Virtual Summit Designed Specifically for Family Life Educators— Supporting Practitioners Who Help and Strengthen Families

Dawn Cassidy, M.Ed., CFLE, Director of Family Life Education
/ NCFR Report, Summer 2022


As I try to absorb the pervasive dysfunction and cruelty in our world today, I find myself returning to my academic roots in psychology. I’ve always been intrigued by the motivations behind people’s behaviors. I’ve mentioned in past articles the words of a CFLE who once said to me, “Dawn, it all comes down to unmet needs.” When people behave badly, or act in ways that are not in their own best interest, I wonder, “What need is being met by this behavior?

I believe that how we see and treat other people is often a reflection of how we see ourselves. The family is often where we develop our sense of self. The family is also where many people learn, or don’t learn, much of what they need to function effectively throughout their lives. Ideally, our family provides a positive and nurturing environment, and our role models demonstrate healthy and appropriate behaviors, but we know that this is often not the case.

I recognize that there are many variables that influence how people and society function. It is not as simple as just ensuring that everyone grows up in a healthy, nurturing environment (not that that is an easy thing to do). But it is certainly an important piece of the puzzle. I take solace in my belief in the effectiveness and importance of Family Life Education (FLE), both to prevent and minimize many societal problems and to provide individuals and families with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need for healthy family functioning.

Which is why I am so pleased that NCFR was able to host the Second Family Life Education Virtual Summit on Friday, June 24. This summit provided another opportunity for FLE practitioners to come together to share information about the important practice of FLE. The theme of this year’s summit was Evolving Best Practices in Family Life Education. As with the first summit, the goal was to provide an opportunity for FLE practitioners to share information about the work they do directly with or for families. Additionally, collaboration between both practitioner presenters and those teaching about and doing research on FLE provided opportunities to increase the relevance of FLE research to practice and FLE practice to research. Submissions were encouraged to be grounded in theory or supported by research but also to reflect practical, lived experiences in providing FLE. The emphasis on incorporating creative presentation methods and interactive strategies for engaging participants reflects the desire to model best practices in FLE delivery.

The variety of topics and approaches included in the 2022 FLE Virtual Summit sessions (see sidebar) did an excellent job of reflecting the summit goals. The FLE Virtual Summit program also recognized the importance of taking some time to process the impact of the pandemic on both Family Life Education and Family Life Educators. The keynote address, Evolving Best Practices in Family Life Education amid the Pandemic’s New Normal, presented by Judy Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE, was the perfect start to the summit, allowing participants to “look at the roles of grief and resilience as processes both to be used by the educators themselves and to be applied in educational settings with families.”

We were especially pleased to have Dr. Myers-Walls as the keynote presenter given her long history and contributions to the field. Her work as a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University for over 31 years, in addition to her work in Cooperative Extension, make her particularly qualified to provide research-based information that is applicable for and relevant to practitioners. Dr. Myers-Walls, along with three other CFLEs, created the Domains of Family Practice model, which is a tremendously important and effective tool for assisting providers and recipients of Family Life Education in understanding the role and value of FLE in collaboration with family case management and family therapy.

Preliminary evaluation survey results indicate that the 2nd FLE Virtual Summit was successful on several fronts. Eighty-eight percent of those that responded to the summit survey rated the summit as excellent (56%) or very good (32%). Attendees appreciated the virtual format (including the Whova app), the variety of topics, opportunities for interaction and connection, the quality of the presentations, and the fact that the sessions were recorded and available for viewing later. Respondent’s comments regarding the summit’s format (several suggested expanding into two shorter days to provide longer sessions with more interaction and longer breaks between sessions) and program content will be helpful in planning next year’s event.

This summit was designed specifically for Family Life Education practitioners and included special CFLE pricing. All sessions were recorded so registrants can view sessions they weren’t able to attend live. Recordings of the entire 2022 summit program are available for purchase including classroom and department license options.

The 2nd Family Life Education Virtual Summit would not have been possible without the work of the FLE Summit Task Force and members of the CFLE Advisory Board. Please contact me at [email protected] if you are interested in serving on the 2023 Task Force. We welcome your thoughts and ideas!


Sessions from the 2022 FLE Virtual Summit Program

Keynote: Evolving Best Practices in Family Life Education amid the Pandemic’s New Normal
Judy Myers-Walls, Ph.D., CFLE

When Words Fail: Working with Children and Families who have Experienced Trauma
Elizabeth Ramsey, Ph.D., CFLE

Integrating Reflective Practice into Family Life Education Professional Identity
Angie Walston, M.S., CFLE

National Parenting Education Network (NPEN) Parenting Educator Competencies: Resource Documents for Professional and Paraprofessional Parenting Educators
Lorna Durrant, Ph.D., CFLE; Betty L. Cooke, Ph.D., CFLE; and Sandra McClintic, Ph.D., CFLE

Meeting Participants Where They Are: Novel Methods for Recruitment and Retention in Family Life Education
Alisha Hardman, Ph.D., CFLE; Lori Elmore-Stanton, Ph.D.; Izzy Thornton, M.S.; Audrey Reid, M.S.; and Emily Grubbs, M.S.

Reflective Dialogue Parent Education: Engaging Parents Through the Power of Video and Reflective Questioning
Heather Cline, Ph.D.; and Lisa Krause, M.A., CFLE

Trauma Informed Youth Mentoring
Jen Krafchick, Ph.D., CFLE; and Toni Zimmerman, Ph.D., LMFT

Culturally Responsive Strategies to Increase Mental Health Awareness and Resources Among Immigrant and Refugee Youth and their Families
Angela B. Kim, Ph.D.; and Emma Hong

Can’t We Write a Grant for That?
Robyn Cenizal, CFLE

Practical Tools for Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) of Family Life Education Programs
Cynthia Wilson, Ph.D., CFLE; and Michaley de Leon, B.S., CFLE

Utilizing Action-Oriented Methods to Systematically Implement a Couple Relationship Education Programs Across a State
Julianne McGill, Ph.D., CFLE; and Rachel Odomes, B.S.

Interventions to Mitigate Barriers to Mental Health Services Among Asian American Families
Angela B. Kim, Ph.D.; and Emma Hong

Recordings of the entire 2022 Summit program are available for purchase including classroom and department license options. Learn more.


Thank You!

Thank you to the FLE Summit task force members for their work in planning and carrying out NCFR’s 2nd FLE Summit: Anita ArmstrongDeb Berke, Mary BoldKelly DaCunhaChinatu Gladrich, Joyce MayberryKaren Shirerand Barbara Sweeney.

An added thanks and appreciation to the CFLE Advisory Board members who served as proposal reviewers and/or session facilitators: Ashley Barksdale, Dorothy Berglund, Robyn Cenizal, Kelly Frisch, Lisa Krause, Jennifer Reinke, Michael Walcheski, and Cindy Wilson.