The NCSL Blog


By Mary Fairchild and Jessica Hathaway

How many of us know a family that, despite their best hard work and efforts, just can’t seem to quite make it financially?

For the past 12 years, NCSL has brought legislators together to think about this question and learn more about what it takes for an American family to reach and sustain economic stability in today’s world.

In addition to time spent in issue sessions on this topic, legislators also worked to develop action plans on related policy at the Opportunities for Working Families meeting which was held last week in Denver.

Legislators from Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee and Utah attended the meeting as members of a team appointed by their presiding officers. Legislators from the NCSL Women’s Legislative Network also attended. 

Participants were briefed by experts from the education, workforce, business and policy fields about what is essential for working families to succeed.

Issue sessions covered a wide range of topics, including education and training, employer demand for jobs, microbusiness as a pathway to self-sufficiency, income supports for working families such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care, and the importance of personal savings to protect against financial setbacks.

Legislators also participated in critical discussions about ways to make sure that public money is invested wisely and they identified areas for improvement in their state’s infrastructure for working families. 

Since 2003, 325 legislators from 37 states have attended the meeting, resulting in more than 100 (and counting!) concrete policy actions spearheaded by team members. The hard work exhibited by legislators at the meeting is a reflection of their dedication, practicality and commitment to improving the lives of working families in their states and communities.

The meeting is made possible by a substantial gift to NCSL from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF).  AECF was founded by Jim Casey, who started the United Parcel Service and was raised by a single mother, Annie, inspiring his dedication to the issues that matter most to today’s working families. 

Jessica Hathaway is a research analyst in the Working Families Project.

Email Jessica

Mary Fairchild is a senior fellow in the Working Families Project.

Email Mary



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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.