Iowa's Limited Benefit Plan. D. Research Objectives and Methodologies


At the most general level, the objectives of the LBP Study are to improve our understanding of the characteristics of FIP cases that are assigned to the LBP, why they are assigned, and how they fare when their benefits are terminated. Achieving these objectives requires rigorous, empirically based descriptions of LBP processes and cases. However, purely quantitative evidence cannot fully describe the LBP. Qualitative information is necessary to convey a more intimate picture of the families affected by the LBP. Therefore, this study uses both quantitative and qualitative information to describe the LBP and the cases assigned to it.

At a more specific level, the LBP Study has three sets of objectives, each of which is addressed through a different research methodology. The first set of objectives for the study is to describe the flow of FIP cases through the LBP. This includes documenting the routes by which FIP cases enter and exit the LBP, describing the characteristics of all cases assigned to the LBP and of subsets of cases who pass through certain components of the program, and documenting the cash assistance and Food Stamps received by LBP cases during and immediately after their time in the LBP. To accomplish this set of objectives, we conducted descriptive quantitative analyses of data from DHS administrative files. These administrative files provide a relatively small amount of information on case characteristics and program outcomes for a relatively large number of LBP cases (more than 4,000).

The second set of objectives for the study is to describe the experiences of families that lose cash assistance under the LBP, focusing on the changes in status surrounding the loss of cash assistance, income sources and employment during the six-month period of no cash benefits, coping strategies during that period, and perceptions of the LBP. These objectives constitute the core of this study. A survey specially designed for this study (the LBP Survey) provides a relatively large amount of information on these topics for a relatively small number of families (137) whose cash assistance ended in their seventh month on the LBP. We conducted descriptive quantitative analyses of the LBP Survey data to develop a comprehensive picture of these LBP families.

The study's third and final set of objectives is to present the personal stories of a small, purposefully selected, group of LBP families about how they came to be assigned to the LBP, their interactions with program administrators, how their lives changed following the cessation of cash assistance, and how they are coping with those changes. Structured individual follow-up discussions with 12 families who participated in the LBP Survey provide the information necessary to achieve this set of objectives. We present this information in the form of a narrative analysis.