Approaches to Evaluating Welfare Reform: Lessons from Five State Demonstrations. b. Timing of Baseline Data Collection

10/01/1996

The issue concerning the timing of baseline data collection is whether it is necessary that data pertain to a period strictly before random assignment or whether the data may cover a period that goes slightly beyond the date of random assignment. If administrative data are being used for baseline characteristics, one concern is that data on new applicants will generally reflect a time slightly after random assignment (for example, if data are extracted only at the end of the quarter), and may thus be affected by the program. If a survey or form filled out at application or redetermination is being used, the issue is whether data must be collected at the time of random assignment (generally no more than a few days or a few hours before random assignment, but with retrospective questions), or whether it is acceptable to collect data within a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months after random assignment.