Our strategy in the special populations and local service delivery issues area is to examine innovative approaches for delivering services while ensuring accountability. The research in this area is designed not only to improve the effectiveness of assistance and services delivered to communities in general, but also to reach and effectively serve populations who have the greatest difficulty in succeeding in employment and thus may be left behind. Issues related to substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence, as well as research on immigrants, are included in this section. The following new projects and continuation efforts are included in our FY 2001 plan:
With the devolution of responsibility for welfare programs under TANF, many state and local governments have turned to non-profit, and increasingly for-profit, organizations to carry out human services functions that have traditionally been provided by the public sector. As a result, there has been an increase in the prevalence of performance-based contracts, as state and local governments try to maintain accountability while testing the effectiveness of these non-traditional service providers. This project will undertake case studies of state and local governments, selected to ensure geographic diversity, and study of a wide range of TANF-funded services. The contractor will interview both agency administrators and front-line workers to determine the types of services that have been privatized and the performance measures used by government entities in their relationships with private organizations. A series of reports will describe emerging positive trends and problem areas, in both the services delivered and the types of contracts.
The New Immigrant Survey is a large, longitudinal survey of recently arriving immigrants beginning in 2000. INS and NICHD/NIH are the principal funders of the survey. ASPE has contributed to this effort and has also provided input to the planning of the study and the development of the pilot instruments. ASPE's contribution helps ensure that comprehensive and relevant data are collected and analyzed about program utilization and hardship and well-being over time among newly arriving low-income immigrant families in different states. In particular, ASPE's continued support will ensure that the study focuses on what is happening to children in these families under welfare reform.