Approaches to Evaluating Welfare Reform: Lessons from Five State Demonstrations. B. SELECTION OF FIVE WELFARE REFORM EVALUATIONS


Because of budget limitations, the number of welfare reform demonstration evaluations considered in this study was restricted to five. DHHS identified 30 states that were evaluating waiver demonstrations. Several of these states had implemented more than one set of reforms and, consequently, were conducting multiple evaluations. The following criteria guided the selection of five evaluations to study:

  1. Degree of completion of the evaluation
  2. Anticipated level of cooperation by the state and the evaluator
  3. Relevance of the intervention to broader welfare policy, in the sense of including features common in many waiver demonstrations and likely to continue in a block grant environment(7)
  4. Design for the evaluation: experimental or quasi-experimental (comparison group)
  5. Complexity of the intervention (ranging from a very focused change to comprehensive welfare reform)
  6. Type of evaluator (for example, university, policy research firm)

We sought evaluations that demonstrated strength in criteria 1 through 3 and diversity in criteria 4 through 6. In making our selections, we also sought to achieve geographic diversity and gave preference to states with larger populations or welfare caseloads; however, we were more willing to compromise on the latter criteria than on the six listed here.

On the basis of these criteria, we selected the following five states and associated waiver demonstrations and evaluations:

  1. California: (1) the Assistance Payments Demonstration Project, and (2) the Work Pays Demonstration Project
  2. Colorado: the Colorado Personal Responsibility and Employment Program
  3. Michigan: To Strengthen Michigan Families
  4. Minnesota: Minnesota Family Investment Program
  5. Wisconsin: Work Not Welfare