Performance Improvement 2000. Human Services Policy

01/01/2000

Adolescent Decision Making: Implications for Prevention Programs

Efforts to reduce teen marijuana use, smoking and pregnancy are not new, but they are now being debated in a policy climate characterized by frustration at past attempts to address teen behavior and renewed efforts to take strong actions to reduce these behaviors. The role of decision making processes in these interventions is a topic that has generated a substantial core of new research. This project convened a January workshop and prepared a summary report to: 1)identify the major lessons learned from the last decade of research on adolescent decision making, particularly as they bear on efforts to reduce behavior among adolescents; 2)discuss the results of research on efforts to intervene in adolescent behaviors; and 3)discuss the implications of this research for alternative approaches to reducing behavior among the Nation's youth, particularly in the areas of substance abuse and sexuality. The report covers the following topics: the decision-making framework, the world of adolescence, media influences, programs for adolescents, and issues for youth programs.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Stagner, Matthew
202-690-5653

PIC ID: 6877

PERFORMER: National Academy of Sciences, Board on Children and Families
Washington, DC

Blending Perspectives and Building Common Ground

Many in the child welfare field have recognized for years that substance abuse is central to child welfare issues. But with the implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act and renewed emphasis on achieving permanency for children in the child welfare system, finding effective ways to address concurrent substance abuse and child maltreatment problems in families takes on renewed importance. This report grew out of a request by the Congress for more information to guide Federal policies that would allow child welfare agencies and partners in the substance abuse treatment field to better address the needs of parents whose substance abuse problems rendered them unable to care for their children. This report fulfills the legislative mandate that requested the Department of Health and Human Services to: describe the extent and scope of the problem of substance abuse in the child welfare population; the types of services being provided; the outcomes resulting from the provision of such services; and to include recommendations for any legislation that may be needed to improve coordination in providing such services to such population. The findings and conclusions reached by the report indicate: it is clear that throughout the child welfare system, but especially with respect to children in foster care, alcohol and other drug abuse is recognized as a major contributing factor to child neglect and abuse and as one of the key barriers to family reunification; timely substance abuse services are key to achieving permanency for children; collaboration between child welfare and substance abuse treatment agencies must be improved.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Radel, Laura
202-690-5938

PIC ID: 7100

PERFORMER: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Health Policy
Washington, DC

Enhancing the Well-Being of Young Children and Families in the Context of Welfare Reform: Lessons from Early Childhood, TANF, and Family Support Programs

Roughly two-thirds of the recipients of federally-subsidized cash assistance are children, nearly half of whom are under the age of six. While such children grow up in an environment which puts them at risk, a decade of cumulative research suggests that child development and family support programs can make a difference. This report identifies and presents profiles of promising Federal, State, and/or community-based health and human services programs believed to be enhancing the health and development of children in the context of welfare reform. It seeks to answer three questions: How are child development and family support programs serving low-income families with young children responding to new welfare policies and practices? What kinds of partnerships (e.g., state-local, public-private, interagency) are developing between those serving low-income families with young children and those implementing welfare changes? What opportunities and challenges are emerging for early childhood programs and agencies implementing welfare changes as they strive to improve outcomes for both adults/parents and young children? The report examines case management strategies, child assessment programs, links between pre-kindergarten and child care programs, school-readiness programs, assistance for families who are coping with domestic violence, substance abuse, and other risk factors, and other workings of these programs.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Moorehouse, Martha
202-690-6939

PIC ID: 6754

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Plainsboro, NJ

Estimated Effects of the Optional Review of Child Support Orders for TANF Cases

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 made the review and modification of child support awards for those receiving welfare assistance optional, a change from prior law which required such reviews every three years. Given that States now have a policy choice, this project sought to inform that choice by developing national estimates of the financial effects of not reviewing child support awards for welfare recipient families on State child support collections. This project provided estimates of the financial effects on the Federal and State governments (how such a discontinuance would affect child support offsets to cash assistance payments.) First, the study compared the two policy regimes, estimating government savings from several sources. Then these estimated savings were combined with estimates of the cost of reviewing and modifying orders to get a total net fiscal effect. Finally, the study examined the separate effects on each state and the federal government, factoring in changes in incentive payments. The study pointed out that the effects on governmental revenues are not the only relevant factors to consider in evaluating optional versus mandatory child support award reviews. For example, if mandatory review increases collections but they accrue to the resident parent family rather than the government, the policy may still be advantageous in terms of increasing the well-being of economically vulnerable families.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Mellgren, Linda
202-690-6806

