Interim Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform. Update on 1998 “leavers” grants


In September 1998, ASPE awarded approximately $2.9 million in grants 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 (e.g., up-front job search, cooperation with child support enforcement, immunization) or diversion programs, and/or who appear to be eligible but are not enrolled.  The grants were awarded to 10 states and 3 large counties or consortia of counties under a competitive announcement of availability of grant funds and request for applications, published in the Federal Register in May 1998.  In addition, a grant was made to South Carolina, under a different grant announcement, to expand an on-going project to include a similar study of families leaving TANF.

The major purpose of the 1998 grants was 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.  Grantees are using a combination of linked administrative data sets and surveys of samples of former recipients to monitor welfare outcomes.  A large number of potential subgroup analyses were proposed by grantees, although their ability to carry them out will depend on sample sizes and survey response rates.  Many grantees planned to stratify their samples based on their most important subgroups in order to assure sufficient sample size.  The most common subgroups were based on reason for exit:  sanctions, time limits, employment, and other.  Several grantees planned to look at differences in outcomes for cases in urban versus rural areas.  Many other proposed subgroup analyses were based on demographic characteristics such as age of recipient, age of youngest child, race or ethnicity, and prior education or work experience.

Through administrative and survey data states are addressing a number of important research questions in eight general topic areas including:  employment and earnings, other income supports, health insurance, child care, child well­being, case closures and recidivism, barriers to self­sufficiency, insecurity/deprivation, and other topics.  ASPE anticipates making approximately $1 million of (the $5 million) FY 1999 funding available to provide continuation funding to selected 1998 grantees.  Brief descriptions of each FY 1998 grant project, including estimated project completion dates, are included in Appendix A.  As noted above, interim reports, providing preliminary findings about former TANF recipients in the areas of employment, returns to TANF, and participation in other programs, have been released by four grantees as of mid­May and are expected from the remaining grantees within another month or two.  More detailed findings, including information gathered through survey data, will be presented in the final reports, which should be forthcoming from most grantees in late 1999 and early 2000.  Two grantees (New York and San Mateo County) proposed a two­year project period, with second­year funding subject to grantee performance and availability of funds.