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Families and Schools Together (FAST)

Children's Mental Health: Disruptive Behavior
Benefit-cost estimates updated December 2017.  Literature review updated April 2012.
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Families and Schools Together (FAST) is a multi-family after-school program. Originally developed to serve young school-age children at risk of school failure, the program is now also offered in schools with high rates of poverty and other risk factors. The goals of the program are to increase parent involvement in schools, strengthen the parent-child relationship, reduce stress by developing parent support groups, and prevent substance abuse by the child and family. Groups of 8 to 12 families meet for eight consecutive weeks for 2½ hours after school or early in the evenings. Teams of trained facilitators conduct meetings that involve experiential learning, parent-child play, and a shared meal.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2016). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $764 Benefits minus costs $439
Participants $1,523 Benefit to cost ratio $1.23
Others $928 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($901) benefits greater than the costs 50 %
Total benefits $2,315
Net program cost ($1,876)
Benefits minus cost $439
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $31 $0 $76 $16 $124
Labor market earnings associated with test scores $681 $1,499 $668 $0 $2,848
K-12 grade repetition ($255) $0 $0 ($128) ($383)
K-12 special education $169 $0 $0 $85 $254
Health care associated with disruptive behavior disorder $155 $51 $192 $78 $476
Costs of higher education ($18) ($27) ($8) ($9) ($61)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($943) ($943)
Totals $764 $1,523 $928 ($901) $2,315
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $1,694 2009 Present value of net program costs (in 2016 dollars) ($1,876)
Comparison costs $0 2009 Cost range (+ or -) 10 %
This program is typically provided in eight sessions over two months. Kratochwill (2009) provided costs for the program evaluated in Madison, WI. Implementation (actual presentation of the program) cost $1,194 per child, plus an average cost of $500 per child to train the program facilitators. Training costs assumes eight groups could be accommodated per training. See Kratochwill, T.R., McDonald, L., Levin, J.R., Scalia, P.A., & Coover, G. (2009). Families and Schools Together: An experimental study of multi-family support groups for children at risk. Journal of School Psychology, 47(4), 245-265.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

^WSIPP’s benefit-cost model does not monetize this outcome.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes (ES) and standard errors (SE) used in the benefit-cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Externalizing behavior symptoms 5 391 -0.200 0.078 8 -0.095 0.085 11 -0.284 0.003
Grade point average^ 1 140 -0.086 0.123 8 -0.086 0.123 8 -0.086 0.486
Internalizing symptoms 5 391 -0.014 0.077 8 -0.010 0.061 10 -0.011 0.889
K-12 grade repetition 1 140 0.288 0.212 8 0.288 0.212 9 0.288 0.176
Test scores 3 179 0.031 0.113 8 0.017 0.124 17 0.104 0.487

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Kratochwill, T.R., McDonald, L., Levin, J.R., Scalia, P.A., & Coover, G. (2009). Families and Schools Together: An experimental study of multi-family support groups for children at risk. Journal of School Psychology, 47(4), 245-265.

Kratochwill, T.R., McDonald, L., Levin, J.R., Young Bear-Tibbetts, H., & Demaray, M.K. (2004). Families and Schools Together: An experimental analysis of a parent-mediated multi-family group program for American Indian children. Journal of School Psychology, 42(5), 359-383..

Layzer, J.I., & Webb, M.B. (2001). National Evaluation of Family Support Programs, Volume B: Research Studies (Final report). Cambridge, MA.

McDonald, L. (2003). The Asian American FAST Project: Among Adaptation of Families and Schools Together. Madison, WIS: WCER.

McDonald, L., Moberg, D.P., Brown, R., Rodriguez-Espiricueta, I., Flores, N.I., Burke, M.P., & Coover, G. (2006). After-school multifamily groups: A randomized controlled trial involving low-income, urban, Latino children. Children and Schools, 28(1), 25-34.

For more information on the methods
used please see our Technical Documentation.