Using Research to Build Better Public Policy for Families
Policy Institute for
Family Impact Seminars

Nancy Nicholas Hall
1300 Linden Drive
Madison WI 53706
Phone: 608-263-2353
Fax: 608-265-6048
Frequently Asked Questions

What is family policy?

What is a family impact lens in policymaking?

Why do we need a family impact lens in policymaking?

Most policymakers would not think of passing a bill without asking, "What's the economic impact?" The Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars encourages policymakers to ask, "What is the impact of this policy on families?" "Would involving families result in more effective and efficient policies?"

Historically, an individualistic perspective has pervaded American society. Most policymaking focuses on the effects and outcomes for individuals—children, youth, women, veterans, the elderly, and the poor—and ignores the effects on families. Over the last twenty-five years there have been a number of attempts to encourage a family impact lens in policymaking. Despite these attempts, there has been no sustained effort to analyze policy from the family impact lens and few groups consistently represent family interests.

Yet supporting families, who in turn support their members, may result in policies that are more effective and efficient. Ample evidence exists that policies that support families are more effective than those that focus on individuals. For example, family-centered policies have proven more effective than individual approaches in enhancing academic achievement, promoting positive youth development, and preventing violence, delinquency and disease.

Families efficiently perform several important functions for their members and society. Families bear and rear the next generation, economically support their members, and care for the elderly, sick and the disabled in ways that no other institution can do or do as well. Government cannot afford to replace the functions served by families, so family-focused policies can end up saving government money in the long run.

Finally, a family impact lens can benefit policymaking in another way—by bringing to policymaking an essential quality that is first learned in families, commitment to others. Families teach the responsibility that individuals have to each other, even when it exacts a personal cost. Applying this perspective to policy decisions has the potential to counter the narrow, self-serving agendas of many lobbyists and special interests. This family impact lens can help craft a policy agenda that recognizes the connectedness of individuals to one another and assumes responsibility for the common good.

What is a family impact analysis?

What are Family Impact Seminars?

What makes the Family Impact Seminars unique?

Do Family Impact Seminars work?

What do participants say about Family Impact Seminars?

When did the Seminars start?

Which states are conducting Family Impact Seminars?

What issues have been covered?

Who conducts the Seminars?

How can my organization apply to be a Family Impact Seminar state site?

If you have trouble accessing this page, require this information in an alternative format, or wish to request a reasonable accommodation because of a disability contact Jennifer Seubert at info@familyimpactseminars.org or 608-263-2353.

Wisconsin capitol photo courtesy of Jeff Miller, UW-Madison University Communications, ©2002.