Family Life Education with Diverse Populations


Edited by: Sharon M. Ballard & Alan C. Taylor

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    There is a constant need for more information and resources specific to the field of family life education. In this time of “evidence-based,” “best practices,” “outcomes,” etc., it is apparent that there is a particular need for a resource that helps family life educators identify best practices within family life education. One of the cornerstones of family life education is the importance of meeting the needs of the target audience. The challenge is to understand and then to meet the unique needs of so many diverse audiences. Thus, the idea of a book that pulled together best practices in family life education specific to various populations was born. We decided to test the idea in a symposium at the annual conference of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). We had a successful symposium at the conference in 2009 and had much positive feedback. We immediately began soliciting chapter authors who would be able to provide valuable insights and contributions to a book on family life education with diverse populations. The result is a book that captures the essence of 11 different populations and provides practical information vital to anyone who works with families.

    There are many potential audiences for this book. First, it can be used as a textbook for courses in family life education, family diversity, human services, and community practice. The book can be used in professional development or training activities with practicing family professionals. Finally, practicing family professionals within community agencies; cooperative extension services; or other local, state, or national organizations that work with diverse populations will find this book to be a valuable resource.

    Judith Myers-Walls (2000) has suggested that family life education is faced with questions of family diversity from three perspectives: (1) What will an educator teach? (2) Whom will an educator teach? (3) How will an educator teach? (p. 359; please see the References in Chapter 1 for the full reference).

    Our book, Family Life Education With Diverse Populations, addresses all three of these questions posed by Myers-Walls.

    This book includes chapters on the following populations: rural families; prison inmates and their families; court-mandated parents and families; military families; grandfamilies: grandparents raising grandchildren; American Indian families; Latino immigrant families; Asian immigrant families; Arab immigrant families; black families; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families. We recognize that there are many populations omitted from this volume. However, great care was taken in selecting these 11 groups. First, we chose populations with clear parameters that might have unique needs. For example, immigrant family groups are included because of the specific issues related to language and cultural adaptation. Similarly, American Indian families are included because of the unique parameters of working on a reservation with Native families. We also make a conscious attempt to fill the gap in the literature. There are some populations for which there are more materials available or whose needs might not demand unique content or methods.

    This book pulls together the best of what is known about working with these 11 populations in an effort to provide a foundation and a starting place for family life educators. The goal of this book is to provide clear information on what research has shown to work (best practices) when designing and implementing family life education programming with various populations. Each chapter is written by an author(s) who has some sort of experience with the respective population and describes this experience at the beginning of the chapter. Each chapter, other than the introductory (Chapter 1) and concluding chapters (Chapter 13), has a consistent format. Using the questions posed by Myers-Walls (2000) in thinking about serving diverse audiences, the first three sections of the chapter answer the question of “Whom will the educator teach?”: (1) defining the population, (2) unique aspects of the population, and (3) strengths and assets of the population. This section lays the foundation for work with this population. There are many in-depth resources available that cover many of these populations. Consequently, the goal was not to duplicate them but to provide an overview of unique aspects of the population that might provide a foundation for programming as well as strengths of the population on which family life educators can build.

    The next sections answer the questions “What will the educator teach?” and “How will the educator teach?” and includes the following specific headings: (1) Current State of Family Life Education With This Population, (2) General Needs of This Population and Rationale for Family Life Education, (3) Marketing/Recruitment, (4) Barriers to Participation, (5) Environmental Considerations, (6) Modes of Learning, (7) Educator Characteristics, (8) Ethical Considerations, and (9) Best Practices in Family Life Education Programming. The chapter concludes with Future Directions. Throughout these sections, authors were asked to glean best practices from the literature and to present a sample of successful or promising programs. We also asked authors to use examples from their own work to illustrate these best practices.

    Chapter 1 further explores issues related to evidence-based practices (EBPs) and programs and the difficulties with which family life educators are faced in negotiating the need for an evidence-base in their work. A Framework for Best Practices in Family Life Education is introduced in an effort to clarify which components of family life education are truly essential for best practice consideration. Chapter 13 concludes the book with a discussion of important components of an effective family life educator and how we can move the profession of family life education forward.

