Learn From the Experts: The Family Opportunity Project

What can legislators do to provide economic opportunity for families?

Low- to moderate-income working families can take advantage of an array of policies such as job training, financial services, and child care.

Below is a compilation of audio recordings of the best sessions from the NCSL Opportunities for Working Families Forum by topic. Listen to national experts talk about what policies work to support family economic stability.

 

 

WORKING FAMILIES AUDIO FILES

NCSL Working Families Forum: The Legislative Experience 

During the NCSL Opportunities for Working Families Forum, participants spend up to 4 hours developing an action plan to address an issue that faces working families in their state. Before the first state team time takes place, veteran Forum attendees are asked to talk about the accomplishments of their state teams through the years. Learn how state teams have put their plans into action.

Successful Families Caucus (2014)

Senate President Pam Jochum (D-Iowa) shares how a working families caucus structure allowed legislators from both sides of the isle to explore innovative, comprehensive solutions for Iowa’s struggling communities and families.

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Tax Time Savings and Family Economic Security (2013)

Delegate John Olszewski, Jr. (D-Md.) explains how his team was able to enact legislation to allow individuals who receive a tax refund to purchase US savings bonds or deposit some of their refund into a savings account. 

Senator Mary Caferro (D-Mont.) discusses how the Family Economic Security Program was established after attending the Forum for the first time in 2005.

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Broadening Horizons on Policy Issues  (2012)

Senator Katherine Klausmeier (D-Md.) primarily focused on healthcare and environmental issues before she attended the Forum in 2008. By 2012, she had a seat on the Governors Workforce Investment Board and was a voice for financial education.Find out how the Forum has helped her expand her policy interests.

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Growing Asset Building Coalitions (2011)

Representative Jeannie Darneille (D-Wash.) started an asset building coalition in her district after attending the Forum in 2005. Hear about how her efforts inspired other coalitions to help families become more economically stable across the state.

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Working Together for Working Families (2010)

Senator Amanda McGill (NP-Nebr.) talks about how the Forum gave her a chance to collaborate with her peers and hash out what is important to working families in their state. 

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Keynotes

The Status of America’s Children (2014)

How are kids doing in the U.S.? Learn about the KIDS COUNT report and the work of the Annie E. Casey Foundation to encourage family economic success.

Speaker
Lisa Hamilton, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Maryland

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Presentation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Opportunities for Working Families: A Common Sense Agenda (2010)

What is the philanthropic role in creating opportunities for working families? Learn more about the Annie E. Casey Foundation's work around the nation to raise up low-income communities.

Speaker
Ralph Smith, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Maryland

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Resource

Asset Building

The State of the American Wallet (2014)

Almost half of all U.S. households cannot get their hands on $2,000 within 30 days, suggesting that many Americans are one crisis away from a financial emergency. Hear a consumer finance expert talk about financial education, research about what motivates people to save, and strategies to save and eliminate debt.

Moderator
Qiana Torres Flores, NCSL, Denver

Speaker
Matt Fellowes, HelloWallet, Washington, D.C

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Presentation

Asset Building: An Introduction (2012)

One in four U.S. households is asset poor—they have insufficient financial assets to survive above the poverty line for more than three months. Asset building and policies are ways legislators can encourage working families to gain financial stability.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Colorado

Speaker
Heather McCulloch, Asset Building Strategies, California

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Presentation

Doorways to Dreams:  Innovative Ways to Encourage Savings (2012)

In these tight budget times it is even more important for everyone to put money aside in case of unexpected hardships. Hear about how states are implementing policies that encourage families to save their money.

Moderator
Qiana Torres Flores, NCSL, Colorado

Speakers
Joanna Smith-Ramani, Doorway to Dreams, Massachusetts
Daniel Preysman, Goodwin Proctor LLP, California
Delegate John Olszewski, Jr., Maryland

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Presentations

Resource

Earned Income Tax Credit (2011)

The Internal Revenue Service reports that the earned income tax credit raises over 6 million people—half of them children—above the poverty line each year. States and the private sector are promoting the EITC and offering free tax preparation so that eligibleindividuals claim the credit and keep more of their refund.

Moderator
Rochelle Finzel, NCSL, Denver

Speakers
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Denver
Ellen Evans, Intuit, Washington, D.C.
Douglas Luke, University at Buffalo, New York

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Presentations

Resources

Innovations Panel (2009)

Economic gardening, a strategy to help grow existing companies in a community, originated in Littleton, Colorado after 7,000 jobs were lost when one of their biggest employers closed up shop. BankOn San Francisco sprouted after the city realized that many of its residents did not have a bank account or were not using the ones they had to their advantage.  Learn more about these two innovative strategies and how they turned things around in their communities.

Speakers
Chris Gibbons, City of Littleton Office of Business/Industry Affairs, Colorado
Anne Stuhldreher, The New America Foundation, California

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Presentation

Resource

Budget, Finance and Evaluation

Family Economic Stability: Effective State Policies (2014)

Limited resources and the pressure to cut spending makes it difficult to choose what policies to support and fund. National policy experts share what strategies are most effective in supporting low-income working families, make the best use of tax dollars and have a positive effect on family economic stability.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Denver

Speakers
Ron Haskins, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.
Harry Holzer, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

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Presentations

Cost Benefit Analysis and Fiscal Notes (2013)

Evaluations can help lawmakers find out if they are getting the biggest bang for their buck in making specific public investments. Learn how states use cost benefit analysis to measure the return on public investments and how it differs from a fiscal note.

