Marketing Family Life Education, Part 2—Past and Future Efforts
How would you complete the following sentence? More employers would know about and value Family Life Education if only…
Do you have an answer or two already in your mind, or do you need more time to think it over? It’s unfair to surprise you with a pop quiz, so consider this column a sneak peek at the “Teacher’s Book.” Below I’ll share some possible conclusions about this question that we’ve arrived at through discussion with NCFR members and Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) committee members. There are no wrong answers, though, so at the end I’ll invite you to partake in a short survey to share additional ideas that you may have.
In my last column I wrote about NCFR’s plan to create and implement a marketing effort to increase job opportunities for Family Science graduates and Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs). Perhaps the greatest challenge to faculty, students, and graduates of Family Science degree programs, is the need for more job opportunities in the family field.
To increase job opportunities, we need to first increase awareness and understanding of the practice of Family Life Education (FLE) as well as the CFLE credential. We’ve identified the main steps to take to achieve this goal, and they are increasing awareness of FLE and CFLE, identifying contact information for potential employers, creating and distributing resources and marketing materials, identifying professional development events for CFLE credit, and highlighting successful outreach efforts of CFLE-approved programs.
Increasing Awareness of Family Life Education
The hallmark of FLE is its preventive and educational approach, yet this is not widely known or understood by employers who would benefit from implementing such an approach within their companies or organizations. The lack of awareness is a major obstacle to the advancement of the profession. Many CFLEs have shared their frustration at seeing jobs with clear FLE components that request or require a license in social work. Advocacy for FLE can be effective in helping employers recognize alternative ways to provide services. (See the article in the spring 2016 issue of CFLE Network by Justin Petkus, M.S., CFLE, CCLS)
Over the years we’ve undertaken several efforts to increase FLE awareness, including creation of the white paper “Family Life Education: A Profession with a Proven Return on Investment” (J. Kirby Wilkins, E. Taner, D. Cassidy, & R. Cenizal 2014); available through the NCFR Resource Library; identification of February as FLE Month, as well as a contest and use of the hashtag #FamilyLifeEd; and distribution of the “Teaching Families, Changing Lives” poster. We’ll be considering similar promotions going forward and welcome your input.
Increasing Awareness and Value of the CFLE Credential
The CFLE credential was created to identify and promote standards of practice for the field of FLE. Although the existence of a professionally recognized credential can be helpful to individuals and families seeking the services of FLE professionals, it can be equally useful, if not more so, for employers seeking qualified employees. To increase awareness and value of the CFLE credential, we need more employers to know that it exists and to understand how hiring a CFLE is beneficial. A first step in this effort involves identification of and outreach to employers.
Identification of Contact Information for Employers
A major effort in 2020 will be to amass a database of potential Family Science and FLE employers. We’ll be contacting CFLEs, NCFR members, and Family Science programs to identify internships sites, agencies, and organizations in their communities that could be considered potential employers. Reaching out to our existing NCFR stakeholder groups for this help will be much more effective than purchasing mailing lists. Thank you in advance for your assistance!
Creation and Distribution of Resources and Materials
Another step in our marketing efforts will be the creation and distribution of resources and materials helpful in promoting the CFLE credential. The CFLE brochure is available as a downloadable PDF at http://www.ncfr.org/cfle. Copies of a print version can be ordered at no cost at http://www.ncfr.org/store.
Possibilities we’re exploring for additional materials include the following: an FLE infographic; an updated FLE fact sheet; and a printed brochure, flier, or postcard promoting the value of the CFLE credential specifically to employers. This piece could incorporate data from a study by NCFR and Florida State University that assessed employer perceptions of CFLEs. (See my column in the winter 2019 issue of NCFR Report).
Approval of Professional Development Activities for CFLE Continuing Education Credit
To earn the CFLE credential, individuals must earn at least 100 hours of continuing education credit every five years to maintain full status. Although CFLEs have flexibility in determining which professional development events and activities they select to meet this requirement, NCFR will regularly review and approve events for CFLE continuing education credit. When CFLE staff come across a training, workshop, conference, or other opportunity that we think would be relevant to CFLEs, we have asked the event sponsor to submit for CFLE continuing education credit approval. If approved, NCFR will often promote the event through its communication channels, and the organization has the added benefit of marketing the event to CFLEs.
This initial outreach provides an opportunity to promote NCFR and the CFLE credential, and it also brings awareness of the CFLE credential to a wider audience. Going forward, we’d like to be even more intentional to contact organizations that offering relevant professional development opportunities, and we’ll be asking CFLEs to take an active role in helping us identify these events.
Highlighting Effective CFLE-Approved Program Outreach Efforts
There are currently nearly 130 CFLE-approved Family Science programs. These programs, in addition to the many other schools offering Family Science degrees, all share the need to promote the value and relevance of a degree in Family Science. Several CFLE-approved programs have shared information on approaches used to promote the availability of the CFLE-approved program application process to students. See the article in the spring 2016 issue of CFLE Network by Lee Bidwell, Ph.D., CFLE, as well as efforts to promote their degree programs in the community. As part of our marketing efforts, we’d like to gather more of these stories and make them available via the NCFR website. We’ll be reaching out to CFLE contacts at CFLE-approved programs for assistance with this project.
We Need Member and CFLE Involvement
Given that increasing job opportunities is a goal shared by most NCFR members and CFLEs, it makes sense for NCFR to tap the collective experience and resources of stakeholders in this effort. The most effective way to do this is by directly providing CFLEs and NCFR members with tools and resources that they can share with employers at a local level. Toward that effort, we want to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to complete a quick survey. You can access it via http://www.ncfr.org/promoting-cfle-credential.
- What ideas do you have for increasing the visibility and value of the CFLE credential?
- What resources or services can NCFR provide to help members and stakeholders promote the CFLE credential (e.g., brochures, webinars, webcasts, data on programs).
- What efforts have you undertaken that have been successful in promoting the CFLE credential in your setting?
- How can potential CFLE employers be identified?
- How would you complete this sentence: “A lot more employers would know about and value the CFLE credential if NCFR would…”
Please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]. I welcome your participation in this important effort.