Virtual FLE Summit & CFLE Conversations—Expanding Services to Practitioners

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

See all articles in this issue

NCFR is making a concerted effort to increase the resources and services provided to Family Life Education (FLE) practitioners. In 2021, we introduced two new programs specifically designed to increase opportunities for Family Life Educators to learn from and share with each other: a 1-day virtual conference this June and an ongoing series of informal virtual conversations on specific topics.


Virtual FLE Summit

The 2021 Family Life Education Virtual Summit: Strengthening & Supporting the Work of Family Life Educators will be NCFR’s first foray into hosting a conference focused specifically on FLE and with family practitioners as the target audience.

The NCFR Annual Conference provides an important venue for discussing FLE within the broader context of Family Science, but the criteria for proposals and the format of the sessions does not always lend itself to detailed discussion of the implications of research or actual application in the field. Practitioners want assurance that information is research- or evidence-based but may be more interested in learning about and discussing the application of that research than the methodology behind a research study. 

The success of the NCFR Education and Enrichment Section’s annual resource exchange sessions at the NCFR Conference speaks to the hunger many have for the opportunity to see and discuss programs and resources used in the field. NCFR is continually considering other opportunities that can be provided to practitioner members and Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs) to enhance their work with families.

I have dreamed about having NCFR host a conference specifically for Family Life Educators for years, and NCFR’s successful experience in hosting the 2020 conference virtually convinced me that now was the time to make this dream a reality. A virtual format will be more accessible to practitioners who may not have the funds to allow for travel and lodging. As indicated by the theme, “Strengthening & Supporting the Work of Family Life Educators,” this meeting will be specifically about Family Life Education and targeted to Family Life Educators. This will enable us to focus sessions on the day-to-day experiences and needs of those working in the field with and for families.

To prepare for the FLE Virtual Summit, we surveyed CFLE and other FLE practitioners to assess interest in attending the event and to determine what topics they would be most interested in learning about. Interest in both attending (69%) and presenting (56%) was high. Based on the rankings of potential topics, respondents were very interested in learning more about the following topics: running their own FLE business; trauma-informed practice; program development, implementation, and evaluation; parenting education; relationship and marriage education; promoting equity and addressing racism; adverse childhood experiences; advocating for the practice of FLE; collaboration with other family professionals (the Domains of Family Practice Model); and grant writing. The Call for Proposals encouraged submissions focused on these and other topics of relevance to the practice of FLE. Special thanks to members of the CFLE Advisory Board for their help in planning this important event. The 2021 FLE Virtual Summit will be held on June 25, 2021.


CFLE Conversations

Another effort to better support practitioners is CFLE Conversations. The diversity of employment settings and roles that fall within the practice of FLE can make it difficult to find and connect with others working in the same area. To provide CFLEs with the opportunity to better connect and network with each other, NCFR has launched CFLE Conversations, a series of 1-hour, online networking sessions. Practitioners will discuss their challenges and successes and also share ideas with each other. The first CFLE Conversation, targeted specifically for CFLEs working with military families, was held on March 31, 2021. Ginny Wescott, M.A., CFLE, the director of the Office of Violence Prevention at Spangdahlem Air Force Base, Germany, did a masterful job of facilitating the conversation. Her extensive experience working across four branches of the military proved to be very helpful. Attendees were interested in discussing some of the challenges of military life as well as job opportunities for Family Life Educators within the military and approaches to increase the recognition and value of CFLEs in employment roles. The event provided a great opportunity for CFLEs to connect with and support each other.

The next CFLE Conversation was targeted to CFLEs working with families impacted by mental illness, facilitated by Mara Briere, M.A., CFLE, on April 28. Following that will be a conversation for CFLEs working in parenting education, facilitated by Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE, on May 19. Additional conversations will be scheduled throughout the year. CFLE Conversations is a benefit available only to active CFLEs.

We are excited to have these opportunities to expand the services and resources that NCFR offers to FLE practitioners. If you have other ideas for how NCFR can support practitioners, please contact me at [email protected].