Performance Improvement 2003. Office of Human Services Policy


13 Indicators of Quality Child Care: Research Update

This research brief highlighted the latest research studies related to the 13 indicators that have been completed since the publication of the “National Health and Safety Standards” in 1992. In some cases, research going back further than the last decade was used because of the classic nature of the studies and their significance to the 13 key indicators. The 13 indicators are: child abuse reporting and clearances, proper immunizations, staff: child ratio and group size, director and teacher qualifications, staff training, supervision/discipline, fire drills, administration of medication, emergency contact/plan, outdoor playground safety, inaccessibility of toxic substances, and hand washing/diapering. This review incorporated the latest research into an empirically demonstrated list of key regulatory indicators that statistically predicted positive outcomes for young children. This review offered the reader substantial evidence regarding the critical importance of these key indicators. The research literature over the past 20 years has demonstrated that these indicators do two things: statistically predict compliance with regulations in some states, and, demonstrate a relationship between compliance with these indicators and positive outcomes for young children. These key indicators supported and embraced the research literature related to child care quality.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Colleen Rathgeb 202-690-5937 PIC ID: 7804

PERFORMER: University of Colorado, Denver, CO


Understanding the Costs of the DOL Welfare-to-Work Grants Program

This report examined the costs of selected Welfare-to-Work (WtW) programs that operated with federal grant support. The main objectives of the WtW cost analysis were to understand the cost structure of these programs and factors that influenced their costs. The WtW grants program was one of several major federally funded initiatives to help welfare recipients and other low-income parents get jobs. In 1997, the Balanced Budget Act authorized the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to award $3 billion in  WtW grants to states and local organizations. These grants were intended to help the hardest-to-employ recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and non-custodial parents, prepare for, find, keep, and advance in employment. It was found that WtW costs per participant reflected differences in program design. Also, on average, WtW programs cost more than WIN, less than Supported Work, and about the same as JOBS programs. And finally, future efforts could cost as much as, or more than, the current WtW program has. The WtW process and cost analyses leave considerable uncertainty about how more emphasis on basic or occupational training would affect costs. Integrating education and training into structured services could increase participation and costs of programs that target hard-to-employ individuals. However, to the extent that new policies require participants to pursue education and training activities concurrent with employment, participation and costs may continue to be limited (as it has been in WtW programs).

FEDERAL CONTACT: Alana Landey, 202-401-6636 PIC ID: 7868

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ


America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2002

This study, developed by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, is the sixth annual synthesis of information on the status of the Nation’s most valuable resource, our children. This      report presented key indicators of the well-being of children. These indicators were monitored through official Federal statistics covering children’s economic security, health, behavior and social environment, and education. The report presented data on eight key contextual measures and included a special feature showing children of at least one foreign-born parent. The 20 agencies of the Forum introduced improvements in the measurement of several of the indicators presented the year before. The report provided a broad annual summary of national indicators of child well-being and monitored changes in these indicators over time. According to the report, the infant mortality rate decreased since 1983. As in previous years, the report showed that most children are in very good or excellent health. However, children living in poverty were less likely than children in higher-income families to be in very good or excellent health. Nevertheless, the gap in health status by income narrowed over the past few years. The adolescent birth rate also declined. As a result of language and cultural barriers confronting children and their parents, children with foreign-born parents may need additional resources at school and at home to successfully progress in school and transition to adulthood. There is still more work to be done, but the chances of the poorest children have been improved and they can share in the advances in health.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Martha Moorehouse, 202-690-6939 PIC ID: 7297

PERFORMER: Westat, Inc., Rockville, MD


Assessing the Family Circumstances of TANF Applicants and Leavers in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties

