Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2002. Analytic Projects on Welfare-Related Topics


Transition Events in the Dynamics of Poverty (2000)

This project is studying the events associated with people entering and exiting poverty. The project will document the likelihood of entering and exiting poverty for various groups, as well as the extent to which various transition events or combinations of events account for entries and exits from poverty. This project also will examine whether poverty rates are declining because fewer people are entering poverty or because more people are exiting poverty. The product will be a report based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) that analyzes the events that increase individuals' likelihood of entering and exiting poverty, and the dynamics behind changes in the poverty rate over time.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Quick Turnaround Analyses under Welfare Reform (2000)

The TANF program must be reauthorized before the end of Fiscal Year 2002, as must the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the Food Stamp Program, and several other programs. We anticipated that, as in the period before enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), ASPE would be called upon to contribute to the reauthorization discussions by providing analyses of policy issues and options, especially those affecting low-income children and families. Under this project, ASPE awarded a task order contract to the Urban Institute to have the Institute perform very quick analyses of existing data sets, such as the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), data from the Urban Institute's National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), administrative data on the TANF program, state policy data, and others. Data analyses could provide information about the characteristics of children and families across a wide range of policy relevant topics, including transitions to employment, child and family well-being, child poverty, interactions with food stamps, Medicaid/SCHIP and SSI, the impact of state policy changes made as a result of the flexibility of the TANF law, or other questions identified during the reauthorization process. Each question would be expected to result in a deliverable of a memorandum with detailed tables.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2002

Implementation of Welfare Reform at the Local Level: Implications for Special Populations (2000)

With the implementation of welfare reform, state and local agencies have established a variety of rules and procedures governing enrollment in TANF and Medicaid. As authority for welfare policy has devolved to state and, oftentimes, local levels, local agencies and caseworkers may have more discretion over how individual cases are handled. This study is examining the implications for special populations, particularly individuals of different backgrounds and limited English language abilities. The results of this project will provide additional information about the effects of program policy and implementation at different levels on program utilization by these special populations. The project consists of detailed case studies that examine agency policies and practices, as well as caseworker training and discretion, in six metropolitan areas, which are in the process of being identified.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Understanding the Declines in Teen Birth Rate (2000)

PRWORA describes several outcomes of concern related to teen pregnancy, including an increased likelihood of dependence on public assistance, and reducing teen pregnancy is viewed as an important aspect of promoting self-sufficiency and family well-being within the context of welfare reform. Yet, as teen birth rates have fallen at an unprecedented rate since 1991, there is a debate regarding factors that have contributed to this decline. This project will use data from the National Survey of Family Growth to describe data on sexual activity, partner characteristics, and contraceptive use for women surveyed in 1995 who were teens at any time during the study period. This data will be used to create simulation models that may clarify which factors are associated with changes in teen pregnancy and births and how possible future changes in these factors might affect teen pregnancy and birth rates. Using monthly event history data, the study will observe trends in behavior between 1991 and 1995. Trend information will be presented for multiple population subgroups, including by race/ethnicity, age, and parity (whether or not they had a prior teen birth). Estimates based on event history data are being created. Work is beginning on setting up a base model to assess factors associated with a continued decline in the teen birth rate.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2002

From Prisons to Home: The Effect of Incarceration on Children, Families, and Low-Income Communities (2000)

A majority of incarcerated men and women are parents, and the impact of incarceration appears to be greatest in poor, minority, urban communities. The toll on children, families, and communities of this incarceration and return of inmates has begun to be recognized, together with the growing realization that families served by TANF and other Department of Health and Human Services programs are families who also are more likely to experience the effects of incarceration. The prison to home project commissioned 11 papers which were presented at a policy conference in January 2002. About 300 representatives from the criminal justice, health, and human services fields attended, including federal officials, state officials, program operators and researchers. Among the important preliminary findings was that the highest concentration of populations on TANF are living in neighborhoods where incarceration rates also are the highest. This is particularly true in neighborhoods with large numbers of children (in one such community, 54 percent of the children were receiving public assistance). The papers from the conference will be posted on the ASPE website when available. A final report on the project is expected in Summer 2002.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Learning from State Corrections and Human Services Collaborations: From Prison to Home - Part II (2001)

As part of ASPE's work examining how families and children are affected by the high rates of incarceration in some low-income communities, a symposium was held in November 2001, bringing together the collaborating agency heads and other key stakeholders from selected sites. This symposium provided essential information about the issues for and choices made by states as they implement cross-cutting strategies that involve criminal justice, welfare and health systems. Many of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals and their families are current or former welfare recipients. Key areas explored at the symposium included resource needs, identification of barriers, partnership building, and implementation lessons. National organizations, such as the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures, and other federal and private sector representatives also attended the symposium. Information from the symposium was used to plan and implement the January 2002 ASPE policy conference "From Prison to Home," and will be incorporated into the final report on that conference (see above).

