University of Maryland Extension

University of Maryland Extension Receives National Education Award for Community Health Insurance Program

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The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) honored a team from University of Maryland Extension (UME) with the 2014 Family Economics and Resource Management (FERM) Education Award at a ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri last month. Bonnie Braun, Lynn Little and Virginia Brown led UME’s award-winning team in the development of an educational program called Smart Choice Health Insurance.

“I’m honored that my professional association would acknowledge the value of Smart Choice Health Insurance with this award, which I share with the leadership team,” said Braun.

The FERM Education Award recognizes an individual or team who has made contributions to individuals, families, and communities through exceptional education programming in family economics and/or resource management. This covers a variety of curriculum programs that can range from public school, colleges or universities, Extension or community programs, and electronic or web-based programs.

Smart Choice Health Insurance teaches consumers how to purchase and use health insurance. Consumers attend a two-hour workshop in which they are equipped with the tools, understanding, and confidence needed to make the best possible decision when choosing a health insurance plan. The workshop discusses the process of obtaining health insurance coverage and factors to consider as well as financial literacy and resource management. Currently Smart Choice has 89 certified educators to conduct the workshops in 25 states throughout the United States.

The UME team that created Smart Choice includes Braun, Little and Brown, as well as Amanda Ginter, Jinhee Kim, Teresa McCoy, and Mia Baytop Russell. Chris Garcia from the University of Maryland’s Department of Residential Facilities and Maria Pippidis from the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension also helped develop and test educational materials for Smart Choice.

About the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS):
Based in the Washington, D.C. area, AAFCS is dedicated to providing research-based knowledge about the topics of everyday life to help create healthy and sustainable families. AAFCS members are located nationwide, and include educators, administrators and managers, human service and business professionals, researchers, community volunteers, and consultants who develop information and deliver programs on essential skills to help individuals and families be better prepared to live, work, and succeed in today’s complex and diverse world.

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