Family Impact Seminars began as a series of two-hour briefings on Capitol Hill for staff of Congressional offices, federal agencies, and policy organizations. Between 1988 and 1998, Theodora Ooms and her staff conducted 42 seminars on a wide range of family policy issues.

In 1999, the federal seminars were ended and attention was redirected to building a network of state Family Impact Seminar sites. At that time, California, Washington DC, and Wisconsin were the only sites conducting Family Impact Seminars. The long-standing mission of the Family Impact Seminar to build the capacity for family-centered policymaking was assumed by the Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In 2015, the Family Impact Institute moved its headquarters to the Center for Families at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.