Getting the Most Out of Being a CFLE-Approved Program

Dawn Cassidy, M.Ed., CFLE, Director of Family Life Education
/ Winter 2020 NCFR Report

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Since 1996, NCFR has been reviewing and approving academic Family Science programs for the inclusion of Family Life Education content. Most programs seek approval through NCFR’s Academic Program Review to provide their graduates with a streamlined way to pursue the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential without having to also take the CFLE exam. CFLE-approved programs provide students with a checklist of preapproved courses that meet the criteria for the CFLE credential. Students who satisfactorily complete all the courses on the school’s checklist will qualify for the provisional CFLE credential and can apply for the certification through the CFLE-approved program application process upon graduation. Graduates that have completed relevant work experience in Family Life Education also can obtain full certification status by submitting documentation of their work experience and employer verification and assessment. Being able to offer students the ability to obtain a nationally recognized credential upon graduation can provide an important marketing advantage to a college or university. Graduating with the CFLE credential in addition to a Family Science degree is a great advantage for the graduate.

Meeting a National Standard. CFLE-approved family programs can market themselves as providing a curriculum that meets a nationally recognized standard. The thoroughness of the Academic Program Review process ensures not only that the program includes coursework relevant to the 10 Family Life Education content areas but also that the rigor of the learning objectives, assignments, and reading materials are appropriate for the course level. Programs that receive CFLE approval have truly demonstrated that they meet nationally recognized and respected standards.

School and Program Promotion. CFLE program approval provides schools with opportunities to promote both the school generally and its Family Science program. CFLE-approved programs are identified as such in the Degree Programs in Family Science section of the NCFR website, where schools can also provide more detailed information about their program as well as their CFLE checklist. CFLE-approved programs are also recognized at the University Receptions during the NCFR Annual Conference and through announcements of program approval and renewal in NCFR’s Zippy News and the CFLE Network newsletter.

Access to Resources. CFLE approval can provide programs with access to resources to enhance teaching and learning. CFLE-approved programs qualify to receive discounts on classroom pricing for NCFR’s webinar program. The CFLE contact from each CFLE-approved program has access to the Academic Program Review discussion group, which offers opportunities to network with other CFLE-approved program faculty and administrators. Additionally, there are opportunities to meet with other approved and aspiring program representatives at special sessions at the NCFR Annual Conference.


Promoting CFLE Approval to Students

Each school’s support for and promotion of the CFLE credential directly influences the number of applications from graduates seeking CFLE approval. We have found that it is very important for program faculty and administrators to support and promote the CFLE credential and the availability of the CFLE-approved program application process. Having a strong CFLE advocate or “booster” can make a big difference in the number of graduates who pursue the CFLE credential. What do CFLE boosters look like?

  • They promote their own CFLE status by including the CFLE designation after their name on their email signature, in course syllabi, and on business cards.
  • They reference a program’s CFLE approval in the syllabus of each approved course (e.g., “This course meets the requirements for the Internal Dynamics of Families content area of the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential”) to help familiarize students with the CFLE credential early on in their family coursework.
  • They are able to converse with students about their program’s CFLE approval and what that means, and can properly advise students on the substitution process, transfer credit policy, and the CFLE-approved program application in general.
  • They are familiar with the Step-by-Step Guide to the CFLE-Approved Program Application slideshow ( and share it with students interested in applying for the CFLE.
  • They distribute to current and potential students (and parents and community employers) the CFLE brochure, which can be ordered through the NCFR website at no cost.
  • They have taken to heart advice shared in Dr. Lee Bidwell’s article “What I Wish I Knew: Tips for Promoting CFLE Approved Programs (
  • They are familiar with or have accessed resources on the NCFR website that are helpful in informing prospective or current employers about the CFLE credential (
  • They have incorporated activities shared by Deb Gentry, Ed.D., CFLE, former Academic Program Review liaison, such as:

Inviting someone from your area or state to talk face-to-face or virtually with students at a student organization meeting or classroom session about the value the credential has had to them. This is sometimes more meaningful than hearing such a message from a faculty member.

Having students develop a concise explanation (elevator speech) of the CFLE credential and why it could be helpful, and then having them practice it aloud as they might share it with a prospective internship site supervisor or future employer (or even a family member or friend).

Setting aside bulletin board space for CFLE news and promotion, and featuring an area professional with the CFLE credential with a photo, info about their place of employment, and a testimonial about the value of the CFLE credential in his or her view. 

This is just a sampling of efforts that CFLE boosters can do to have a positive impact on the number of graduates who go on to apply for the CFLE credential through the CFLE-approved program application process. In a future Directions column, I intend to interview the CFLE contact from the top five CFLE programs with the most graduates who have gone on to pursue the CFLE credential. I will share the secrets of their program’s success.

If you are interested in pursuing CFLE program approval, visit the NCFR website (CFLE-Approved Program Application) or contact the APR liaison Claire Kimberly, at [email protected].