Limited information existed about the well-being of families affected by welfare reform. To add to our knowledge in this area, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, in California, initiated a study to describe the circumstances of three groups of families: (1) Leavers--families leaving CalWORKs (California’s Welfare Reform Program) and remaining off aid at least two consecutive months, (2) Informally Diverted--families applying for but denied CalWORKs assistance for non-financial reasons and not receiving CalWORKs for at least two months following the denial, and (3) Transition to Child Only--families transitioning from a CalWORKs case with aided adults and children, to one with aided children only. Conditions are improving for leavers and the informally diverted. Leavers were doing much better than the transition to child-only cases. Even though median income was well above poverty, some leavers and informally diverted families were very poor, and most of these families were not receiving CalWORKs. The finding that a very high proportion of child-only status families had been long-term aid recipients prior to the point of transition could be useful in efforts to identify CalWORKs families at risk of being sanctioned for purposes of developing preventive policies, such as targeted home-visiting programs designed to uncover and   address non-compliance factors.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Julie Isaacs, 202-690-6805 PIC ID: 7777

PERFORMER: Sphere Institute, Burlingame, CA


Disaggregating the TANF Child-Only Caseload in Three States

The purpose of this study was to provide more detailed information about the make-up and trends of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) child-only population in three States. This study used administrative data, case file reviews, and interviews with program and policy staff. Child-only cases were those in which benefits are paid only on behalf of minor children, and there were no adults in the household receiving assistance. In some cases the children lived with adults other than their parents: in such cases, the caretaker received assistance on behalf of the child, but not for himself/herself. In other cases, a parent was in the household but was ineligible for benefits for one of several reasons, including: (1) receipt of SSI, (2) unqualified alien status, or (3) imposed sanctions. The letter cases make up 21 percent of the TANF caseload, a proportion that has grown significantly in recent years.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Laura Radel, 202-690-5938 PIC ID: 7188

PERFORMER: The Lewin Group, Fairfax, VA


Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE’s “Leavers” Grants

The synthesis of fifteen studies provided in this report included information on welfare leavers’ employment and earnings, public assistance program participation, income and poverty status, material hardships, and child well-being. The studies showed many differences in specific measures of families’ post-TANF experiences, reflecting in part the differences in context across these areas, such as welfare policies, economic conditions, and the characteristics of leavers. Despite these differences, a number of clear general patterns emerged. Employment and Earnings: A little more than a third held jobs in all four quarters after exiting TANF. No single barrier to work consistently affected a majority of leavers; however, a substantial minority of leavers must have overcome childcare and health-related problems in order to work. Program Participation: A quarter to a third of families who left welfare returned to TANF at some point in the first year after exit. Household Income: Average monthly family income for leavers generally hovered near the poverty line. In the four studies that explicitly examined poverty rates of leaver families, on average, over half of leavers were poor. Child Well-Being: One-tenth to one-quarter of leaver families have children without health insurance. For childcare, a substantial percentage of leaver families relied on parental care. The fifteen ASPE-funded leaver studies reviewed here provided a considerable amount of information on the status of families leaving welfare. This synthesis focuses on key outcomes and measures of well-being that are commonly reported in these studies. In addition to these common elements, the individual studies also contain a rich array of information and subgroup analyses pertinent to understanding the status of former welfare recipients in their respective geographic areas.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Julia Isaacs, 202-690-7882

PIC ID: 7368

PERFORMER: Urban Institute, Washington, DC


How are Immigrants Faring After Welfare Reform? Preliminary Evidence from Los Angeles and New York City

