Students in Penn State Mont Alto’s Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program have an opportunity to obtain a new certification that could give them a competitive edge in the job market.
In June, Mont Alto and several other Penn State campuses received approval from the National Council on Family Relations to offer the Certified Family Life Education (CFLE) program, which has 10 content areas listed on their website:
Human Development and Family Studies already incorporate some of those subject areas. It is an interdisciplinary program that includes the study of psychology, biology, sociology, medicine, anthropology, history, social work, and philosophy. It is a field for those who like to work with children, teens, families, and adults. Students have hands-on experiences through internships, fieldwork, classwork, and volunteering.
Coursework includes the study of human development from conception to death; theories and research on development, ethics, and social policy; family development and relationships; social problems and issues; and physical and mental health. Students may choose a two-year path to an associate degree or pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree. Currently, Mont Alto has 60 students enrolled in the two- and four-year programs.
Robin G. Yaure, professor of teaching for human development and family studies at Mont Alto, said an HDFS degree provides countless employment options.
“It’s always relevant,” Yaure said. “We work with people, we help people.”
Completion of the CFLE program—which is only available to those in the bachelor’s program—will give students an advantage when seeking jobs, she said. Whenever students can show they have a special skill or special knowledge on their résumés, they stand out to prospective employers, Yaure added.
According to the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), the CFLE credential is recognized in the U.S. and Canada for family life education professions. It encourages applications from professionals who have preparation and experience in teaching; research/scholarship; community education; public information and education; curriculum and resource development; health care; military family support; and ministry.
Schools applying for approval must have at least one NCFR member and one CFLE on staff within the department offering the degree for which approval is sought. Yaure fits the bill on both counts.
Also, in the fall of 2019, faculty from five Penn State campuses started meeting, initially face-to-face and then virtually after the coronavirus led to restrictions on in-person gatherings, to work toward approval for the CFLE certification.
They determined which courses at each campus would fit best with the program, some of which were already being taught. The classes are offered in-person and remotely. The members of the Penn State consortium also discussed how to add a family life education component to the internships in which students must participate.
“It is a cooperative venture,” Yaure said.
Pursuing the new certification will not prolong students’ completion of bachelor’s degree requirements as long as they schedule courses that lead to the credential.
Because HDFS is such an interdisciplinary program, Yaure said that graduates are uniquely positioned to pursue employment in various fields, including education, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, daycare, and working with the elderly. Some students complete graduate studies, which can lead to work in occupational therapy, social work, and social services, she said.
For more information about the Certified Family Life Education program, go to www.ncfr.org/cfle-certification.
For more information about Penn State Mont Alto, go to montalto.psu.edu.