Directions: Meeting the Needs of Family Life Education Practitioners
"I am exploring opportunities to provide independent family life education programming, services, or consultation within the community. Are there any resources you would recommend for getting started in this area?"
This question, posted on the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) email list by CFLE Jenell Kelly earlier in 2016, prompted a tremendous response from CFLEs willing to share their experiences, and an almost equal number echoing Jenell's request for information. It quickly became clear that she had hit a "sweet spot." CFLEs were very interested in learning about how to start and run their own family life education business. This conversation was the impetus for a new opportunity NCFR now offers to Certified Family Life Educators—free online "Continuing Conversations" for CFLEs—as well as a four-part webinar series on the topic.
The first CFLE Continuing Conversation was held on June 28and provided CFLEs with an opportunity to participate in a real-time, online conversation with other CFLEs. Mara Briere and Naketta Lowery, two CFLEs with expertise in running their own business, moderated the conversation. One of the benefits of certification is the opportunity to connect and learn from others in the same field. NCFR has provided opportunities for networking via the CFLE newsletter, Network; at the CFLE reception at the NCFR conference; and through the CFLE email list. However, the online CFLE Continuing Conversations provides a new and improved way for CFLEs to connect and share.
As a result of the email discussion and the following CFLE Continuing Conversation, it became clear that CFLEs were hungry for formal education about starting and running their own business. In response, NCFR introduced a webinar series held in late 2016, which continues into early 2017. Response to the webinars has been very positive. They have provided a way for CFLEs with expertise and experience to share their knowledge about the ins and outs of starting and running a family life education business, including consideration of nonprofit versus for-profit structure, funding, content development, and business planning. An accompanying free CFLE Continuing Conversation held approximately one week after each webinar allows for further discussion on the topic and provides another opportunity for CFLEs to learn from one another. All CFLE Continuing Conversations and webinars are archived, and are therefore accessible after the initial live offering.
The four-part webinar series (each webinar also can be accessed individually) only scratches the surface of the services that NCFR provides to family life educator practitioners. Certainly there will be opportunities for additional practice-oriented webinars in the coming year. The online Professional Resource Library gives family life educators access to information on books, curricula, websites, and more, all searchable by content area. NCFR's director of research and policy education, Jennifer Crosswhite, and I are working with members to expand the number of resource collections on the NCFR website. A longer-term goal is to provide online learning modules relevant to each of the 10 family life content areas (and eventually a number of content subareas) that could be used as professional development or as a resource for those studying for the CFLE exam.
NCFR is in an excellent position to enable family professionals to share their knowledge and assist one another in serving families. If you have suggestions for how NCFR can best meet your needs, please email me.
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