Middle Schools Project: Families & Schools Together for Children and Neighbourhoods

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ISBN: 978-0-662-05567-9

Table of Contents

The Middle Schools Project involved implementing the Middle Years F&ST program, an adaptation of the Families and Schools Together (F&ST) model. Middle Years F&ST is aimed at pre-teens (9 to 12 years old) who exhibited risk factors such as family disorganization and isolation, school difficulties, and aggressive behaviour. It was offered in six schools in four provinces across Canada over a three-year period beginning in 2002/03.

The goal was to develop resilience in children and build protective factors to reduce the likelihood of future violence and criminal behaviour. Expected outcomes included:

A collaborative team including school staff, community agency representatives, parents and youth was formed at each school to plan and deliver weekly sessions for families and their children over an 11 week period. Program activities included a family meal, family communication games, time for children to socialize with one another, a parent support group, and one-to-one time between parent and child. After the 11 weeks, parents could join F&STWORKS, and attend monthly support meetings for a further two years. Over the course of the project, 206 families graduated from the program.

Project Assessment

A quasi-experimental design was used for the evaluation. Data was collected from the participants for an 11-week non-intervention period prior to program start and again at intake, thus enabling the evaluator to compare any changes occurring over the 11 weeks of the program with those occurring during the earlier period. Post-program data was collected at one and two-year intervals afterward to determine whether program goals were met and sustained. Standardized instruments were used to collect data on children' behaviour, parental social support, and family characteristics. Information on program implementation, parental satisfaction, and behavioural incidents at school was obtained through additional questionnaires, school records, observation, focus groups, and interviews.

Key Findings

The process evaluation revealed that:

The outcome evaluation revealed that:

Lessons Learned

Conclusion

The Middle Years F&ST program is very well received by families once they become engaged. Some short-term gains are evident but many of these do not appear to hold over time for the majority of families. The differences between the qualitative results reported by families, which were very positive, and the statistical evidence may be due to either instrument limitations or the effects of the attention that was focussed on the families (Hawthorne effect) or both.

Given the differences with previous evaluation results for the program with younger children, where greater changes were reported post-program, the model on which F&ST for the Middle Years is based may be more appropriate with a younger age group.

For more information or to receive a copy of the final evaluation report please contact the National Crime Prevention Centre at 1-800-830-3118 or visit our website at: www.publicsafety.gc.ca/ncpc.

If you wish to register for the NCPC mailing list to receive information from the Centre please visit the subscription page.

It is also possible to visit the Family Service Canada web site at: http://www.familyservicecanada.org/.

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