Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers

About This Program

Target Population: Babies (Birth to 2 years old) who are at high risk for child neglect and abuse, their young mothers (14 to 21 years old), and the babies' extended family which include biological fathers and grandparents

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 2, 14 – 21

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 2, 14 – 21

Program Overview

Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers are structured multifamily, multigenerational groups for young mothers, their babies, and their babies' extended families which include the biological fathers and grandparents who may be in heavy conflict with the teenage mother. These groups are led by trained teams consisting of a health visitor, an infant massage expert, a social worker for child protection, an advocate for young men, a grandmother of a teenage mother, and a teenage mother. In these 8 structured sessions, all conflict is blocked and positive emotion is supported in experiential learning activities, for the sake of the baby. This is an application of structural family therapy (Kids FAST® - Families and Schools Together) with families of teenage mothers with no diagnosed mental disorders and the new baby. The sessions aim to build positive relationships across the informal social support networks, defuse the hostility, and protect the new baby from neglect and abuse.

Program Goals

The goals of Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers are:

  • Reduce child neglect and abuse of the new baby
  • Build respectful and non-conflicted relationships between the teenage mother and her extended family, including the father of the baby
  • Build friendships to reduce social isolation with other extended families of other teenage mothers in the local community
  • Connect mothers with expert professionals for appropriate referrals for additional more intensive services over time and for referrals to further education

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers.

Essential Components

The essential components of Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers include:

  • Being a multicomponent, complex social work intervention for reducing neglect and abuse of new babies by stressed, isolated, and conflicted teenage mothers
  • Ten theories that are the underpinnings this multifamily group include:
    • Family therapy with delinquents to prevent incarceration
    • Group work with anti-social teenagers
    • Multi-generational strength building activities in which the team is trained to block conflict between 3 generations of family members and to encourage positive talk about the new baby
    • Skill building groups for the teenage mother to practice and be coached to give her infant massages
    • Practice for the teenage mother speaking out in the Choices small groups (which have no relatives) each week for 40 minutes about possible solutions for 8 case studies of typical problems faced by teenage mothers
    • Support groups for grandmothers who have a teenage daughter with subject matter related to their own adolescence to increase empathy for their daughters
    • Support groups for fathers who have a new baby to stay connected to the baby
    • Singing and meals for community building to surround the new baby with a positive community to help it grow.
    • Social learning theory and the new brain research provide support for the repeated activities
    • Support for the teenage mother to feel like the mother and willingness to receive support without hostility
  • Teams trained to host the multifamily groups must have service users on the team (including a teenage mother, a grandmother of a baby of a teenager mother, and a boyfriend who fathered a baby), a health visitor, a social worker in child protection, and an infant massage specialist
  • Teams help to make the program fit the culture of the participating teenage mothers and families

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Birth to 2 years old: Child of a teenage parent, at risk for abuse and neglect by the parent or others14 to 21 years old: Teenage parent, at risk of neglecting or abusing her child or having someone close to her cause the abuse or neglect

Parent/Caregiver Services

Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • 14 to 21 years old: Having a baby between 0-2 years of ageOlder adult: Have a daughter who is 14-21 years old who has a baby who is 0-2 years old
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: This is a three generational programme for the sake of the baby of the teenage mother. The program requires the involvement of an adult relative/friend/advocate with the teenage mother's mother (grandmother of the baby) preferred. Even if there are high levels of conflict and disengagement, efforts should be made to recruit the grandmother of the baby. There is social worker-led group for grandmothers/adult relatives and also one for the fathers of the babies. Efforts are made over the 8 weeks using a positive experiential learning approach to build connections across the extended family and with other extended families, reduce stress and social isolation of the teenage mother and her new baby, block conflict with repeated activities, and build cohesion and the strengths of people already involved in the teen mom's life who can help to raise the new baby.

Recommended Intensity:

Three-hour sessions weekly for 8 weeks

Recommended Duration:

Booster sessions are monthly, and there should be repeated weekly sessions every year

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Hospital
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers includes a homework component:

The teen parent is instructed to do infant massage with her baby each night before putting them to bed.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Personnel: 6 member teams host a multi-family group for 8-10 families; these must be culturally representative of the families being served, and half of the team is professionals (health and social work) and half is service user/consumers: teenage mother, a father of a baby of a teenage mother, and a grandmother of a baby of a teenage mother

Other resources: Need a large room with round tables for the 10 families; need movable chairs and tables; need a private room for grandmothers' group, and another for fathers' group, and a comfortable room with carpet and cushions and special oils and towels for the 10 teenage mothers to practice infant massage with 10 babies. Also need a play area with supervision if other children are also attending.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Professional health visitors, infant massage experts, and professional social workers who have worked in child protection and can run groups. Half of the team is specially recruited and trained service users/consumers consisting of a teenage mother, a grandmother of baby of teenage mother, and a father of baby of teenage mother. The trained service users/consumers on the team should not be related to one another.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training and supervision must be provided on site for 6 days over a 4-month period, with three direct observations and feedback sessions, and a final evaluation with reflective practice, and a panel of service user teenage parents and an evaluation outcome report.

Number of days/hours:

6 full days over a 4-month period

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

McDonald, L., Conrad, T., Fairtlough, A., Fletcher, J., Green, L., Moore, L., & Lepps, B. (2009). An evaluation of a group work intervention for teenage mothers and their families. Child & Family Social Work, 14, 45-57.

Type of Study: Pretest/posttest
Number of Participants: 115


  • Age — 15-28 years; Mean=19 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 82% Caucasian; 8% Native American; 5% mixed ethnicity; 1% Asian American, African-American, and Hispanic/Latino; and 2% other ethnicity
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were young single mothers of children 2 years or younger.

Location/Institution: Canada

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study describes the implementation of a specific, community based, multifamily group (MFG) intervention strategy (Baby Families and Schools Together [FAST]) aimed at improving the outcomes for infants of teenage mothers. Measures utilized include the Self-Efficacy Scale, the Family Environment Scale (FES), the Social Support, Social Relationship Questionnaire, the Parenting Stress Index, and the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents. Results indicated statistically significant increases in parental self-efficacy for the teenage mothers, improved parent–child bonds, reductions in stress and family conflict, and increases in social support. Limitations include nonrandomization of control group, and small sample size.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: 2 years.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Baby FAST Groups for Young Mothers.

Contact Information

Molly McGowan
Title: Senior Director of Programs
Agency/Affiliation: Families & Schools Together
Phone: (608) 663-2382

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2024

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2024

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2013