Evaluating Two Approaches to Case Management: Implementation, Participation Patterns, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of the Columbus Welfare-to-Work Program. Impacts on AFDC Receipt and Payments

06/01/2001

The employment gains in Columbus were accompanied by cash assistance reductions. Over a three-year period, control group members received AFDC for an average of about 21 1/2 months (see Table 5.2). The integrated program reduced AFDC receipt by more than 2 1/2 months, a decrease of 12 percent relative to the control group mean. The traditional program reduced receipt to a lesser extent  by about 1 2/3 months, or 8 percent. The integrated program's reduction in months of welfare receipt was the largest among the education-focused programs in the NEWWS Evaluation.(8) The Columbus program impacts on cash assistance receipt grew throughout the follow-up period. In the last quarter of year 3, 40.3 percent of the control group received AFDC benefits compared with 33.2 percent of the integrated group and 34.9 percent of the traditional group (see Appendix Table C.1).

Table 5.2
Program Impacts on AFDC Receipt and Payments
  Integrated-Control Comparison Traditional-Control Comparison  
Outcome Integrated Group Control Group Difference (Impact) Percentage Change Traditional Group Control Group Difference (Impact) Percentage Change Integrated-
Traditional Difference (Impact)
Ever received AFDC, years 1-3 (%) 96.4 96.9 -0.5 -0.6 96.3 96.9 -0.6 -0.7 0.1
Year1 95.8 96.6 -0.8 -0.8 96.0 96.6 -0.6 -0.6 -0.2
Year2 65.1 69.1 -4.0*** -5.7 65.9 69.1 -3.2** -4.6 -0.8
Year3 47.0 54.4 -7.4*** -13.6 49.0 54.4 -5.4*** -10.0 -2.0
Months received AFDC, years 1-3 18.87 21.48 -2.61*** -12.2 19.77 21.48 -1.71*** -8.0 -0.90***
Year1 8.91 9.62 -0.71*** -7.3 9.16 9.62 -0.46*** -4.8 -0.25**
Year2 5.91 6.79 -0.87*** -12.9 6.22 6.79 -0.57*** -8.4 -0.30**
Year3 4.04 5.08 -1.03*** -20.4 4.39 5.08 -0.68*** -13.5 -0.35**
AFDC amount, years 1-3 ($) 6,071 7,151 -1,079*** -15.1 6,335 7,151 -816*** -11.4 -264**
Year1 2,880 3,199 -318*** -10.0 2,950 3,199 -249*** -7.8 -70*
Year2 1,895 2,270 -375*** -16.5 1,989 2,270 -281*** -12.4 -95**
Year3 1,297 1,682 -386*** -22.9 1,396 1,682 -286*** -17.0 -99**
Sample size (total = 7,242) 2,513 2,159     2,570 2,159      
Sources: MDRC calculations from Ohio AFDC records.
Notes: Estimates were regression-ajusted using ordinary least squares, controlling for pre-random assignment characteristics of sample members. "Percentage change" equals 100 times "difference"divided by "control group". Rounding may cause slight discrepancies in calculating sums and difference. A two-tailed t-test was applied to differences between outcomes for the program and control groups and to differences between outcomes for the integrated and traditional program groups. Statistical significance levels are indicated as:*= 10 percent; ** = 5 percent; *** = 1 percent. Year 1 refers to quarters 2 to 5; year 2 refers to quarters 6 to 9; year 3 refers 10 to 13. Because quarter 1, the quarter of random assignment, may contain some earnings and AFDC payments from the period prior to random assignment, it is excluded from follow-up measures.

Over three years, control group members received an average of $7,151 in AFDC payments. Both programs reduced welfare payments, but the integrated program's impacts were larger. Integrated group members received an average of $6,071 in AFDC payments over the three-year period, a reduction of $1,079, or 15 percent, compared with the control mean, and traditional group members received an average of $6,335, a reduction of $816, or 11 percent. The percentage reduction in the integrated program is the largest reduction among the NEWWS Evaluation education-focused programs.(9) Most of the decrease in AFDC payments occurred because integrated and traditional group members spent less time on welfare than their control group counterparts, rather than receiving lower grant amounts.(10)

The programs reduced AFDC payments during each year of follow-up; the effects grew over time and remained substantial at the end of year 3 (see Appendix Table C.1). This suggests that the reductions are very likely to persist during the fourth year of follow-up. The fact that during year 1 the programs reduced welfare receipt and payments but did not increase employment and earnings suggests that some people may have left the welfare rolls to avoid the participation mandate.

As hypothesized, the integrated program generated larger reductions in welfare receipt and payments than the traditional program. This difference occurred because integrated group members spent less time on welfare, on average, than their traditional group counterparts.(11) In other words, the integrated case management structure facilitated case closures. Specifically, integrated case managers closed cases more quickly, on average, than traditional staff. They also closed cases that would have remained open in the traditional program, likely because they were better able to detect individuals who should not be receiving welfare.