Wisdom for Family Life Educators—Tapping the Knowledge and Experience of CFLEs

Dawn Cassidy, M.Ed., CFLE, Director of Family Life Education
/ CFLE Network, Fall 2021

In 2011, Robert E. Keim, Ph.D., CFLE, and Dr. Arminta Jacobson, CFLE, edited a book called Wisdom for Parents: Key Ideas From Parent Educators. The book includes a collection of nearly 100 short articles contributed by Certified Family Life Educators (CFLE) sharing their professional and personal expertise and advice about parenting. The summary chapter, written by Drs. Keim, Jacobson, and Engelbrecht, CFLE, includes parenting wisdom described in the book as “from writers and scholars spanning the past decades—wisdom that tends not to grow old, but still applies.”

Dr. Keim published the book at his own expense and generously donated the proceeds to help support the CFLE program. The book is sold through the NCFR Store as well as though several online outlets and has been purchased by both individuals and several universities that have used the book as a supplemental text for parenting courses. Because of the success of the book, a CFLE Scholarship Fund was created to help cover costs for CFLE first-time applications (50%) and provide a CFLE Annual waiver. Sadly, Dr. Keim passed away last year, but he thoughtfully passed the copyright to the book to NCFR, enabling us to continue to sell it and support the CFLE Scholarship fund.

I thought of the Wisdom for Parents book the other day when I was reviewing a list of CFLEs that have been certified for more than 20 years. There are currently 163 CFLEs who have been certified for more than 20 years and 62 who have been certified for more than 30! I suspect that is unusual in the world of voluntary certifications and reflects the commitment that Family Life Educators bring to the field. As CFLEs, their training and experience has been supported with research and evidence-based practice. This, coupled with their many years of experience, has likely resulted in a lot of wisdom about the practice of Family Life Education.

We’ve worked to tap some of that wisdom through NCFR’s new CFLE Conversations program, which provides an opportunity for CFLEs working in similar areas and around common issues to connect and support each other under the guidance of an experienced facilitator (see story in this issue on CFLE Conversations for 2022). Building off that success, and in recognition of the value of the contributions of the Wisdom for Parents authors, I would like to introduce a new column for the CFLE Network: Wisdom for Family Life Educators.

This new column will provide an opportunity for CFLEs to share some of the things that they have learned over their years of providing various forms of Family Life Education. The column format is still a work in progress, but I envision asking CFLEs a series of questions and statements designed to help them share their knowledge and expertise, such as “The best advice I can give someone just getting into Family Life Education is …” “What is something you know now that you wish you had known years ago?” “What are the most valuable resources you’ve used in your practice?” and “What is the most important thing a CFLE needs to know to be effective?”

But the column won’t be limited to a question-and-answer format. Rather, it will be a place where CFLEs can share whatever advice and information they think would benefit other CFLEs. Articles can share successes in developing or implementing an FLE program, pursuing and receiving a grant, effectively managing a group discussion, marketing or promoting an FLE program, or engaging an audience in a group activity.

There is a lot to be said for having formal training and professional development and for supporting work with research and evidence-based practice. That is core to the CFLE credential, and we’ll want that foundation acknowledged. But there is also a lot of value that comes from years of experience, and I’d like the CFLE Network to provide a platform for sharing that experience. Wisdom for Family Life Educators will provide a way for seasoned professionals to be affirmed for all they have learned over the years while benefiting others practicing in the field.

I’ll be reaching out to CFLEs who have been certified for more than 20 years to recruit authors. But that is not to say that those who have been certified for less than 20 years, or that are new to practice, don’t have wisdom to impart. I encourage all CFLEs to consider what wisdom you can share with other CFLEs. Please contact me at [email protected] with any thoughts, ideas, or questions.

NCFR Virtual Family Life Education Summit Will Return in 2022

As I shared in the summer issue of CFLE Network, NCFR’s first virtual Family Life Education Summit, held in June, was a big success with more than 170 people attending. NCFR is planning to host another virtual summit next spring. We’ll likely follow the same format with one plenary presentation and three blocks of three to four concurrent sessions. I’m planning to work with members of the CFLE Advisory Board once again but will also be enlisting the help of a special FLE Summit Task Force, largely made up of practitioner Family Life Educators that work outside of academia. Several attendees of the 2021 Summit expressed interest in serving on this task force, so I will be reaching out to them soon but welcome involvement from anyone who wants to help plan this important event.