A diverse group of more than 30 state lawmakers, legislative staff members, legislative service agency analysts, and staff from the Governor’s office attended the second Office Hours at the Capitol – presented by the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars and the La Follette School – on Wednesday, May 16.
The drop-in event in the Wisconsin State Capitol allowed participants to connect with UW–Madison faculty members on timely legislative topics: adolescent brain development and juvenile offender treatment, economic and workforce development, and public benefits for low-income families.
Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist Michael Caldwell shared the latest research on the teenage brain and effective treatment programs for offenders. Yunji Kim, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Local Government Extension Specialist, and Extension Specialist Matt Kures answered a wide range of questions about ways to increase Wisconsin’s workforce and support the state’s economy. Professor of Public Affairs and Economics Tim Smeeding discussed child care subsidies, employment programs, and other support for low-income families.
“After the overwhelmingly positive response from the first Office Hours in September, we knew we had to offer this event once each semester,” said Heidi Normandin (MA ’98), associate director of the Family Impact Seminars and senior outreach specialist with the La Follette School. “Legislators and their staff have access to an abundance of information, but our goal is to help them connect to high-quality, research-based information. Office Hours makes it easy for them to talk directly with the country’s top researchers about the policy issues they are grappling with today.”
Participants received information sheets that included each faculty member’s top three takeaways for legislators, as well as their contact information and areas of expertise so legislators could follow up and continue the conversation. Also on hand were Human Development and Family Studies Associate Professor Janean Dilworth-Bart and Mary Beth Collins, Director of Research and Public Affairs for the School of Human Ecology Center for Child and Family Well-Being, who discussed the Prenatal to Five Initiative, which is working to advance best practices and strategies for improving the lives of children and families in Wisconsin.