Family Policy

AFTA Family Policy Committee

The Family Policy Committee has a long and continuous history in AFTA having been established in 1987. The Family Policy Committee is charged with: 1) providing information to the membership on salient social issues; 2) determining to what extent and in what ways AFTA should be involved in social policy positions; 3) identifying salient issues for focus each year; and 4) serving as a clearinghouse for members who wish to propose specific social policy-related action for Board approval.

Through the efforts of the Family Policy Committee and others, in conjunction with the Board, AFTA has communicated with congressional leaders and the President of the United States on issues such as the impact of the federal budget on families and the working poor, the impact of Gulf War Crisis on families, reproductive rights and the Marriage Resolution regarding same gender couples.

Family Policy Forums at the Annual Meeting have often generated position statements or other initiatives for AFTA. Forums such as “Post-9/11 Immigrant Profiling and Denial of Due Process” in 2002 with a presenter from the Center for Constitutional Rights have addressed, for example, the impact of US immigration policies and the erosion of freedoms post 9/11. Similarly, in 2003 the Director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center presented on the detention of immigrants. These issues were then further addressed in the 2006 AFTA Monograph. In recent years, the Family Policy Committee has often worked collaboratively with the Human Rights Committee and the Economic and Cultural Diversity Committee to develop ‘Joint Forums’ such as the 2007 Forum which sought to develop goals for an AFTA action group related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Family Policy Forums often follow the theme of the Annual Meeting such as the 2008 forum: “Promoting Family and Community Resilience as Policy in Disaster Mental Health” which brought together AFTA Members and others who are working in New Orleans and/or have significant disaster mental health background and experience in anticipation of the 2009 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. This meeting focused on integrating anti-racist, social health and community resilience perspectives disaster mental health policy.

AFTA Policy on Definition of the Family

Families are a critical resource in United States society, but narrow definitions of the family limit positive benefits for vast numbers of United States citizens. Public policies based on these narrow definitions are not relevant to the realities of family life in the United States. Only 12 percent of current families in the United States consist of a breadwinner father, homemaker mother and children.

It is the conviction of the members of the American Family Therapy Academy that the development of multiple family forms in fact is evidence of the family's resilience and adaptability in our highly diverse, multi-cultural society.

It is furthermore the position of this organization that to assure recognition, support and equality for all families, the public definition of the family must be expanded to include, among others, single parents with children, gay and lesbian couples, stepfamilies, adults raising foster children, and unmarried heterosexual couples in committed relationships.

Download AFTA's Position Paper on Same-Sex Marriage here