Monitoring Outcomes for Former Welfare Recipients: A Review of 11 Survey Instruments. Footnotes

08/11/1999

1.  The 14 grantees are:  Arizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, Cuyahoga County (OH), Los Angeles County (CA), and a consortium of San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties in California.

 

2.  It was difficult to choose outcome measures for this analysis.  The food security measure was chosen in order to examine how grantees responded to an 18-item food insecurity module that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and disseminated to all grantees.  The other outcome measures were selected partly as a complement to the food security measures and partly as a result of the high levels of attention being focused on issues of Medicaid and food stamp receipt.

3.  Proposed sample sizes are much smaller — 300 to 330 — for three grantees (Cuyahoga County, Los Angeles County, and the District of Columbia).  Two grantees, Florida and Georgia, proposed much larger sample sizes (15,000 and 7,800, respectively).  Also note that one grantee — Missouri — proposed interviewing recipients a full 24 months after exit.

4.  For discussion of the difficulty of making cross­state comparisons in the absence of common measures, see the General Accounting Office report, Welfare Reform:  Information on Former Recipients’ Status, GAO/HEHS-99-48 (April 1999) and the Urban Institute issue brief, Where Are They Now?  What States’ Studies of People Who Left Welfare Tell Us, a product of Assessing the New Federalism, Series A, No. A-32 (May 1999).

5.  After extended discussion, all grantees came to agree on a common definition of leavers as cases that leave cash assistance and remain off cash assistance for a minimum of two months.  Initially, some grantees had wanted to limit the study to those families that remained off welfare at the time of interview (as much as ten to twelve months after exit).  This approach, however, severely limits our understanding of why some families are successful in remaining off welfare while others return to the rolls.  Other grantees wanted to look at cases that closed for one month and then re-opened, because of the policy interest in understanding the effects of full­benefit sanctions.  Many “one-month” closings, however, are exits due to administrative churning, rather than “true” exits.  The two-month definition was developed as a compromise.

Note that two states — Arizona and New York — plan to study “one month and longer” leavers, but will conduct analyses of the sub­group of “two-month” leavers in order to increase comparability across studies.  Also note that while some grantees limit the study population to single­parent cases, some include two-parent cases and a smaller number include child­only cases.  In most cases, however, all grantees are reporting at least some findings for the “single­parent two-month leavers” that are common across all studies.

6.  More information about the guidance on administrative data outcomes or the electronic list serve for leavers researchers is available from the author at julia.isaacs@hhs.gov.

7.  Further information about both the administrative and survey data in these topical areas is provided in Appendix A of ASPE’s Interim Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, posted on the ASPE/HSP web site at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/hspwelfare.htm.

8.  Cuyahoga and Los Angeles are two of the four sites in MDRC’s Study of Devolution and Change (Urban Change) and both sites are using the same instrument and similar analyses.

9.  The Wisconsin survey explicitly defines immediate family, stating, “For the purposes of the next few questions, family members include only your children and your spouse, or the parent of at least one of your children.”  The Cuyahoga/L.A. survey asks, “Did you receive any food stamps” and “Did anyone else in your immediate family receive food stamps?”

10.  In particular, see Price, Hamilton, and Cook, Guide to Implementing the Core Food Security Module.  Alexandria, VA:  U. S. Department of Agriculture (September 1997).

11.  During discussions of the food security questions at the first grantee meeting, there was some confusion between the 18-item scale and the questionnaire, which is numbered from #1 – #16.  The 18-item scale is built on Questions #2 – #16 from the core module, including three follow-up questions (#8a, #12a, and #14a).  The first question, a three­part question, is not used in the 18-item scale, but is included in the core module because of its in past surveys and its potential as a screener for the other questions.

12.  The full 18-item scale has been used to classify U.S. households into four categories:  food secure, food insecure without hunger, food insecure with moderate hunger, and food insecure with severe hunger.

13.  Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, and Iowa are using the 6-item scale, as well as Question #1 from the 1997 version of the module.  Minnesota, the fifth state involved in the operational phase of this project, is simply fielding Question #1.

14.  The 13 states in the National Survey of America’s Families include Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.  Researchers from Child Trends worked on the food insecurity and other child outcome measures in both the Child Outcomes Project and the NSAF.

15.  An additional survey not included in this review, an Institute for Research on Poverty survey of welfare applicants in Milwaukee, asks families, “Can someone receive Medicaid (food stamps) without participating in W-2 [state name for TANF]?”  This seems to me to be another example of a more neutrally phrased question.