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) enacted in 1996, the  eligibility of legally-admitted immigrants for means-tested federal benefits significantly limited, particularly for immigrants entering the United States after the law was passed. Findings from a survey of immigrants in Los Angeles County and New York City (NYC) that yield new insights about the status of immigrants and eligibility. The report summarized data from a survey of 3,447 immigrant families. The survey was conducted in late 1999 and early 2000 by the Survey Research Center of the University of California at  Los Angeles. The survey described the living conditions of about 4.8 million people in Los Angeles County and 3.5 million people in New York City who lived in immigrant families. The study found that many immigrants in LA County and NYC, particularly those who were not citizens, lived in families experiencing economic hardship. The hardship measures examined included poverty, food insecurity, moderate  hunger, housing problems, and lack of health insurance. When compared with native citizen families, the immigrant families in the survey had consistently lower incomes and higher hardship levels, despite relatively high employment rates. About 80 percent of the children in these immigrant families were native-born citizens, and they shared economic hardship with their immigrant parents and non-native born siblings. The findings showed reduced benefit use and substantial levels of need among immigrant families in program areas directly affected by welfare reforms’ immigrant eligibility restrictions.

FEDERAL CONTACT: David Nielsen, 260-615-2612 PIC ID: 6747

PERFORMER: Urban Institute, Washington, DC


Low-Income and Low-Skilled Workers’ Involvement in Nonstandard Employment

The role of alternative work arrangements--temporary help, independent contractors, on-call workers, and contract company workers--has caught the attention of policy makers and academic researchers. Current research indicates that 1 in 10 workers are employed in one of these four alternative work arrangements and employment in the temporary help services industry grew five times as fast as non- farm employment between 1972 and 1997. This growth is likely to have important implications for low- income workers, since the establishment of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, authorized by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, which dramatically transformed the nation’s welfare system. This welfare reform resulted in an increasing number of low-income individuals entering the labor force. Thus, alternative work arrangements, especially for those with limited work histories, might be expected to be a natural pathway to work for such workers. Findings from the final report include: (1) workers who were at risk of welfare dependency were more than twice as likely to be in alternative work arrangements as other workers; (2) the number of industries utilizing temporary workers has increased, particularly among industries where the median education level of temporary workers is very high--suggesting that low-skilled workers would be increasingly less able to compete for these jobs; (3) at-risk workers fared worse in nonstandard jobs than did other workers in such arrangements across a variety of dimensions (wages, incidence of part- time jobs, job duration, and employer-provided benefits). FEDERAL CONTACT: Alana Landey, 202-401-6636 PIC ID: 7367

PERFORMER: Urban Institute, Washington, DC


Moving People from Welfare to Work: Lessons from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies

How to increase employment among welfare recipients has long been debated. Over the past three decades, federal and state policymakers have created a variety of programs with the common goal of moving people from welfare to work By laying out the lessons learned from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS), this research synthesis provided answers to critical questions in the welfare-to-work policy discussion. NEWWS examined the long-term effects on welfare recipients and their children of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs, operated in seven sites, that took different approaches to helping welfare recipients find jobs, advance in the labor market, and leave public assistance. A central question of the evaluation was: “What program strategies work best, and for whom?” Under study were two primary pre-employment approaches--one that emphasized short-term job search assistance and encouraged people to find jobs quickly and one that emphasized longer-term skill-building activities (primarily basic education) before entering the labor market--and a third approach that mixed elements of the other two. The findings from NEWWS provided compelling evidence that these programs succeeded in achieving many program goals. All the programs increased people’s employment and earnings and decreased their receipt of welfare, thus resulting in gains in people’s self- sufficiency. Notably, mothers who were single parents achieved these benefits with few indications of either harm or benefit of their children’s well-being. However, none of the programs met the implicit goal of making people materially better off. The lessons from NEWWS remain highly relevant in the current welfare reform environment and beyond.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Audrey Mirsky-Ashby, 202-401-6640 PIC ID: 7089.11

PERFORMER: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, New York, NY


National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients: Supplemental Analysis

