Interim Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform. Overview


The grants awarded to states and counties to study the outcomes of welfare reform on individuals and families who leave the TANF program, who apply for cash welfare but are never enrolled because of non­financial eligibility requirements or diversion programs, and/or who appear to be eligible but are not enrolled have several attributes in common.  All were funded under a competitive announcement of availability of grant funds, and the major purpose of all the grants is to enable grantees to track and monitor how individuals and their families do in the first year after they leave welfare and to provide a foundation for longer follow up.

In their project descriptions, all 14 grantees proposed to use a combination of linked administrative data and surveys to study welfare reform’s outcomes on families leaving the TANF program.  Each study is expected to include at least two cohorts.  All grantees plan to track leavers in linked administrative data for both cohorts.  All grantees proposed to survey sample members, generally drawn from the second cohort.  Most surveys are expected to take 20-30 minutes.  Proposed sample sizes are generally between 600 and 1,200 completed interviews.  With one exception, grantees proposed to conduct a mixed mode survey, with first contact made by telephone when a working telephone number was available.  All funded proposals agreed either to provide a public use file, to provide limited access to project datasets through some form of research review process, or both.

A large number of potential subgroup analyses were proposed by grantees.  Grantees plan to use administrative data, survey data, or a combination of both types of data to address a number of important research questions.  For the purposes of this summary, these research questions are grouped into eight general research topic areas:  employment and earnings, case closures and recidivism, other income supports, health insurance, child care, child well­being, barriers to self­sufficiency, insecurity/deprivation, and other research topics.  Each of these topics is discussed below, followed by a description of each of the 14 projects.