Analysis of Child Welfare Services Expenditure Data and Child Day Care Expenditure Data: Phase II Report. II. PROJECT METHODOLOGY

09/01/1988

The Project was conducted in two phases. During the first phase, data on Child Welfare and Child Day Care Services expenditures were assembled from the information reported by States through the Voluntary Cooperative Information System (VCIS). State Directors of Child Welfare Services were notified by letter outlining the purpose and intent of the study, and their designated VCIS contacts were asked to assemble the data in preparation for contact by the project staff. Most States were then contacted by telephone to verify the reported data, obtain updated data where none had been reported, and to clarify any anomalies found in the original data.

At the completion of the first stage in data gathering, a report was prepared containing:

  • Details about the background and objectives of the project and the methodology used to compile the data

  • Profiles of State expenditures for the 20 out of 32 States which responded that had significant changes from the original VCIS reports

  • Tables containing the original VCIS data; the revised child welfare expenditure data and the revised child day care expenditure data

  • Preliminary observations relating to the integrity of the data, and recommendations for utilizing this approach for future data gathering efforts

Problems experienced during the first phase included difficulty in reaching the appropriate staff in the States with access to the heeded information; vacation schedules, and other priorities within the States. Inasmuch as the additional data retrieved from the States who were able to respond during the first phase were a major improvement over data previously available, the project consultants recommended a follow-up effort to allow more time to complete data gathering, and to provide the States with an opportunity for a final review and verification of their expenditure information.

A second phase to complete data gathering was subsequently approved by the ASPE Project Officer. In addition to the objectives stated above, attempts were to be made to clarify if Foster Care maintenance payments and training, and Adoption subsidies were included in the reported data, as some discrepancies were noted in the Phase I data.

During the initial few weeks of Phase II, follow-up calls were made to the States who were unable to provide information for the reasons noted above. Data tables were then revised to show the latest inputs, and a letter was transmitted to each State Director of Child Welfare describing the specific actions needed in order to complete the report on national Child Welfare and Child Day Care services expenditures.

State contact persons were asked :

  1. To validate the numbers as shown in the tables.

  2. If the figures for Substitute Care included maintenance payments, and the figure for Adoption included adoption subsidies. If these expenditures were not included, States were asked to provide separates or actual expenditures (if available) -- including related administrative and training expenses.

  3. If the figures contained only SSBG expenditures. If so, expenditures for other Federal, State, and local sources should be added.

  4. To estimate general administrative costs for all Child Welfare Services. The figures provided in the data sent to the States included general and administrative costs for some States estimated by the project consultants. This estimate could be confirmed, or adjusted as necessary. Also, a brief definition of what is contained in administrative costs was requested (This cost figure is usually similar to "General & Administrative Costs" categories used by most businesses, i.e. the percentage allocation for costs that cannot be identified with a specific State government program. But many states have no system for identifying these costs, and the costs contained in this category for States who could provide figures vary considerably).

  5. For estimates of the percent of expenditures for Child Welfare Services in each funding category: Federal, State, and local.

Response by States was excellent.

  • Overall, 42 of the 52 States contacted by phone and/or mail responded to either the Phase I or Phase II inquiry

  • Of those, 40 States either revised the existing information or provided new data

  • 2 States confirmed the original data with no changes

It should also be noted that many of the States offered to provide data for 1986 and 1987 and stated that it was readily available at such time as it was desired for a similar report.

A few States were not able to provide any information due to technical difficulties or other problems. In those instances where State data were not available, estimates were made by the project consultants using various alternative sources. These included SSBG pre-expenditure reports, Title XX grant awards and Title IV-E and Title IV-B allocations, studies conducted by various ASPE contractors, and national not-for-profit organizations whose focus is children's programs.


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