Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2001. Children and Youth


Our strategy in the children and youth area focuses on early childhood, youth, and children's services systems. Policy areas of interest include improving our understanding of early childhood education, promotion of youth development and prevention of teen risk behaviors, and the examination of child protection and child welfare service systems. The following new projects and continuation efforts are included in our FY 2001 plan:

Improving State Child and Youth Indicators of Health and Well-being

As a complement to work on national indicators, ASPE sponsored an initiative to assist 14 states in developing and monitoring indicators of the health and well-being of children and youth as changes occur in welfare and other key policy areas. The 14 states are interested in additional opportunities to advance their work, particularly in the area of youth indicators. Other states are interested in learning from the progress of the 14 states. There are several national research initiatives which have been focusing on improving youth outcomes measures in population-based surveys and for program evaluation purposes. This project will bring these various efforts together. It will develop a summary of the state indicator initiative, create an inventory of the major national and state efforts to improve youth measures, design a meeting that will enable new states to learn from the indicator states, and identify the best opportunities for HHS to assist states in the future.

Welfare Reform and Children

The vast majority of TANF recipients are children. In 1999, over 5 million children received TANF assistance while approximately 2 million of their parents did. One third of all TANF cases are "child-only," wherein assistance goes only to children. The federal government spends $16 billion a year on TANF, more than on the traditional "children's programs" of Head Start, child care and all child welfare programs combined. However, while some experimental studies of welfare to work programs have measured outcomes for children, broader discussions of welfare policies and changes are rarely framed around issues for children. As we approach the reauthorization of TANF, the question of how children are affected by welfare policies is one of the most critical issues for policymakers to address. This project would result in an issue paper about the implications of changes in a broad range of welfare-related policies, including TANF and child support, for children of various ages and the systems that serve them. The paper will review the range of issues relevant to children and welfare reform, summarize evidence, and identify data gaps and important questions for policymakers and researchers to consider.

Project on Child Outcomes: Enhancing Measurement of Child Outcomes in State Welfare Evaluations and Other State Data Collections

With other federal and private funders, ASPE and ACF are working with states to improve measurement of child health and well-being outcomes in state welfare evaluations. Continuation funding will be provided for states to receive research technical assistance on collecting survey data using the common core of instruments, using administrative data sources, and developing and coordinating data analysis and reporting strategies. A focus of this year's work will be the production of a synthesis of the findings from three of the states. The research technical assistance is provided by the NICHD Research Network on Family and Child Well-Being and conducted by Child Trends.