Approaches to Evaluating Welfare Reform: Lessons from Five State Demonstrations. 1. California


California's Assistance Payments Demonstration Project (APDP) and Work Pays Demonstration Project (WPDP) were implemented statewide in December 1992 and March 1994, respectively. Four of the state's 57 counties are serving as research counties, where ongoing welfare cases and newly approved applicants for assistance are randomly assigned to experimental or control groups. APDP/WPDP combine cuts in the maximum cash grant (the amount paid to families with no other cash income) with incentives for recipients to obtain jobs and increase their market labor. The incentives, which are common features of welfare reform demonstrations in many states, include removing the time limits on the AFDC $30 and one-third earnings disregards, raising the limit on the assets that a welfare recipient or qualified applicant may own, and eliminating the 100-hour limit on the number of hours per month that the principal earner in a two-parent family may work while the family qualifies for cash assistance (the "100-hour rule").(9) APDP reduces the maximum cash grant by about 11 percent.

To comply with the standard federal terms and conditions for welfare reform waiver demonstrations, California is conducting a random-assignment evaluation of APDP/WPDP. Although California implemented its waivers in phases beginning in December 1992, a single research sample (including both newly approved applicants and recipients) is being used to evaluate the waivers. The subsample of experimental cases is subject to all of the waivers as they are phased in; the subsample of control cases is subject to none of them. Because California's AFDC and Food Stamp programs are administered by the counties, there is no statewide welfare data system, which has presented a major challenge to the evaluation. The state Medicaid data system has been used extensively, and procedures for extracting standardized data from the county data systems have been developed. The Center for Child and Family Policy Studies at UCLA and UC DATA, a research unit at UC Berkeley, are conducting the APDP/WPDP evaluation.