The National Survey of Homeless Providers and Clients conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of 12 sponsoring federal agencies, was designed to provide data to support policy development and  research initiatives. During the survey, the Census Bureau drew a representative sample of all known providers of services for the homeless in the United States. It randomly selected clients from that sample: more than 4,000 clients of the selected service providers were interviewed. That sample of clients supported analyses of subgroups of interest to the sponsoring agencies (e.g., clients living with mental health problems). The findings and methods of the initial study were described in the technical report “Homeless Programs and the People They Serve.” The study’s rich data had limitations. Nevertheless, the data allowed analysts to estimate problem prevalence among a broad population of homeless people. Analysts can also use client reports of current symptoms to identify factors associated with problems among homeless individuals.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Anne Fletcher, 202-690-5739 PIC ID: 7849.1

PERFORMER: Westat, Inc., Rockville, MD


State Policies to Promote Marriage

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) stated four broad goals for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for at home or in the homes of relatives; (2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; (3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two- parent families. As TANF was reauthorized in 2002, an important topic was whether the program was meeting its goals. States have passed laws or proposed legislation in every area studied for this project. Some states had activities in multiple areas. It was found that it was important that state officials publicly focus on marriage-related issues through statewide campaigns, commissions, and proclamations. Nine states have undertaken an activity in this area. State campaigns included media projects that extolled the virtue of marriage and larger-scale initiatives, such as a statewide effort to curb divorce rates. Commissions included “summits” that brought together diverse groups to discuss marriage-strengthening policies and commissions charged with implementing specific policies. Finally, issuing proclamations recognizing the importance of marriage and reaffirming marriage’s special status as the foundation for healthy families promoted marriage.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Kelleen Kaye, 202-401-6634 PIC ID: 7756

PERFORMER: Lewin Group Fairfax, VA and The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD


Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted in 1996. The Panel on Data and Methods for Measuring the Effects of Changes in Social Welfare Programs of the National Research Council was formed in 1998 to review the evaluation methods and data that are needed to study the effects of welfare reform. The panel realized that the database for conducting studies of welfare reform had many deficiencies and required attention by policy makers and research analysts. The final report concluded that welfare reform evaluation imposed significant demands on the data infrastructure for welfare and low-income populations and that inadequacies in the nation’s data infrastructure for social welfare program study constituted the major barrier to good monitoring and evaluation of the effects of reform. The panel concluded that national-level surveys were being put under great strain for PRWORA research given their small sample sizes, limited welfare policy-related content, and, often, high rates of non-response. The panel concluded that major new investments are needed in the data infrastructure for analysis of welfare and low-income populations.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Susan Hagan, 202-690-8698 PIC ID: 7145.2

PERFORMER: National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC


The 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients: A Comparison of Faith-Based and Secular Non-Profit Programs

This study examined data from National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC) to determine more thoroughly the role that faith-based programs played in the larger context of   homeless assistance. The study had an explicit focus on comparing homeless assistance programs administered by faith-based versus secular non-profit service agencies. One of the most dramatic findings to have emerged from the 1996 NSHAPC was the tremendous growth in the number and variety of homeless assistance programs during the late 1980s and early 1990s. While much of this growth was fueled by new investments of public funds, most faith-based non-profits operated with little or no government funding, yet they played a critical role in helping homeless people. The study provided a  basic but comprehensive picture of the numbers and characteristics of the two types of homeless assistance programs. NSHAPC documented just fewer than 40,000 homeless assistance programs operating on an average day in February 1996. Faith-based non-profits ran about a third of these programs, including the majority of all food programs and one-quarter of all shelters and drop-in centers. Faith-based providers served a more diverse group of clients than did secular non-profits. The proportion of programs serving each client group--single men, single women, females with children, other households with children, and youth--was higher among faith-based programs than it was among secular non-profits. Over all programs, faith-based providers were much less likely to have a special focus than were secular providers. Several factors may have accounted for this, including differences in the types of programs run by faith-based versus secular non-profits, as well as the types and diversity of their clients. The NSHAPC data analyzed here provided yet more evidence of the continuing importance of faith-based organizations in serving people who were homeless or on the brink of homelessness.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Brenda Benesch, 202-260-0382 PIC ID: 7849

