Project NAFASI: Nurturing All Families through After School Improvement
In response to the need for alternative venues for mental health service delivery for underserved children and families, Project NAFASI links mental health resources with publicly-funded after-school programs in urban, high poverty communities. This NIMH-funded program of research is a partnership with the Chicago Park District and examines how mental health consultation and support can strengthen the benefits of after-school programs for children's academic, social, and behavioral functioning. Early collaboration with after school program staff led to the development of our initial intervention, based on the efficacy-based, manualized Summer Treatment Program (Pelham et al., 1997) and focused on facilitating positive peer socialization, reducing disruptive behaviors, increasing prosocial behaviors, and improving academic performance. Collaboration and intervention consultation at each program site proceeds in three stages:
- relationship building, needs assessment, and resource mapping
- intervention adaptation and implementation
- implementation support, problem-solving, and sustainability
Initial findings suggest that the NAFASI intervention was both feasible and very well received by staff, had a positive impact on prosocial behavior, but was not sufficiently intensive to reduce aggressive behavior. Building on this early work and reflecting a growing literature linking organizational social context with service quality and outcomes, we are beginning to examine setting-level social processes that may enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of interventions in the after school setting. Findings will be used to inform the expansion of the NAFASI intervention through the development of organizational intervention components, including intervention manuals, training materials, and fidelity checklists, that will be tested in a subsequent clinical trial.