Family Impact

Why is it Important to Assess Family Impact?

Most policymakers wouldn’t think of passing a bill without asking, “What’s the economic impact?” The Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars encourages policymakers to routinely ask what the impact of policies or programs might be for families. To learn more about why family impact analysis is important and what it can accomplish, several new (and old) resources are available on this page.

The Family Impact Rationale: An Evidence Base for the Family Impact Lens

fi_rationale_thumbnailFamilies have long been endorsed as a basic building block of a strong and vital society. Investments in family policies and programs can create the conditions for families to do their best in rearing the next generation, in economically supporting their members, and in caring for those who cannot always care for themselves. When the family foundation is strong today, children are more likely to develop the solid foundation they need for tomorrow—to become competent workers in a sound economy and caring, committed citizens in a strong democracy. Yet despite the many important contributions they make to society, families are rarely addressed in the normal routines of policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation. This Family Impact Rationale defines the family impact lens, describing how it can be used, who would find it useful, and what it can accomplish. It presents the empirical and theoretical rationale for promoting the family impact lens in policies and practice. It looks back at the history of family impact analysis and looks forward to its relevance for contemporary families in a changing society. The Rationale is a companion to the Family Impact Handbook that provides detailed “how to” procedures and tools for operationalizing family support.

The Family Impact Handbook: How to View Policy and Program Through the Family Impact Lens

fi_handbook_thumbnailThis Family Impact Handbook operationalizes “how to” bring the family impact lens to policy and practice. One of its features is a Family Impact Toolkit that provides key definitions, key procedures, and key tools of use to legislative and agency staff, policy analysts, human service professionals, program or organization staff, policy and program evaluators, educators, and others. Based on a review of the latest research on families, five principles are identified that form the core of assessing policies and programs for their support of family well-being. Step-by-step procedures are given for three methods—raising the family impact discussion starters, using the family impact checklists, and conducting family impact analysis. Several case studies apply the family impact lens using different methodologies in varied settings. Several examples of family impact analyses are listed along with tools, tips, and cautions.

The Family Impact Guide for Policymakers: Viewing Policies Through the Family Lens

fi_pmguide_thumbnailWhen economic questions arise, economists are routinely consulted for economic data and forecasts. When family questions arise, policymakers can turn to family scientists for data and forecasts to make evidence-informed decisions. The Family Impact Guide for Policymakers was developed to help policymakers bring the family impact lens to policy decisions.

Family Policy Matters: How Policymaking Affects Families and What Professional Can Do

fi_fampolmatters03_thumbnailIf you are an instructor interested in making family policy come alive for undergraduate and graduate students, check out the third edition of Karen Bogenschneider’s book, Family Policy Matters: How Policymaking Affects Families and What Professional Can Do. This best-selling text integrates the latest research and cutting-edge practice to make an evidence-based case for family policy. It uses examples from around the globe to explain how families support society and how policies support families. The book also moves beyond analysis to action with pragmatic processes and procedures for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of policies by viewing them through the lens of family impact. Intended for advanced undergraduate and/or graduate courses in family or social policy taught in human development and family studies, psychology, counseling, social work, sociology, public policy, home economics, consumer science, and education, researchers and practitioners alike appreciate this book’s integration of theory, research, and practice.

For instructors and students looking for case studies from the Ooms and Preister booklet, A Strategy for Strengthening Families, click here to access the applicable passage. The main content of this booklet has been updated within the Family Impact Rationale and Handbook described above.

Family Impact Resources

Learn why family impact is important to policy and practice today and in the past. Learn how to conduct family impact analyses using checklists, procedures, tips, and helpful tools. Check out examples of family impact analysis of programs and policies. Review newsletters and briefs that explain to policymakers the value of viewing issues through the family impact lens. Learn about state policies, federal laws, and international efforts to require or promote family impact analysis.