PERFORMER: Urban Institute, Washington, DC


The Evaluation of Abstinence Education Programs Funded Under Title V Section 510: Interim Report

This report presented interim findings from an independent, federally funded evaluation of the abstinence education programs authorized under PRWORA and defined under Title V, Section 510 (b)(2)(A-H) of the Social Security Act. This report drew most heavily on four years of implementation experiences in a selected group of abstinence education programs. Later reports from the evaluation presented estimates of short- and long-term program impacts, as well as studies on special topic areas. The methodology consisted of an implementation and process analysis which used program documents, program observations, focus groups with program participants and parents, and interviews with program staff and community leaders. The impact analysis used longitudinal survey data for groups of youth randomly assigned to program and control groups. Enrollment in the impact evaluation study samples spanned three school years and was completed in fall of 2001. Early lessons indicated that: (1) abstinence funds were changing the local landscape of approaches to teenage pregnancy prevention and youth risk avoidance, (2) most abstinence education programs offered more than a single message of abstinence, (3) most participants reported favorable feelings about their program experience, (4) abstinence education programs faced real challenges addressing peer pressure and the communication gulf between parents and children, and (5) local schools were valuable program partners, but establishing these partnerships was sometimes difficult.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Meredith Kelsey, 202-690-6652

PIC ID: 7491

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Plainsboro, NJ


The Evaluation of the Tribal Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Initial Implementation Findings

Over the past 20 years, the federal government has increasingly supported tribal self-governance and self-determination. Indian tribes and tribal consortia have been explicitly included in federal welfare reform initiatives such as TANF, the Child Care Development Fund, WtW, and NEW. Congress and federal agencies administering these programs have supported Indian self-determination and tribal consultation in formulating legislative provisions and in developing policies and regulations. Legislation and regulations permit tribes to operate programs and, in recognition of their special circumstances, allow some degree  of flexibility in program operation. The challenge of ending welfare is nowhere more daunting in the United States than on Indian reservations and in Alaska Native villages. While the circumstances of each tribe are unique, most tribes face economic, education, housing, health, and other problems at levels of severity rarely seen in most other American communities. The experiences of the 10 tribal grantees included in this study highlight the challenges commonly faced in Indian country and suggest some of the following lessons: (1) improving coordination with other programs, especially TANF, is critical to successful program implementation, (2) states can be an important source of support and technical assistance, and (3) cooperation with states can strengthen child support enforcement and fatherhood initiatives.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Alana Landey, 202-401-6636

PIC ID: 7785

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ


The Implementation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program

This report presented findings from the process and implementation analysis part of the evaluation of implementation of the Welfare-to-Work grants program, and described the service delivery operations of programs funded with Welfare-to-Work grants in eleven study sites. This report was based on information collected through two rounds of site visits in 1999 and 2001, and management information system data maintained by the programs on participants and services. The $3 billion Welfare-to-Work (WtW) grants program established by Congress as part of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 provided funds to over 700 state and local grantees. Congress appropriated funds for FY1998 and FY1999, and grantees were allowed five years to spend their grant funds. The intent of the grants program, administered at the national level by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), was to supplement the welfare reform funds included in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to states, which were authorized under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. WtW funds were intended to support programs, especially in high-poverty communities, to assist the least employable, most disadvantaged welfare recipients and non-custodial parents (Naps) make the transition from welfare to work. This part of the multi-year evaluation found that three general program models for delivering services to the hard-to-employ were implemented in programs in the study sites. WtW grantees focused on the most disadvantaged, as specified in congressionally established provisions, but most programs have faced difficulties enrolling eligible individuals. Also, WtW programs went beyond job readiness and self-directed job search assistance in the sense that they provided intensive individualized case management, coaching or support; and many programs also included more intensive developmental components and activities.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Alana Landey, 202-401-6636 PIC ID: 7868.1

PERFORMER: Mathematica Policy Research & Urban Institute, Washington, DC

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