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Poor Families with Infants and Toddlers (2000)

The purpose of this project, co-sponsored by ASPE and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is to identify and provide information about promising federal, state and community-based strategies which are believed to be useful in promoting the overall well-being of infants and toddlers and their families. The focus is on poor families and post-PRWORA changes in policies and programs. The highlighted strategies have been grouped into the four core areas of family life on which the project is focused - economic security, basic supports, nurturing relationships, and special supports for vulnerable children and families. Many strategies touch on more than one core area. Representatives of the strategies met in a workshop in March 2002 with government staff at various levels to share information. The resulting product will be a sourcebook of profiles of programs/initiatives targeted toward poor infants and toddlers and their families. Information about the profiled strategies will be presented in a user-friendly way in order to be valuable to a broad audience. The sourcebook will be made available through ASPE's website.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Enhancement of the Study of Trends in Emergency Assistance Related to TANF (2000) (incorporates Trends in the Demand for Assistance Services, 1999)

The 1999 funded project, Trends in the Demand for Assistance Services, jointly funded with the Office of Program Systems (PS) within ASPE, examined the trends in the demand for emergency assistance services, such as homeless shelters and food banks, from the mid-1990's to 2000. One study, Welfare Reform and Emergency Service Use in Communities with Rapidly Declining Caseloads, was conducted by the SPHERE Institute in San Mateo County, California. The second study, Trends in Demand for Emergency Services in Massachusetts Post Welfare Reform, 1995-2000, was conducted by the University of Massachusetts and focused on the entire state. The studies found both parallels and differences in the patterns of emergency assistance. Among the parallels were a substantial decline in the welfare rolls, substantial increases in the cost of affordable housing, increased use of emergency rental assistance by poor families, and increases in the use of shared living space among families that used emergency food assistance.

Differences in findings between the two grants also were noted. In the California study, welfare reform did not appear to be associated with significant increases in the number of residents relying on food assistance or emergency shelter. Food assistance appeared to show declines during the study period, particularly among homeless recipients. Between 1994 and 1998, the overall number of homeless persons was unchanged, but the single homeless adults increased while homeless children decreased.

In the Massachusetts study, while more parents were working, the researchers believe that poor families were poorer (earnings increases did not offset drops in TANF and food stamp benefits). The researchers found increased use of emergency shelter and food assistance programs by poor families during the study period. The researchers noted housing affordability problems - defined as the loss of affordable housing stock, a tripling in the turn-back of Section 8 vouchers, and rent increases - as significant contributors to the increased demands for emergency assistance.

To add more locations to this analysis, the Office of Program Systems funded an Intra-Agency Agreement with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) during FY 2000. SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services added funding to the Agreement. SAMHSA awarded a contract to the Gallup Organization that added Spokane, Washington and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the analysis. The sites used time frames and emergency assistance programs that were consistent with the above grants. The contract was being jointly monitored by ASPE and SAMHSA. The Gallup Organization has submitted a draft final report that is undergoing program review. A Summer 2002 release of the findings from the four sites is anticipated.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Welfare Reform and Its Implications for Persons with Disabilities (1998)

This project is a supplement to an ongoing four-year study of the implications of welfare reform for low-income families living in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio (a summary of the study is available at <>). The broader study is being undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and the University of Texas-Austin. Funds are being used to explore how welfare reform is affecting the lives of a particularly vulnerable subset of the welfare population - adults and children with disabilities. This will be accomplished by conducting longitudinal case studies of families with members with disabilities receiving TANF and through a broader survey effort. The purpose of the data collection efforts is to better understand how recent work participation requirements and time limits under welfare reform are affecting service utilization, family member's health and development, support networks, parenting, and child care arrangements.

