We get this question all the time: from agencies considering one of our programs; from sites using one program and thinking of adding the other; and from grant writers needing to distinguish between our two programs.
So, what’s the difference?
Here are the basics:
Reconnecting Youth (RY) is a semester-long CLASS, implemented in the school, as part of the regular schedule, and is offered for credit and a grade. RY was designed for students at risk for school dropout, and we have an algorithm/formula using referrals and student records to determine who “qualifies”. RY class size should not exceed 10-12 students.
Coping and Support Training (CAST) is a 12-session GROUP, which can be implemented in a variety of locations: schools, mental health agencies, faith-based organizations, juvenile detention centers, private practice, etc. CAST groups should have 6-8 youth max. CAST can be offered as
- a universal prevention program for all youth in a setting, grade or grouping;
- a selective prevention program to youth in at-risk groups (such as 8th graders transitioning to high school, Alaska Native/Native American/First Nation youth, GLBQ populations, or youth showing signs of risk for school dropout); OR
- an indicated prevention program for high risk individuals identified through screening (e.g., for suicide risk – this is what we did in our studies).
Perhaps more important is what RY and CAST share in common:
- Youth should be invited, not assigned to the program.
- Diversity in a class/group in terms of risk factors, gender, age, experience and strengths are beneficial to the success of all of the individuals in the program.
- Life skills are taught, modeled, practiced and applied to real life situations in and outside of the class/group context.
- The emphasis is on developing a positive peer culture and adult support system, both of which bolster personal growth.
- Both the of programs’ goals are to increase school achievement, drug use control and mood management (by decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors, such as personal control, problem-solving coping, and support resources).
- Anyone can teach either RY or CAST as long as they are passionate about working with at-risk youth and are willing to deliver the program as designed. The only caveat is that, for RY, when credits are being offered, you need a “teacher of record” to assign grades for the class. We’ve had teachers, administrators, school nurses, counselors, outside mental health agency staff, and well-loved security guards and probation officers teach both RY and CAST!
- Training is HIGHLY recommended, but not required for purchase of the curricula. These are both evidence-based programs with over 15 years of research to support their outcomes, when delivered with fidelity (as designed). Training will assure your implementation readiness.
- We train on site, year round, on demand. We also have annual trainings here in Seattle. You may choose to host your own training or join another site’s training, when openings are available. Please view our Training Calendar for the latest schedule. Or contact us for more information about training, including costs, requirements of a host site, and waiting list options.
- Both programs change lives!! See SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices for a summary of our outcomes for RY and CAST.