Monitoring Outcomes for Former Welfare Recipients: A Review of 11 Survey Instruments. Research Topics in the Leavers Studies

08/11/1999

In their research plans, all grantees proposed to collect survey information about employment and earnings, household income, program participation, and child and family well­being.  There were differences in emphasis, however, as some grantees proposed asking extensive questions about employment and training services, others focused on collecting detailed information on household income across all household members, and still others wanted to ask extended questions on child well­being.  A brief overview of the questions addressed in the survey instruments is provided below, with questions grouped into nine topical areas for ease of presentation.(7)

Employment and earnings

Almost all grantees ask survey questions about wage levels, hours worked, and types of jobs or occupations.  In addition, 10 of the 14 grantees include questions on fringe benefits, and several include questions about job­related training, as shown in Figure A-1.

Figure A-1. Employment and Earnings.

 

Case closures and recidivism

Many (9 of 14) grantees ask questions about reasons for case closure and most also ask about reasons for return to TANF (Figure A-2).

Figure A-2. Case Closures and Recidivism.

 

Other income supports

All grantees proposed questions about financial assistance from family members, with 13 of 14 also asking specifically about child support.  As shown in Figure A-3, many grantees also include questions about income from food stamps, SSI, housing assistance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Figure A-3. Other Income Supports.

 

Health Insurance

Most grantees also include questions about Medicaid and employer­provided health insurance on their surveys (see Figure A-4).  Ten of the fourteen grantees plan to include specific questions about health insurance coverage for children, and two include specific questions about use of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Figure A-4. Health Insurance.

 

Child Care

Most (12) of the grantees proposed including survey questions about the child care used by families after they leave welfare.  Typical questions focus on the type of provider used, child care costs, and the parents’ awareness and use of subsidies.  Half (7) of the grantees also ask parents about their perceptions of child care quality (see Figure A-5).

Figure A-5. Child Care.

 

Child Well-Being

Most grantees proposed including some type of survey questions about children’s living arrangements and/or interactions with the child welfare system.  Nine grantees also plan to examine some measure of child health status (typically through a survey question), seven grantees plan to ask questions about children’s school attendance, and five grantees plan to include questions addressing child behavior, as shown in Figure A-6.

Figure A-6. Child Well-Being.

 

Barriers to Self-Sufficiency

All grantees proposed to examine barriers to self­sufficiency (see Figure A-7).  Primarily through survey questions, grantees will be gathering data about such subjects as disability, maternal depression, substance abuse, illiteracy, domestic violence, and lack of education/skills.  Most include specific questions about barriers related to lack of transportation and lack of child care.

Figure A-7. Barriers to Self-Sufficiency.

 

Deprivation/Insecurity

As shown in Figure A-8, for the most part, grantees are planning to use survey questions to query whether former recipients encounter severe problems in meeting basic needs.  These include issues associated with hunger, access to health care, use of emergency services, and housing problems (homelessness, lack of money to pay rent, or living with relatives).

Figure A-8. Deprivation/Insecurity.

 

Other Research Topics

Half of the grantees are surveying former recipients about their attitudes toward TANF or welfare reform.  Additionally, Figure A-9 shows that five are surveying former recipients about their attitudes toward work.  Many grantees also are including survey questions to probe for recipients’ awareness of transitional child care (TCC) benefits and transitional Medicaid benefits.  Finally, 12 of the 14 grantees are surveying individuals that leave TANF about changes in household compositions after program exit, such as birth of a new child.  Over half explicitly ask about changes in marital status and half ask questions about changes in household residence.

Figure A-9. Other Topics.