What is the difference between RY and CAST programs?

We get this question all the time: from agencies considering our programs; from sites using one and thinking of adding the other; and from grant writers needing to distinguish between the 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. RY has a rich evidence-base as a Tier 3 or Indicated prevention program.

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 one of the following:

  • A Universal (Tier 1) prevention program offered* to all youth in a setting, grade or grouping

  • A Selective (Tier 2) prevention program to youth in at-risk groups (such as 8th graders transitioning to high school, Alaska Native/Native American/First Nation youth, LGBTQIA+ populations, or youth showing signs of risk for school dropout)

  • An Indicated (Tier 3) 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 and other protective factors.
  • Both of the 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. 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! These are both evidence-based programs with over 15 years of research to support their outcomes, when delivered with fidelity (i.e., as designed and tested). Training will ensure your implementation readiness.

  • Both programs change lives!! See our website for multiple national Evidence-Based Programs listings, our published results and numerous testimonials.

*NOTE an invitation and ability to opt out is essential!