Chapter 22: Family Law and Public Policy

by Karen Bogenschneider

Article: Meta-Analysis of Family-Centered Help-Giving Practices Research

Dunst, C. J., Trivette, C. M., & Hamby, D. W. (2007). Meta-analysis of family-centered help-giving practices research. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 370-378. doi:10.1002/mrdd.20176

This meta-analysis is an excellent overview of the research on the importance of family-centered practices that is based on studies of 11,000 participants from seven different countries. Participants were involved in wide-ranging programs and services, such as elementary school programs, family support programs, mental health services, neonatal intensive care units, preschool programs, rehabilitation centers, and special education services. The authors propose a theory of how family-centered help-giving can build family responsibility and family efficacy. Programs that used both relational and participatory practices exerted direct effects on family responsibility and indirect effects through their influence on strengthening family self-efficacy.

Article: The Politics of Family

Strach, P. (2006). The politics of family. Polity, 38, 151–173. doi:10.1057/palgrave.polity.2300033

Using the Congressional Record and the academy's record of journal publications, the author provides compelling data about how the research and policy communities view family. The research community, in particular political science, has been relatively silent about family, yet family is a central part of the way the policy community operates on a day-to-day basis and how policymakers accomplish a number of policy goals. The author concludes that the business of Congress is actually conducted in the language of family and provides examples of how families are used to determine eligibility and administer benefits.

Textbook: Evidence-Based Policymaking

Bogenschneider, K., & Corbett, T. (2010). Evidence-based policymaking: Insights from policy-minded researchers and research-minded policymakers. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

The book is pragmatic, drawing on advice from some of the best and brightest informants from both the research and policy communities. In their own voices, researchers provide incisive analysis about how to bridge the research/policy divide, and policymakers provide insights about why they use research, what kind is most useful, where they seek it, and how they screen its quality. The book breaks through stereotypes about what policymakers are like and provides an insider's view of how the policy process really works. Readers will learn what knowledge, skills, approaches, and attitudes are needed to take research findings from the laboratory to lawmaking bodies and how to evaluate one's success in doing so.

Textbook: Family Policy Matters

Bogenschneider, K. (2014). Family policy matters: How policymaking affects families and what professionals can do
(3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

This book integrates the latest research, theory, and cutting-edge practice to make an evidence-based case for family policy. It highlights what family policy is, why it is important, and how family life in the United States differs from other countries. Using policy examples from around the globe, the author explains how families support society and how societies support families. In this edition, Dr. Bogenschneider examines the contributions family considerations can bring to issues such as early childhood education, health care, juvenile crime, long-term care, parent education, and welfare reform. The book 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.

Webpage: Assessing Family Impact

The "Family Impact" section of the Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars website provides a number of tools and up-to-date resources.

For example, the Family Impact Rationale: An Evidence Base for the Family Impact Lens presents the empirical and theoretical rationale for advancing the family impact lens in policies and practice. The companion Family Impact Handbook: How to View Policy and Programs Through the Family Impact Lens provides detailed how-to procedures and tools for operationalizing family support. The site also includes The Family Impact Guide for Policymakers, several family impact checklists, examples of family impact analyses of policies and programs, and so forth.

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