PIC ID: 6749

PERFORMER: Institute for Research on Poverty
Madison WI

Evaluating Welfare Reform: A Framework and Review of Current Work

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 changed the nation's social welfare system by replacing a federal entitlement program for low-income families called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with state-administered block grants, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) asked the National Research Council to convene a panel to study and recommend the best strategies for evaluating the effects of welfare reform programs and the data needs for conducting useful evaluations. The interim report from the panel made the following recommendations that were consistent with HHS's research agenda: (1) DHHS should be proactive in identifying important current and emerging issues for welfare policies at both federal and state levels, a strategy which may, in turn, lead the way to establishing priorities for investment in data and research. (2) DHHS should define the key populations of interest for welfare policy analysis in its research agenda and assure that its grant and contract research programs adequately cover all important population groups for welfare reform. In particular, to consider the effects of changes in welfare policies on the outcomes of low-income populations, it is important to study not only those who leave the system but those who stay as well as potential applicants who are diverted from programs or who do not apply. (3) DHHS should make improving capabilities for data collection and research on social welfare programs on both state and federal levels a priority. (4) DHHS should exercise leadership in working with states, localities, and research organizations to achieve both intra- and inter-state comparability of data and research on the effects of welfare reform. (5) DHHS should document TANF policies in each state and localities.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Hauan, Susan
202-690-8698

PIC ID: 7145.1

PERFORMER: National Academy of Sciences
Washington, DC

Exits from Welfare and Local Entry-Level Labor Markets

The current debate surrounding welfare reform pits those who view long-term welfare participation as a problem of "welfare dependency" resulting from poor work attitudes against those who view it as a problem of "working poverty" with poor, time- constrained single mothers using welfare to supplement low-wage and contingent employment. Presented in this report are estimates of the relative influence of individual characteristics, family structure and local entry-level labor market conditions on welfare durations and transitions into work. Contrary to previous research, the findings suggest that: (1) local labor market conditions are more important than individual and family level factors in predicting exits from welfare; (2) most women on welfare are working before, during and after a welfare spell; and (3) long-term, intermittent welfare participation may be more accurately understood as a problem of "working poverty."

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Kaye, Kelleen
202-401-6634

PIC ID: 6360

PERFORMER: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health
Chapel Hill NC

Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients

This study was undertaken in an effort to assess the impacts of recent policy, organizational, and technology changes on the delivery of employment services to welfare recipients. The study examines five of the most developed and promising One- Stop Job Centers around the country to find out what makes them work well, and to understand their potential for moving people from welfare to self-sufficiency. This study does not provide a formal evaluation of these model programs, but identifies those approaches and practices that seem to be working well in various locations. The report identified three key factors which tend to contribute to the success of the One-Stop Job Center: the degree of integration of services, locating welfare and employment services in the same place, and individualized attention to clients. The centers experienced common problems in such areas as quality and design of data systems as well as such common challenges in reaching the welfare population as substance abuse mental illness. Welfare-to-work programs tended to place a their clients in a fairly limited set of typical occupations, including: certified nurse assistant, clerical support, light manufacturing, sorting and packaging, retail trade, and self employment. Based on limited data that varies from site to site, the employment and wage outcomes reported for a sample of welfare clients referred to a One-Stop center during a given 12-month period hovers between 40 and 50 percent, with wages typically averaging between $5.50 and $6.50 an hour. These jobs were clearly dominated by entry-level work and not sufficient to support a family without continued public assistance.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Kaye, Kelleen
202-401-6634

PIC ID: 7152

PERFORMER: University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy

This practical tool kit for families which want to prevent teen pregnancy is divided into three volumes: Focusing on Kids, Involving the Key Players, and Making It Happen. Volume One, Focusing on Kids, involves the following topics: promising approaches to preventing teen pregnancy, tailoring pregnancy prevention to stages of adolescent development, developing pregnancy prevention programs for girls and young women, involving teen boys and young men in teen pregnancy prevention, and involving youth in teen pregnancy prevention programs. Volume Two, Involving the Key Players, covers the following topics: involving parents and other adults, involving the faith community, involving schools, and involving healthcare professionals. Volume Three, Making it Happen, covers the following topics: getting your community involved in a teen pregnancy prevention project, tailoring a program to your community through needs assessment, planning and carrying out a teen pregnancy prevention project, raising funds for teen pregnancy prevention, working with the media to promote teen pregnancy prevention, building evaluation into your work, and moving forward in the face of conflict.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Chessen, Sonia
202-690-8471

