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TANF "Leavers", Applicants, and Caseload Studies: Child Well-Being and Outcomes



Welfare reform, though targeted at changing adult behaviors, has a strong potential for affecting children's well-being and development. Both positive and negative outcomes for children are possible, across an array of domains that include child health outcomes, cognitive/school-related outcomes, and socio-emotional/behavioral outcomes. Almost all ASPE welfare outcomes grantees propose to study some indicators of child well-being, generally relying on survey data (e.g., parental reports), but also using administrative data to examine such issues as child abuse and neglect, and foster care placements. In addition to studying direct child outcomes, most grantees also study child care arrangements, health insurance coverage, and other "intervening mechanisms", or factors that may shape child outcomes. Like other outcome measures in non-experimental studies, the child outcomes reported in leavers and diversion studies are descriptive indicators, which are useful for monitoring purposes, but cannot be considered impacts attributable to policy changes under welfare reform.


Survey Questions