About the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars

Useful Information Sources

Why 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.
  • The seminars offer state policymakers easy access to one of the top five research organizations in the country—the University of Wisconsin.
  • Rather than lobbying for particular policies, the seminars provide a range of policy options.
  • The seminars provide a neutral, nonpartisan setting outside the political environment for policymakers to discuss issues and seek common ground.

How do policymakers use seminar information?

Legislators report using information from the seminars to develop positions on legislation, such as welfare reform and a cigarette tax. Several features of other states’ prescription drug programs discussed at the seminar were incorporated into Wisconsin’s prescription drug law.

In phone interviews following two seminars on prescription drugs, two legislators reported using seminar information to draft new legislation. Also, 11 legislators (55% response rate) reported applying what they learned at the seminar to:

  • Evaluate pending legislation (100% of respondents),
  • Incorporate into speeches (82%),
  • Share with colleagues (78%), and
  • Contact researchers with questions (30%).

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 the lens of family impacts; and (c) provide neutral, nonpartisan opportunities for legislators to engage in open dialogue for fostering relationships and finding common ground. The Institute, located at the UW-Madison/Extension, provides technical assistance to and facilitates dialogue among the sites conducting Family Impact Seminars which currently includes 25 states and the District of Columbia. Further information on the Institute is available at http://www.familyimpactseminars.org.