PIC ID: 6725.1

PERFORMER: Urban Institute
Washington, DC

Getting off the Ground: Early Implementation Findings about Child Support Enforcement, Head Start, and Child Care Collaboration Demonstrations

The purpose of this report is to provide early findings on the implementation of five State-initiated demonstrations designed to explore collaborations between child support enforcement, Head Start, and child care programs. The early findings indicate that the demonstration projects are making progress in meeting their goals. Also, the partner's agencies have gained an enhanced understanding and trust, and the knowledge base of Head Start and child care staff about child support services and vice versa, has broadened. The second goal of the project, to increase the access of families to child support services through the cooperation and assistance of child care and Head Start programs is being realized. These demonstration grants have increased the willingness and ability of Head start and child care staffs to collaborate with child support agencies. Some agreement has also been reached toward the third goal of the project--to increase child support staff's understanding about the importance of father's nonfinancial involvement in the lives of their children. An important task remaining for the demonstrations is to find ways that child support staff can assist child care and Head Start staffs in increasing voluntary establishment of paternity and payment of support.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Mellgren, Linda
202-690-6806

PIC ID: 7087

PERFORMER: American Institutes for Research
Washington, DC

Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, October 1998

The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to prepare annual reports to Congress on indicators and predictors of welfare dependence. This Annual Report on Welfare Indicators, October 1998 is the second of these annual reports. Welfare dependence, like poverty, is a continuum, with variations in degree and in duration. The bipartisan Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators proposed the following definition of dependence on welfare: A family is dependent on welfare if more than 50 percent of its total income in a one-year period comes from AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps and/or SSI, and this welfare income is not associated with work activities. Welfare dependence is the proportion of all families who are dependent on welfare. This report includes a number of indicators addressing welfare recipients, dependence, and labor force attachment. Selected findings include the following: In 1994, the more recent year for which SIPP data are available, 5.6 percent of the total population were dependent. This is approximately the same rate as the previous two years; long-term dependence is relatively rare. Only 4 percent of those who were recipients in 1982, or less than 1 percent of the total population, received more than 50 percent of their income from AFDC and Food Stamps in 9 or 20 years over the next decade; in 1994, 46 percent of AFDC recipients, 38 percent of SSI recipients and 57 percent of Food Stamp recipients were in families with at least one person in the labor force; and individuals who receive AFDC or Food Stamps as children are more likely to receive benefits as adults.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Isaacs, Julia
202-690-6805

PIC ID: 7281.2

PERFORMER: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Health Policy
Washington, DC

Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs

The past 30 years have seen widespread proliferation of prevention and positive youth development programs. During this time, prevention programs have been the subject of much evaluative study. More recently, the field has witnessed a greater focus on evaluation of programs emphasizing positive youth development. Interest in positive youth development has grown as a result of studies that show the same individual, family, school and community factors often predict both positive and negative outcomes for youth. Such factors as developing strong bonds with healthy adults and maintaining regular involvement in positive activities not only create a positive developmental pathway, but can prevent the occurrence of problems. While encouraging, these findings highlight the need for systematic review across programs to further their general acceptance by the field. Accordingly, the goals of this study were to: (1) research and establish both theoretical and empirical definitions of positive youth development and related concepts; (2) document and describe common denominators between risk and protective factors implicated in youth problem behavior; (3) identify and summarize the results of evaluations of positive youth development interventions; and (4) identify elements contributing to both the success and lack of success in positive youth development programs and program evaluations, as well as potential improvements in evaluation approaches.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Chessen, Sonia
202-690-8471

PIC ID: 6878

PERFORMER: University of Washington, Social Development Research Group
Seattle, WA