Moderator
Arturo PĂ©rez, NCSL, Colorado

Speaker
Jonathan Ball, director, Office of Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Utah

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Presentation

Cost Benefit Analysis in Washington State (2012)

Tight budgets provide an opportunity to assess the policies and programs that are most effective in meeting the needs of citizens. Hear how the Washington Legislature uses its research and evaluation capacity to inform decision making.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Denver

Speaker
Steve Aos, Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Washington

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Presentation

Results First: Public Investments in Programs that Work (2011)

In tight budget times, lawmakers are looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars. Learn about Results First, a philanthropic initiative to help states assess the cost effectiveness of spending for public programs, is helping states build the capacity to invest in programs that work. 

Speakers
Representative Jeannie Darneille, Washington
Gary Van Landingham, Pew Center for the States, Washington, D.C.

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Presentation

Pay for Success/Social Impact Bonds (2011)

Hear how Massachusetts and Minnesota work with public and philanthropic investors to deliver better results in public programs. 

Speakers
Christa Velasquez, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Massachusetts
William Pinakiewicz, New England Nonprofit Finance Fund, Massachusetts
Steve Rothschild, Invest in Outcomes, Minnesota

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Presentataions:

Resources:

Economic Development

The Business of Job Creation (2013)

States are bolstering small businesses as a way to create new jobs. Hear how Nebraska and Florida have engaged in microenterprise development and economic gardening policies to start and grow local businesses.

Moderator
Qiana Torres Flores, NCSL, Colorado

Speakers
Rose Jaspersen, executive director, Nebraska Enterprise Fund
Robin Phelps, team lead, National Center for Economic Gardening and GrowFL

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Presentations

Evaluating State Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth (2012)

States spend billions of dollars annually on tax incentives for economic development by offering businesses credits, exemptions and deductions to businesses to locate, hire, expand and invest within their borders. But do they deliver a strong return on public investment? State are assessing whether tax incentives deliver a strong return on taxpayers dollars.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Colorado

Speaker
Robert Zahradnik, The Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C.

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Presentations

The Role of Workforce and Economic Development in Preparing for 21st Century Jobs (2010)

Two national experts discuss the role of economic development and workforce development in supporting job creation in their states and districts. 

Speakers
Ken Poole, Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Virginia
Fred Dedrick, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Massachusetts

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Resources

Education

Preparing a 21st Century Workforce:  The Private Sector and Public Education (2014)

Businesses provide the lion’s share of job training in the US. Government involvement is often criticized as cumbersome and unable to meet private sector needs.  Private companies are collaborating with community colleges and high schools to train students for local jobs. Hear about successful examples of programs and state policies that prepare students for work.

Moderator
Suzanne Hultin, NCSL, Denver

Speakers
Andy Dorsey, Front Range Community College, Colorado
Stacey Whiteside, Children’s Hospital, Colorado

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Presentations

Connections Through the Education Pipeline to Career (2013)

Hear how Colorado has worked with both the private and public sectors to improve connections between the education and workforce systems to help students prepare for college and careers. Learn from their achievements and challenges.

Moderator
Michelle Camacho Liu, NCSL, Colorado

Speakers
Geri Anderson, Community College System, Colorado
Reverend Timothy McMahon, Arrupe Jesuit High School, Colorado

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Presentations

Innovative Policies to Improve College Access and Success (2010)

States are taking action to increase college access and success for working families and low-income students. Hear how.

Speaker
Brenda Bautsch, NCSL, Denver

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Presentation

Health

Triple Aim: State Efforts to Improve Health Costs, Quality and Access (2014)

Health care remains on the front burner for state legislatures nationwide. Learn about what states are doing and how these health reforms could impact low and middle income working families.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Denver

Speaker
Melissa Hansen, NCSL, Denver

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Presentation

Workforce Development

Preparing Workers for Today and Tomorrow’s Jobs (2014)

A healthy economy requires skilled workers for today’s jobs. Effective public education and job training programs, keeping in mind the needs of business, comprise the foundation for success. This session provides an overview of the workforce system and effective approaches such as public private ventures and sector strategies.

Moderator
Rochelle Finzel, NCSL, Denver

Speakers
Bryan Wilson, National Skills Coalition, Washington, D.C.
Scott Jensen, Department of Labor, Maryland

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Presentation

Reversing the Skills Gap: What States are Doing to Prepare the Workforce (2013)

There is a lot of talk about the skills gap in the nation’s workforce. But which skills are lagging and what can states do about it? Learn how states can successfully prepare the workforce for the jobs of the future.

Moderator
Mary Fairchild, NCSL, Colorado

Speaker
Eric Seleznow, National Skills Coalition, Washington, D.C.

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Presentation

Preparing a 21st-Century Workforce (2009)

How can education and the workforce development grow the economy? Hear how states have bridged these two areas to ensure that available jobs are filled by qualified workers.   

Speakers
Julian Alssid, Workforce Strategies Center, New York
Sarah White, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Wisconsin

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Presentations