The Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars program is rooted in the belief that good government ought to be based on hard evidence drawn from rigorous research and analysis. Recently policymakers have begun to ask more frequently for evidence-based information to guide their decisions. Yet policymakers do not have the staff or time to gather all the relevant data on the many complex issues that confront them. The information that policymakers receive is often fragmented, biased, and less focused on family issues. In response, the Family Impact Seminars provide high-quality, objective information to policymakers and examine policies through a family impact lens.
Since 1993, the seminars have attracted legislators from both sides of the aisle. Seventy-five current legislators have participated in at least one seminar event and another 20 offices have sent a legislative aide. Thus, the seminars have reached 72% of Wisconsin’s 132 legislative offices.
In evaluations, participants rate the seminars highly. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), the average objectivity rating for all 38 seminars is 4.4. These high marks on objectivity were not at the expense of the seminar’s relevance (4.4) or usefulness (4.2).