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!