How are Family Impact Seminars unique?
- Families are widely considered the basic building block of society. We encourage policymakers to consider the impact of policies on families, just as they routinely consider economic or environmental impact.
- Legislators select the topic of every seminar.
- The seminars provide a range of policy options, rather than advocate for particular policies.
- Leveraging the expertise and resources of UW–Madison, the seminars are tailored to legislators and their information needs.
- The seminars provide a nonpartisan venue for legislators to discuss issues across party lines.
How do policymakers use the research presented at the seminars?
Legislators report using information from the seminars in various ways. For example, several features of other states’ prescription drug programs were incorporated into Wisconsin’s senior prescription drug law. After a seminar on early brain science, legislators formed a study committee on healthy early brain development.
Legislators also report using the information to:
- Develop a position on legislation
- Draft new legislation
- Identify others interested in the issue
- Incorporate into speeches
- Share with colleagues
- Evaluate proposed legislation
Between 2015 and 2017, the Family Impact Seminars coordinated a study in two states to better understand what makes a legislator effective. The following preliminary findings are available on these topics:
The Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars are affiliated with the Family Impact Institute which aims to (a) build greater respect for and use of research in policy decisions; (b) encourage policymakers to examine policies and programs through a family-impact lens; and (c) provide neutral, nonpartisan opportunities for legislators to engage in open dialogue, forge relationships, and find common ground. The Institute, located at Purdue University, provides technical assistance to and facilitates dialogue among the sites conducting Family Impact Seminars which currently includes more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. Further information about the Institute is available at www.familyimpactseminars.org.