Families on TANF in Illinois: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Appendix B: Measures of Employment Assets and Liabilities

06/10/2003

We used data collected in the 2001-02 survey of Illinois TANF cases, Unemployment Insurance earnings records, and administrative data from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to create 3 measures of assets and 13 measures of liabilities that TANF case heads bring to employment that are discussed throughout this report. These measures are defined as follows:

Assets

1. High school diploma, GED, or more: Completed high school, its equivalent, or education beyond the high school level.

2. Substantial recent work experience. Positive Unemployment Insurance earnings in at least four of the seven quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which the study population and survey sample were selected. The seven quarters examined were all four quarters in 2000 and the first three quarters of 2001.

3. Performed at least four common job tasks. Has performed at least four of the following common job tasks on a daily or weekly basis, (1) talk with customers face-to-face, (2) talk with customers over the phone, (3) read instructions or reports, (4) write letters or memos, (5) work with a computer, such as word processing or data entry, (6) work with another electronic machine such as a cash register, bar code scanner, or calculator, (7) do arithmetic, including making change, (8) fill out forms, and (9) keep a close watch over gauges, dials, or instruments of any kind. The questions and scoring methods for this measure were adopted from the Women's Employment Study of the Poverty Research and Training Center, University of Michigan.

Liabilities

1. Physical health problem. Self-reported fair or poor general health and a physical functioning score in the lowest quartile based on national norms adjusted for age and gender. Physical functioning was determined following the methodology of the Physical Functioning Scale of the SF-36 Health Survey that asks about ease in performing vigorous physical activities such as running or lifting heavy objects, moderate physical activities such as moving a table or pushing a vacuum cleaner, and daily physical activities such as carrying groceries, walking, and climbing stairs (see Ware et. al 2000).

2. Mental health problem. Experienced psychological distress in the past 30 days and/or probable major depression in the past year. Psychological distress was measured using the K6 Psychological Distress Symptom Scale that asks the frequency of feelings such as depression, hopelessness, restlessness, worthlessness, and nervousness. Individuals who scored 13 or more points on the K6 scale, which ranges from 0 to 24, were classified as experiencing distress. This validated scale has been used in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey and the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (see National Center for Health Statistics 2002; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2002 for scoring instructions and estimates). The probability of major depression was determined following the methodology of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF). Under this methodology, individuals with three or more of seven symptoms of major depression were classified as being at probable risk of major depression (see Nelson et. al 1998). Individuals who volunteered that they were on medication or anti-depressants also were classified as being at probable risk of major depression.

3. Multiple arrests. Arrested on two or more occasions for any felony or misdemeanor charge from November 1996 through September 2002 based on administrative data from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

4. Severe physical domestic violence in past year. Experienced severe physical violence--hitting, beating, choking, using or threatening use of a weapon, or forcing sexual activity--from a domestic partner in the past year. This measure is based on a modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale used in the Women's Employment Study of the Poverty Research and Training Center, University of Michigan.

5. Chemical dependence. Assessed as having probable alcohol dependence and/or probable drug dependence. The probability of having alcohol or drug dependence was determined following the methodology of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF). Under this methodology, individuals with three or more of seven symptoms of dependence were classified as being at probable risk of dependence (see Nelson et. al 1998).

6. Signs of a learning disability. A total score of 12 or more out of a possible 30 points on the Washington State Learning Disabilities Screener.

7. Difficulty with English: Self-reported difficulty speaking, reading, or writing English because it is not her native language.

8. Child or other family member or friend with a health problem or special need. Self-report on having a child with health, behavioral, or other special needs and/or caring for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member or friend.

9. Child under one year old. Self-report on presence of a child under the age of one in the household.

10. Pregnant. Self-report on pregnancy.

11. Child care problem. Self-report on having a child care problem that inhibits ability to take a job, to keep a job, or attend education or training activities. This summary measure was developed from a direct question about child care problems asked of case heads with children under the age of 15 and from two additional questions in which respondents could volunteer that child care was a reason for leaving her most recent job or for never having worked for pay.

12. Transportation problem. Self-report on having a transportation problem that inhibits ability to take a job, keep a job, or attend education or training activities.

13. Unstable housing. Moved two or more times and/or was evicted in the past year.

 

References

National Center for Health Statistics. "Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January-June 2002 National Health Interview Survey." http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/nhis/released200212.htm. Released December 31, 2002.

Nelson, C.B., Kessler, R.C., Mroczek, D. "Scoring the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form." http://www.who.int/msa/cidi.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. "Prevalence and Treatment of Mental Health Problems." http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/nhsda.htm. Updated September 4, 2002.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. "Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment.." http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/nhsda.htm. Updated September 4, 2002.

Ware, J.E., Snow, K.K., Kosinski, M. SF-36 Health Survey: Manual and Interpretation Guide. Lincoln, RI: QualityMetric Incorporated, 1993, 2000.

 

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