Professional Development

Reimbursement for Parenting Education Services

In a recent White Paper (Jones, Allen & Barnes, 2016) the authors suggest that Parent education needs to become a billable service that can be funded by Medicaid, Medicare and Private Insurance. They assert throughout their article, quite succinctly, that parent education saves State and Federal dollars through providing the support and education needed to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect, which in turn, ends up costing money in treatment of physical and mental health injury. I agree with them and with many of the points the article makes about the benefits of parent education and its effect on reducing harm. They also illustrate efforts made in the last 20 years to professionalize parent education and provide a set of standards that the field is held too.

I believe that until stronger efforts are made to have Legislative bodies and Not-for-Profit Organizations recognize the standards, require certifications/credentials and make this a part of the workforce, Parent Educators will continue to struggle and not succeed in being able to bill for services. When government and private industry begin to acknowledge the benefits of parenting education through funding and workforce development, then being able to bill for services will become a reality.

As a credentialed parent educator in New York State (NYSPEP) and Certified Family Life Educator with the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) , I have not found any value in being credentialed and proving that I meet standards. If anything, my Agency looks good when the accreditation team comes. I haven’t been offered any assistance financially, for my applications for credentialing and receive no support in the continuing reapplications after being certified. And in the case of NCFR, I have to be a dues paying member in order to continue to be recertified. Until professionalism of Parent Educators is achieved, I find it hard to expect that being able to bill for services will be possible.

My State government, local government and grant funders do not ask about credentials or standards that are met. They are only interested in how many people will be served with the smallest amount of funding and have my Supervisor work tirelessly at being able to demonstrate that we are meeting outcomes. In this sense, we are really being looked at as a business. In my community, I am very popular and am a “come to” person. For myself, and I believe other parent educators, we need to work at learning how to become a business.
NCFR seems get this. A group of CFLE’s suggested some coaching around setting up our own businesses. In Continuing Conversation, Mara Briere and Naketta Lowery led a recent webinar in NCFR’s 4-part series, Starting and Running Your Own Family Life Education Business As I have begun my own independent project through the Nurturing Fathers Program of Schenectady (, I am beginning to realize how important it is to be seen from a business perspective and really learning about how to market what we do. Unfortunately our Agencies do not do such a great job of marketing our work and much of this has to be done by us Parent Educators. So in addition to professionalism we must also learn how to run a business. Perhaps when we are viewed from a business perspective, we can begin billing.

Wales Brown
Credentialed Senior Parenting Educator, Schenectady, New York
NPEN Council Member, Secretary

3 Comments to “Reimbursement for Parenting Education Services”
  1. Hi Wales,

    I’m just now seeing this, but wanted to say thank you so much for writing and letting us learn more about your views around advocacy efforts needed for our field. I did a guest lecture in a family science policy class for our students this week. They had to identify a family policy and talk about what they found, and I shared the white paper you referred to and then we had a group discussion. The question they kept asking in various forms is “why aren’t we (meaning parenting educators and family life educators) more political?”. They easily found evidence of similar fields doing a great job of sharing their science with the public and with legislators, but didn’t find a whole lot from our field.

    I guess what I am saying is that I agree with you completely. I also don’t have the answers, but I am interested in being part of a movement that helps parents get the support they need. What are we to do?


    Jones, S., Allen, K., & Barnes, J. (2016). Reimbursement for Parenting Education Services to Promote Family Health and Wellbeing. Retrieved from

  2. Hello,
    I would also like to be part of a movement that helps parents get the support they need while professionals are able to bill appropriately for the services we provide!

  3. Thanks so much for this commentary, Wales. I couldn’t agree more. I was a co-founder of the CT Parenting Education Network and within a few years of establishing our group I helped start our credentialing process for the state of Connecticut. However we have the same situation that you describe – the credential does not go far. The solution that I ended up finding was to go back to school and obtain a second Masters degree in Social Work. I think we should look at the work of the National Association of Social Workers. NASW was one of the first organizations to win third party reimbursement for services. Once I completed my MSW and received 100 hours of supervision for 1000 hours of work with clients, I was able to take an exam and obtain my license. With that I can see clients and provide therapy and parenting support.

    Where I believe NASW missed the boat is that social work license are administered state by state and not all state have reciprocity. So if I leave Connecticut and move to Florida for example, I will probably have to take some courses or re-take an exam or something like that to practice and obtain reimbursement. Ideally we would pursue a national license. I presume doctors and nurses and PA’s have those kinds of licenses but I am not sure.

    The issues we face as NPEN I think is to work to define best practices with more precision and do the hard work of advocacy as you have so well described. Thanks for raising the issue!

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