    How to Use this Book

    Information in this book can be used to do the following:

    • Improve an existing program to better reflect the needs of a specific population
    • Adapt a universal program to fit a specific population
    • Develop a new program for a particular population
    • Assess current programming efforts to see if it is adequate for the target audience
    • Increase understanding of various populations, the importance of knowing your audience, and knowing which questions to ask and what program components should be considered when thinking of cultural relevance
    • Increase capacity to adequately meet needs of particular participants within a mixed population (e.g., a parent education class with gay/lesbian parents, Latino immigrant parents, and grandparents raising grandchildren in the audience)
    • Identify evidence-based programs that are available for a given population

    Readers will benefit from the experienced eye of the authors as they present a balance of information and pull it together in a way that has, to date, not been done before. This volume is one that all family life educators will want on their shelf and that they will refer to often. It is our hope that this volume will assist family life educators to better meet the needs of diverse families, thereby strengthening and enriching families.


    As we finished this book, we recognized that we had been involved in this project for nearly 3 years. It was an e-mail exchange on September 19, 2008, from Sharon to Alan with an idea for a book that would fill a needed gap in the field of family life education. We look back at this journey as one in which we've each grown significantly in our personal and professional lives as family life educators and have a stronger understanding of family life education work with diverse populations than ever before. We've come to recognize that we now have more sympathy and compassion for anyone who has taken or will take on the task of editing scholarly books! With that said, we've been fortunate to work closely with some of the brightest and most experienced family life educators. They have written such thought-provoking and interesting chapters for this book. We thank them for their great contributions.

    Along with the chapter authors, there are many other people we would like to thank who have helped to make this book a reality. First, we would like to thank Kassie Graves at Sage and her production team for their assistance, support, and guidance. We would like to thank the reviewers of the initial book proposal for their insightful feedback that immediately began to shape the book into its final product. We would like to thank Sarah Miller for her attention to detail and editorial assistance. Lorraine Blackman was an early contributor on the chapter addressing family life education with black families, and we thank her for her efforts.

    Finally, we would like to thank our families. Sharon would like to thank her husband, Kevin Gross, and her son, Jamie Gross, for their love and continued patience and support during this project. Alan would like to thank his wife, Kelly, for being a wonderful partner and sounding board for his thoughts and ideas associated with this book. She was helpful in her critical review and feedback during the writing and editing process. Alan would also like to thank Kelly and his five children (Bronson, Holden, Camryn, Ethan, and Lauryn) for their constant love and support, particularly associated with this book project.

    About the Editors

    Sharon M. Ballard, PhD, CFLE, CFCS, is an associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. She has been a certified family life educator (CFLE) since 1998 and is serving her seventh year on the CFLE advisory board with the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). After teaching Family and Consumer Sciences for 6 years at the high school level, Sharon completed her graduate work in Child and Family Studies at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and started teaching at the university level. She has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in family life education and family studies, and has conducted a variety of family life education programs in community settings. She has also authored or coauthored numerous journal articles, many of which are about family life education.

    Alan C. Taylor, PhD, CFLE, is an assistant professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. Alan has taught family life education and family relationship curriculum at the university level for the past 14 years. He has worked within the community as a family life educator in a state prison setting and also as a court-mandated parenting instructor. Alan received his master's degree in family life education from Brigham Young University, his PhD in Family and Child Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has held the credential of CFLE since 1998. He has authored or coauthored numerous journal articles and book chapters within edited books.

    About the Contributing Authors

    Menatalla M. Ads, BA, is currently a clinical psychology PhD student at the University of Detroit Mercy. Her BA in general psychology and English language and literature was received from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. Her experience with ethnic populations includes community development projects in Cairo, Egypt, and Detroit, Michigan, and lived experience within multicultural communities. She is presently the teacher assistant of Dr. Libby Balter Blume, PhD, CFLE. Menatalla is contributing to Dr. Blume's current research with Arab American mothers and their daughters, which investigates family-level constructions of nationality, religion, and culture.

