Spring 2015 Family Policy Section update

Anne Farrell, section secretary/treasurer

NCFR's statement on families and family policy asserts that public policy needs to be evaluated in terms of its intended or unintended effects on families, even when (at face value) policy seems unrelated to family life. Whereas this assertion certainly resonates with NCFR members who explicitly identify as family policy scholars, we invite all members of the NCFR community to reflect on it and to engage actively around policy matters.

The Family Policy Section is committed to assisting the organization as it endeavors to give voice to policy matters through the Policy Advisory Committee. This committee is chaired by Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Crosswhite, and is composed of NCFR Executive Director Diane Cushman, a member of the NCFR Board's Inclusion and Diversity Committee, a member of the Affiliate Councils Board, the Chair of the Family Policy Section, and two to three NCFR members with deep engagement in policy.

The Family Policy Section's commitment emerges from an understanding that even relatively modest policy components can profoundly affect program design, professional development, and community practice. Thus, the ultimate aim of our engagement in family policy is to bring state-of-the-field knowledge about how to promote child, family, and community well-being to the forefront of policymaking—to the betterment of families.

With this commitment in mind, the Section plans a number of activities and objectives intended to inform and promote membership engagement in policy matters and to foster cross-Section collaboration. At November's conference, the Family Policy and Research and Theory Sections cohosted a Section meeting that included an invited talk by Jennifer Crosswhite followed by a lively discussion of the role of scholars and professional organizations in policy debate. Members suggested a range of mechanisms and strategies to ensure that policy-relevant scholarship— and NCFR's articulation thereof—can be sufficiently responsive to policymaking timetables. Members discussed the means by which NCFR's policy and dissemination endeavors can be authoritative and timely and provide a nimble response to policy questions du jour. In addition to providing leadership at the organizational level, the Family Policy Section is contemplating a range of activities that will promote, inform, and showcase policy-relevant scholarship. We are considering a blog that highlights policy-relevant scholarship; dissemination of policy briefs developed by students on timely topics; and promoting, mentoring, and highlighting student accomplishments in the policy arena. We welcome your ideas and energies as we consider the most efficient, concise, and relevant ways to communicate about policy.

As we write this, the deadline for proposal submissions to the 2015 conference nears, and the Family Policy Section enthusiastically invites all NCFR members to consider the implications of their scholarship for family policy. On the face of it, does your work seem unrelated, or loosely related, to policy? We challenge you to consider and articulate the value your research can bring to policy debate. Indeed, we challenge you to identify NCFR scholarship that is not capable of informing the means by which family life can be enriched! We think you'll be hard pressed to do so.

Finally, we'd like to once again celebrate the 2014 accomplishments of Section members. As the proud sponsor of two Feldman Travel Awards and one Outstanding Research Proposal Award, we highlighted the achievements of three talented family scientists: Anthony Ferraro, graduate student at Florida State University; Colleen Vesely, Assistant Professor at George Mason University; and Lorien Jordan, graduate student at the University of Georgia. We will soon be soliciting award applications for the 2015 annual conference. We hope you will consider submitting an application and encouraging your colleagues and graduate students to apply.

Please see our section awards page for details.

Submit that conference proposal to the Family Policy Section! See you in Vancouver.