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Keywords:

  • family life education;
  • family policy;
  • family practice;
  • policy as it relates to ethnic families;
  • teaching undergrads

Families have long been recognized for the contributions they make to their members and to society. Yet families are seldom substantively incorporated into the normal course of policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation. We propose the family impact lens as one way to shift the rhetoric from appreciating families to prioritizing them as worthy of study, investment, partnership, and political action. This paper provides the theoretical and empirical rationale for the family impact lens and introduces a toolkit for professionals who conduct or manage programs, teach about families, communicate with policymakers and program administrators, or evaluate programs and policies. Five guiding principles comprise the core of the family impact lens—family responsibility, family stability, family relationships, family diversity, and family engagement. To operationalize these principles, three methodologies are proposed—Family Impact Discussion Starters, the Family Impact Checklist, and Family Impact Analysis. Next steps are proposed for implementation and evaluation.