    Kristy L. Archuleta, PhD, LMFT, is an assistant professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University. She has served as director and codirector of Women Managing the Farm since 2005 and is currently the director of the Institute of Personal Financial Planning Clinic. Kristy has authored several publications and presented workshops on the topics of money and relationships and rural populations and currently serves as coeditor of the Journal of Financial Therapy. One of Kristy's therapy specializations is working with rural families.

    Eboni J. Baugh, PhD, CFLE, is an assistant professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. Eboni has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in family studies for 11 years and has 5 years' experience as a family and consumer sciences specialist within cooperative extension. She has authored, coauthored, and reviewed journal articles and extension curricula, in addition to training community volunteers and county extension faculty in many areas of family life education.

    Andrew O. Behnke, PhD, CFLE, is an assistant professor and human development extension specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences at North Carolina State University. Andrew partners, designs, implements, and evaluates various family life education programs that foster healthy children, families, and communities. He conducts outreach efforts and publishes applied research in the areas of stress and resilience, teen issues, academic achievement among youth, parent involvement in academics, stress and parenting, and fatherhood. He is recognized in the field for his efforts to serve military families and Latino immigrant families via programs such as the Juntos program, the Illuminando program, and Essential Life Skills for Military Families.

    Libby Balter Blume, PhD, CFLE, is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy where she directs the programs in CFLE, developmental psychology, and community development. She has been a member of the NCFR for 20 years and a CFLE since 1999. Libby teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in human development, family relations, environmental psychology, and women's and gender studies. She has edited family studies journals, coauthored two textbooks on middle childhood and adolescence, and has published book chapters on transnational families, multicultural and critical race feminisms, and the social construction of ethnic identities. Her current research with Arab American immigrant mothers and their teenage daughters explores family-level constructions of nationality, religion, and culture.

    Elizabeth (Bettie Ann) B. Carroll, JD, CFLE, is an associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi, master's degree in marriage and family therapy from East Carolina University, and doctor of jurisprudence from Mississippi College School of Law. She primarily teaches classes in family life education and family law and public policy. She is the principal investigator of the Healthy Marriage Life Skills: A Family Readiness Program, funded by HHS-ACF Healthy Marriage Initiative, which targets Reserve Component and National Guard service members and their families. She coauthored the Essential Life Skills for Military Families curriculum and research interests include family life education for military families, financial literacy, and family history. Before her academic career, she was bond director for the Mississippi Treasury Department and an attorney in the Mississippi Secretary of State's office.

    DeAnna R. Coughlin, BS, is a graduate student in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. She is currently pursuing her master's degree with a specialization in sexuality studies. DeAnna received her bachelor's of science degree from Kansas State University in family studies and human services with a minor in women's studies. DeAnna plans on pursuing a career working with families with a focus on sexuality.

    Saul Feinman, PhD, is professor emeritus of child & family studies (Department of Family & Consumer Sciences) and of sociology at the University of Wyoming and still teaches a variety of sociology courses in the summer session. He has taught at Dine College (formally Navajo Community College), which is the tribal college of the Navajo Nation, and at the San Juan Campus of the College of Eastern Utah (part of Utah State University), where around half of the students are Navajo or Ute. He has also worked as a consultant on issues of cultural diversity, primarily with a focus upon health care and higher education.

    Shann Hwa (Abraham) Hwang, PhD, CFLE, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Sciences at Texas Woman's University. He has been a CFLE since 2000 and is serving his first year on the CFLE advisory board with the NCFR. Abraham has taught family life education and family studies courses at the university level (both undergraduate and graduate) for 10 years. He has also conducted a variety of family life education programs in community settings, particularly with the Asian population. He has authored journal articles, many of which are about family life education.