ASPE and the Administration for Children and Families are the primary funders of the disability component of the study. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is the primary funder of the broader study, along with several private foundations. Andrew Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University, is the principal investigator. The first round of interviews for the main survey were conducted from March 1999 until December 1999. Fieldwork in the ethnography component began in fall 1999 and is ongoing. Results from the project will be available over the course of the study. Listed below are the current publications from the broader study; results from the ethnographies focused on disability will be available later.

Accomplishments to date:

  • The Characteristics of Families Remaining on Welfare, March 2002 - Policy Brief 02-2
  • The Characteristics of Families Remaining on Welfare, Working Paper 02-02
  • Welfare Reform: What About the Children?, January 2002 - Policy Brief 02-1
  • A Closer Look at Changes in Children's Living Arrangements in Low-Income Families, Working Paper 02-01
  • Child Care Choices in the Era of Welfare Reform: Quality, Choices, and Preferences, December 2001 - Policy Brief 01-4
  • Public Assistance Receipt Among Native-Born Children of Immigrants, October 2001 - Policy Brief 01-3
  • Health Insurance Coverage for Children and Their Caregivers in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods, July 2001 - Policy Brief 01-2

Estimated Completion Date: 2003

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Time Limits (2001)

In late 2001, the first families reached the 60-month federal time limit on receipt of TANF benefits. ASPE and ACF jointly funded the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) to study the early experiences of states in implementing both the federal time limit and shorter state time limits, in order to be able to answer questions about these policies that come up as part of the debate regarding TANF reauthorization. Based on a survey of state TANF administrators, the report will examine the policies that states have adopted regarding time limits, exemptions, and extensions; the number of cases that have reached state or federal time limits; and whether they have been terminated as a result. The report will then draw upon site visits to examine the implementation of time limits in greater detail. Finally, the report will summarize the existing literature on the effects of time limits on welfare receipt, employment, income and other measures of adult and child well-being, and on the outcomes for families terminated from welfare due to time limits.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Welfare Reform and Children (2001)

While some experimental studies of welfare to work programs have measured outcomes for children, broader discussions of welfare reform are rarely framed around issues for children. Under this project, Mathematica Policy Research (and subcontractor Child Trends) will summarize the current body of research on welfare programs and children (either all children or a salient subgroup) and identify paths for future research. Topics under consideration include: characteristics of children in welfare-dependent families, family structure, child care, and child welfare.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2002

Synthesis of Literature on Family Composition and Resource Sharing (2001)

Welfare reform's effects on family formation and composition as well as how such changes can affect the financial resources and material well-being of members of low-income households are issues of strong interest to policy makers. Through a literature review, The Urban Institute is documenting what is currently known about the effects of welfare policies on family formation and resource sharing. This synthesis will provide an overview of existing research across disciplines (e.g., anthropology, sociology and economics). The study also will summarize key data sources on this issue (e.g., SIPP, CPS, NLSY, SPD, National Survey of America's Families, National Survey of Family Growth) and their strengths and weaknesses for investigating family composition and household resource and well-being issues.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Follow-up Work on Minnesota Family Investment Program Evaluation (2001)

Recently released findings based upon a small sample from the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation's (MDRC) evaluation of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) suggest that the program had significant positive impacts on the marital stability of two-parent families. ASPE is funding a follow-up study of all two-parent recipient families in the sample to determine if the robustness of the original findings can be replicated in the larger sample. This work is a necessary first step before a decision is made about conducting a longer-term follow-up analysis of well-being outcomes for these families. If the original findings hold up for the larger sample, the balance of the task order funds will be used to develop (but not field) survey instruments for measuring well-being for the full sample.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2002

Case Studies of State Initiatives to Reduce Out-of-Wedlock Births (2001)

The reduction of nonmarital births is an important focus of TANF. This is highlighted in the goals of TANF and several provisions including the Bonus to Reward Reduction in Illegitimacy Ratio. This project examines recent state experiences in their efforts to reduce nonmarital births, including the role the Bonus has played in those efforts. This project gathers information from a sample of states to learn more about what efforts states have pursued in reducing nonmarital births and the challenges they have faced. The information has been gathered through panel discussions with stakeholders in a sample of states and from existing surveys of state efforts.

Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2002