What is HEF?


HEF was established in 1991 to raise support and direct lobbying for home education in Florida. HEF exists to safeguard existing legislation and evaluate future legislation.


How Did HEF Begin? Print E-mail


Craig and Brenda Dickinson were among the pioneers in the home education movement. There were no laws in Florida legalizing home education when they began in 1981. Registering as a private school was the only legal option. However, some families who were registered with private schools were being charged with truancy and threatened with loss of custody.

In 1984, Craig began to draft legislation for the home education law and approached Rep. Daniel Webster (Orlando), who also wanted to home educate his children, to sponsor the bill. They worked in the face of opposition for the next eight months to educate and win support for this controversial issue. Despite overwhelming odds, the bill miraculously passed the Legislature in one session. Gov. Bob Graham’s staff placed the bill on a recommend veto list; however, Craig was able to address the concerns and the bill was signed

Craig worked diligently to fight attempts to add regulation to the law. In 1990, he defeated six proposals to change the requirements. However, hidden in a large bill, a measure passed designed to prevent child abusers from home educating. This law would have required every parent’s name to be cleared through HRS Child Abuse Registry before being "permitted" to home educate. Home education in Florida would have virtually ceased, but Craig intervened and worked with the Department of Education to develop an affidavit to allow home education to continue.

At this time, Craig was the voluntary lobbyist for home education. After the 1990 session, it became obvious a full-time lobbyist was necessary. Craig and Brenda invested time and money into touring the state to inform support groups of the need; after much work the Home Education Foundation was established.

In 1992, Craig was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma cancer and passed away in 1993.

With the loss of her husband and the challenge of raising and educating two children, Brenda considered dissolving HEF and the overwhelming responsibilities associated with lobbying. However, she felt directed to continue the work and has been the full-time home education lobbyist since 1993.


Why Does HEF Exist? PDF Print E-mail
  • To PROMOTE and unify legislative action among home educators.
  • To evaluate and MONITOR issues which may affect home educators.
  • To INITIATE, draft and find sponsors for legislation to protect the rights and expand the privileges of home educators.
  • To PLAN, direct and coordinate lobbying efforts.
  • To EDUCATE Florida legislators about home education.
  • To provide a year round PRESENCE and a consistent voice for home educators in the Legislature and Department of Education.
What Does YOUR Lobbyist Do Year Round For You? PDF Print E-mail
  • Develops relationships with legislators and people in state agencies who may impact home education.
  • Cultivates trust of legislators over time, by visiting, assisting with information, answering questions and resolving concerns.
  • Monitors approximately 1,800 bills each Legislative Session to protect home education.
  • Seeks alternative solutions to issues affecting home educators as they arise in the Legislature, thus preventing further restrictive legislation.
  • Serves on advisory boards to create respect, opportunities and to protect home educators.
What has HEF Done? PDF Print E-mail

Without HEF and Brenda, home educators would not enjoy:

  • Tuition-free dual enrollment at colleges and universities
  • Extracurricular activities at public or private high schools
  • Bright Futures scholarships
  • The elimination of the child abuse provision and the data base survey requirements
  • An affidavit that allows home educated students to enter community colleges without getting their GED
  • Florida On-line High School participation for non-public schools and home educators
What Are People Saying About HEF? PDF Print E-mail

 Dear Brenda,
    I cannot thank you enough for all your help not only with 'B' and her family but also for the help educating these individuals about home school laws in Lake County. I am overjoyed with the results that everyone involved achieved. 'B's sons are so happy right now with all the stress and pressure of the system lifted off their young shoulders. It seemed that all of these people we were up against, in this battle, were supposed to be helping those boys, but instead they would have destroyed them in the end.
    A friend and I are thinking of starting a support system for families and children at risk for drop out. I really think she and I should start an Orientation group for parents in this county who want to home school. In the end not just one family will benefit from this process but many families may find it easier to start their home school adventures in the future because of your efforts.
    I have not enjoyed this experience but I have learned a great deal from it and for that I am thankful. You have surely earned a beautiful set of wings for this one.
God Bless,

"Brenda Dickinson has done an outstanding job promoting home education issues. She is diligent, thorough, dedicated and determined. Brenda is an ideal model for all home educators and her presence in the legislative process enhances home education’s appeal to the Legislature."
Senator Daniel Webster
Republican - Orlando

"Brenda Dickinson has been the voice of calm and reason throughout a long and emotionally charged debate on home education. She has the respect of many legislators for her effective lobbying skills and commitment to the cause of home education."
Former Representative Cynthia Moore Chestnut
Democrat - Gainesville

"Brenda Dickinson has done an outstanding job advocating on behalf of home school families. I appreciate her insight and understanding of the Legislative process. Her contributions to protecting the rights of home school students have made a great difference in Tallahassee."
Representative Mike Fasano
Majority Leader