    Lis Maurer, MS CFLE, is director of the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Education, Outreach, and Services at Ithaca College. Lis has provided family life education in diverse community settings: for students and teachers in the United States, peer educators in Namibia, Girl Scout troops, religious education classes, correctional facilities, day care providers, and communities of elders. The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists has designated Lis a certified sexuality educator and counselor. Maurer is Senior Advisory Editorial Board member of the American Journal of Sexuality Education and serves on the editorial board of The Prevention Researcher. Coeditor of Doing Gender Diversity: Readings in Theory and Real-World Experience, published by Westview Press, Maurer also teaches at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

    Maureen T. Mulroy, PhD, is an associate professor emerita from the University of Connecticut. Cofounder of the Connecticut Parenting Education Network, she was instrumental in the development of the state's parenting educator credential. Currently residing in Tennessee, Maureen continues her work with and for families via pro bono private practice; board membership for children, families, and the community service agencies; and serving as the state representative to the American Psychological Association's (APA) ACT Against Violence initiative.

    Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE, is a professor emerita in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. She has been a CFLE since 1991 and was an extension specialist and university professor for more than 30 years. During that time period, she presented approximately 25 community or regional family life education programs each year; created curricula and developed programs for parents, families, and human service professionals; and taught family life education in the college classroom for 7 years. She helped to coauthor models such as the National Extension Parent Education Model and the National Extension Parenting Educators Framework and most recently cocreated the Domains of Family Practice model.

    Charlotte Shoup Olsen, PhD, CFLE, is a professor and extension specialist in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University. She has authored or coauthored numerous publications and resources for the cooperative extension service that have been used nationwide in family life education settings. She also has conducted a variety of trainings for extension and community-based professionals on the process of planning, delivering, and evaluating family life education programming. In addition, Charlotte is a frequent workshop presenter for delivering family life education to audiences from diverse backgrounds. She has been a CFLE with the NCFR since 1994.

    Dianne Duncan Perrote, MS, CFLE, works for Lux Consulting Group, Inc. in Silver Springs, Maryland. She has been a CFLE for 13 years. Dianne has over 19 years' experience in early childhood education including more than 18 years working with Native American communities. She has demonstrated skills of identifying and developing culturally enhanced methods and strategies based on research and applies them to work in parent involvement, curriculum, and program development. Throughout her career, Dianne has focused on strengthening communities by building collaborations and providing research-based information in order to strengthen capacity.

    Annita A. Sani, PhD, is a clinical psychologist. She has lived and worked in Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), since 2001. Currently, she is an educational consultant in the Department of Special Education for the UAE Ministry of Education and develops policies, procedures, and professional development training programs for determining K through 12 students' eligibility for special education programs and services. Annita was an assistant professor at Zayed University in Dubai from 2001 until 2009 and taught undergraduate courses in psychology, individual and family assessment, and intervention to female Arab students. Prior to moving to the UAE, Annita lived and worked in Michigan and was adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy where she taught undergraduate courses in developmental psychology and was a certified school psychologist. She has experience providing family life education and counseling services to Arab children and their families in Michigan and the UAE.

    Paul L. Schvaneveldt, PhD, CFLE, is an associate professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at Weber State University. He has taught in family science for 17 years and is a CFLE. Paul directs a family literacy program and a federally funded marriage education program serving primarily Latino populations. He was a Fulbright Scholar through the U.S. Department of State and taught, developed programs, and conducted research at universities in Ecuador. Paul served as the chair of the International Section of the NCFR and president of the Family Science Association. He has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters on Latino family dynamics.

    Catherine Clark Morgan Smith, RN, MS, NFA, CFLE, CDON-LTC, with the Essential Life Skills for Military Families project at East Carolina University, is the first North Carolina state employee hired solely as a family life educator. She has presented nationally at numerous professional and military conferences on military family needs and resilience, taught at several community colleges, and was a hospital community education coordinator. Overseas she served as a U.S. Department of Defense school nurse and as the information and referral/site manager for a military family service center. Her association with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps spans 30 years. Her areas of research include military family resiliency and aging within family systems. She has authored or coauthored journal articles, community health columns, health care organization policy and procedural manuals, and research-based curricula.

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