Post-Exit Earnings and Benefit Receipt Among Those Who Left AFDC in Wisconsin

From July 1995 to July 1996, single-parent Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) caseloads in Wisconsin declined sharply, by 23 percent. This is the third and final report in a series that explores the characteristics of those mother- headed families who left AFDC after July 1995 ("leavers"), compared to those who remained ("stayers"), and examines how they fared during the 15 months after they left the Wisconsin AFDC program. Specifically, this study asks: (1) What proportion of leavers returned to AFDC, and what characteristics are most closely associated with that return? (2) Did AFDC leavers and their families have incomes greater than (a) the maximum benefits they would have received under AFDC or (b) their incomes immediately before leaving AFDC? (3) Did leavers and their families escape poverty after leaving AFDC? (4) How much did leavers use other public assistance programs, and what household characteristics most affected the likelihood that they would do so? (5) To what extent did leavers work and earn after they left AFDC, and how did these trends compare to the work and earning patterns of the stayers? (6) Did the earnings of the leavers grow over time, and, if so, to what extent? (7) What family and economic characteristics among leavers were most closely related to the probability of working at all, and of obtaining relatively high earnings? and (8) What kinds of jobs did leavers find, and which jobs seemed to offer the highest wages?

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Hauan, Susan
202-690-8698

PIC ID: 6727

PERFORMER: Institute for Research on Poverty
Madison WI

State Child Access and Visitation Programs: A Preliminary Report for Fiscal Year 1997 Funding

This report presents preliminary findings for 131 local projects in 28 States and two Territorities receiving funding for Child Access and Visitation Grants under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Nearly 20,000 individuals were served during the first year of this new grant program, and this figure is expected to rise, significantly, when all States report. Wide discretion is permitted in States' determination of the activities to fund at the local level. Most States and their local projects report providing a mix of services. There are services provided with respect to urban, suburban, and rural locations and administration by state and county agencies, courts, and non-profit organizations. There is also a balance regarding the racial and ethnic mix and marital status--divorced, separated, never-married-- of the population served. Most individuals received parenting education, assistance in developing parenting plans, and mediation services, and the majority of individuals referred completed their program activities.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Mellgren, Linda
202-690-6806

PIC ID: 7337

PERFORMER: American Institutes for Research
Washington, DC

State Financing of Child Support Enforcement Programs: Final Report

The primary goal of the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program is to ensure that children are supported financially by both parents. This program is a shared undertaking involving Federal, State, and local efforts. The subject of this report is how states finance their share of the cost of program activities. The following questions are addressed: (1) what are the various sources of funding for the State and local share of Title IV-D expenditures, and what share of expenditures does each source represent? (2) how is the State share of retained Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program collections allocated at the State and local level? (3) how are Federal incentive payments allocated at the State and local level? Information was collected through telephone contacts with State IV-D Directors and/or IV-D fiscal staff in every state. The results show that: (1) most programs utilize at least three different funding sources to finance the State and local share of CSE expenditures; (2) State and local CSE financing structures are diverse and their funding sources are mixed in a variety of ways.

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Mellgren, Linda
202-690-6806

PIC ID: 7249

PERFORMER: The Lewin Group
Falls Church, VA

Synthesis of Research on Family Preservation and Family Reunification Programs

This report examines research about the outcomes of family preservation and family reunification programs, about relationships between service characteristics and outcomes, and the response of subgroups of clients to services. The report finds that: (1) little evidence exists to show that these programs have their intended effects; (2) problems with study construction and sampling issues contribute to a general lack of information about the effects of these programs in preserving or reunifying families, on preventing maltreatment, and on foster care placements; (3) in general, a review of research suggests that family preservation programs have very modest effects on family and child functioning; (4) evaluations of family reunifications are in a nascent stage, and require further elaboration of goals and expected outcomes of the programs; (5) evaluations must use the most rigorous methods whenever possible (i.e., randomized experimental designs) because early uncontrolled studies yielding misleading findings; and (6) more research must be done on the differential impact of these programs on various subgroupings of families. Furthermore, the report finds that outcomes other than placement should be used to detect potential benefits of these programs, and that more attention should be placed on contextual factors affecting outcomes, including community characteristics and the availability of community services. See also PIC ID Nos. 5337 and 5337.2. (Interim report 76 pages.)

AGENCY SPONSOR: Office of Human Services Policy

FEDERAL CONTACT: Stagner, Matthew
202-690-5653

PIC ID: 5337.1

PERFORMER: Westat, Inc.
Rockville, MD