Marketing the CFLE Credential – A Collaborative Effort
As a profession, Family Life Education (FLE) struggles with a lack of awareness, understanding, and appreciation of its strengths-based, preventive approach to supporting and strengthening families. We hear from members and Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs) that employers are sometimes unfamiliar with the formal concept of FLE or the contributions that professionals with FLE and Family Science training can bring to the workplace. At the same time, we know that employers typically value the work of CFLEs—more on that later. A lack of identity as an academic discipline and profession, along with a diversity of settings in which FLE takes place, is a challenge to the advancement of the field.
NCFR is committed to addressing these challenges and identifying ways to increase the value and visibility of the practice of Family Life Education. We are launching an effort toward this end and seek your involvement. What can NCFR do to address these challenges and move the field forward?
Academic Identity—NCFR’s identification of the term Family Science as the preferred name to identify the discipline has been an important step in addressing the lack of academic identity caused by myriad titles for degree programs with largely consistent content. It has been encouraging to see the increasing number of degree programs incorporating the term Family Science into their titles. This effort will enable employers to more easily identify professionals qualified to apply a strengths-based, family-centered, life-span approach to family well-being, ideally leading to increased employment opportunities for Family Science graduates and CFLEs. NCFR has gathered several resources to assist programs interested in changing their program or department name to include Family Science. Please contact [email protected] if this information would be helpful to you. Also, check out the We Are Family Science (family.science) website for information on the discipline.
Diversity of Settings—Training in Family Science and FLE can provide a strong and effective foundation for employment in any number of settings, but the multidisciplinary nature of FLE can be both an asset and a liability for those seeking employment. A glance at NCFR’s Careers in Family Science booklet confirms that Family Life Educators can work in health care, community education, faith communities, schools, colleges and universities, social service agencies, early childhood education, corporate settings, government agencies, corrections, retirement communities, and the military. On the upside, numerous opportunities fit the “generalist” training that is FLE. On the downside, the variety of settings in which CFLEs and Family Science graduates can work can make it difficult to target efforts when seeking employment. Which job titles do they look for? Rarely is a position identified as Family Life Educator or the work called Family Life Education. As NCFR’s director of family life education, it’s my responsibility to market the CFLE credential. Like the job applicant, I have struggled in determining where NCFR should focus marketing efforts. What mail or email list should we rent? On which audience should we focus? I will be asking for the help of NCFR members and CFLEs to identify relevant employment settings and specific employers to which to market the CFLE credential. The CFLE brochure (available free through the NCFR Store) promotes the benefits of the CFLE credential, but what else can NCFR provide to Family Science graduates and CFLEs to use in promoting themselves to employers? How can we target employers directly in our marketing efforts when there are so many potential settings?
Employers Value CFLEs
NCFR has collected data that may be helpful in promoting the value of the CFLE credential to employers. Although it can sometimes be challenging for those with Family Science and FLE training to find jobs, employers of CFLE consistently rate their knowledge, skills, and abilities as excellent. We know this because, in an effort to see how CFLEs performed in their jobs, Jennifer Crosswhite, Ph.D., CFLE, NCFR director of policy and research education, and I worked with Joseph Grzywacz, Ph.D., and others at Florida State University on a project to analyze data collected from 300 NCFR CFLE Employer Assessment and Verification forms submitted by CFLEs and CFLE candidates pursuing full certification status.
The forms require the employer to rate the knowledge of the CFLE or CFLE candidate on a scale from minimal to excellent in each of the 10 FLE content areas. Using the same scale, they also rate candidates on 16 different traits, skills, and abilities needed for effective delivery of FLE, including emotional stability and maturity, flexibility, ability to work well with diverse audiences, problem-solving skills, and more.
The majority of employers completing the CFLE Employer Assessment and Verification form rated the identified traits, skills, and abilities as excellent. Additionally, they rated as excellent CFLE knowledge in the 10 FLE content areas, except for human sexuality and family law and public policy. Employer comments identified CFLEs as valuable and qualified employees who provided significant benefit to the organization. Dr. Grzywacz will be sharing some of the findings from this project at the CFLE reception in Fort Worth.
We’ll continue to analyze the data, as it may have important implications for how we prepare Family Life Educators, and it may be useful in promoting the benefits of the CFLE credential to employers. We’ll be looking to see how we might we use this data in our promotional efforts.
Help NCFR Advance the Field
To be successful in raising the visibility and value of Family Science and the CFLE credential, we need to work collaboratively with the NCFR membership and stakeholders. To that end, we’ve created a brief survey to collect your thoughts and ideas about promoting Family Science and CFLE. NCFR has tools and resources to create materials and initiatives that can be useful in promoting Family Science and CFLE, but we need your help as professionals teaching in Family Science programs or practitioners working in the field to help us determine what would be most effective. We also need your help in identifying and reaching out to employers.
Please share your answers to the following questions:
- What ideas do you have for increasing the visibility of the CFLE credential?
- What resources or services would help NCFR members, CFLEs, and other 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 . . .”
Submit your answers to these questions using this online form.
In my next column I’ll write more about NCFR’s plans for marketing to employers and share reader’s insights. I look forward to hearing from you! Questions? Email me at [email protected].