Family Impact Institute at Purdue to provide research, data for government leaders

April 30, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Center for Families at Purdue University will be the home of the Family Impact Institute, a nationally recognized institute that provides the latest in family research in areas of child abuse, food security, mental health and working families, to government and policy leaders.

The Family Impact Institute will be housed in Purdue's Center for Families and it will launch operations this summer. It has been at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1999 and it is the national headquarters for state-focused Family Impact Seminars, which are offered in 26 states including Indiana. The seminars educate legislators about the state of the science regarding family-relevant policies currently under legislative debate, said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Family Impact Institute. Seminars also provide legislators with a neutral forum in which to engage in learning and discussion.

"We are very excited to welcome the institute to Purdue," said Doran French, professor and head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "Not only will FII strengthen our current relationship with legislators, we are also working to create a very unique experience for students seeking a degree here. They will have the opportunity to engage with legislators and universities from around the country, providing the most recent research to influence policy affecting families. The possibilities are endless."

At Purdue, the institute will be funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as well as supported by multiple Purdue units, including Extension, the Global Policy Research Institute, the department of Human Development and Family Studies, the Brian Lamb School of Communication, the Department of Political Science, and the Purdue Honors College.

Karen Bogenschneider, the previous director of the Family Impact Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is now serving as research director for the institute.

"Dr. Bogenschneider has spent her academic career working to build better public policy for families by making family policy a serious, priority topic of communication and implementation among policymakers nationwide," MacDermid Wadsworth said.

To date, more than 190 Family Impact Seminars have been convened for state policymakers across the country. Topics covered include after-school programs, children's health insurance, early childhood care and education, juvenile crime and welfare reform.

"Family Impact Seminars are an award-winning and cost-effective model for communicating high-quality, objective research to state policymakers on timely topics they identify," Bogenschneider said. "As family policy scholars, we must assume responsibility for communicating with decision-makers to help them see families, not as the private problems of individual families, but as public priorities for policy and program decisions."

Founded in 1994, the Center for Families is an initiative of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Its mission is to help improve the quality of life for families, and the Family Impact Institute is the second national research institute for the center. The first is the nationally known Military Family Research Institute. The Center for Families integrates outreach, teaching, and research activities that support families, through increased and enhanced collaborations among academic disciplines, professionals, policymakers, corporations and community organizations. 

News Service Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, 

Sources: Kate Kester, assistant director of Center for Families,

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director for Center for Families, 

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