Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2002. Other Projects


Project on Devolution and Urban Change (2000 and 2001)

This five-year project (which is primarily foundation-funded) is a multi-disciplinary study by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) of the implementation and impacts of welfare reform and welfare-to-work programs on low-income individuals, families and communities in four large urban areas - Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Miami. The project brings together data from an unusually wide array of sources - longitudinal administrative data for all families receiving AFDC/TANF or food stamps dating back to 1992, survey data, an implementation study, neighborhood indicators, an institutional study focusing on local service providers, and an ethnographic study of a limited number of families. In addition to ASPE, federal funding partners include ACF and the Economic Research Service at USDA. The federal contribution to this project leverages a substantial investment by foundations, which are funding the majority of the over $20 million project cost.

Accomplishments to date:

Is Work Enough? The Experiences of Current and Former Welfare Mothers Who Work, November 2001.

This report examined the work experiences of current and former welfare recipients in four urban areas, comparing those with the most stable recent employment histories to those with less stable employment. The researchers found high levels of full-time work and employment stability among these women, but even the women with high employment stability still worked in low-wage jobs and experienced multiple material hardships.

Readying Welfare Recipients for Work: Lessons from Four Big Cities as They Implement Welfare Reform, March 2002.

This report described how the welfare-to-work services provided to clients have changed in four urban areas since TANF, examining services and activities, the role of case management, participation rates, and spending patterns. The paper also looks at the effects of the funding provided under the formula grant component of the Welfare to Work Grants.

(These and other Urban Change reports are available at <>)

Estimated Completion Date: September 2003

Continuation of New Jersey Welfare/Substance Abuse Evaluation (1998 and 2000)

In FY 1998 we began funding, in partnership with ACF, a three year grant to support the evaluation of a New Jersey initiative which aims to improve employment and family outcomes for TANF recipients with substance abuse problems through substance abuse treatment, intensive case management and supportive services. This evaluation is providing important information about the effectiveness of a type of intervention several states are experimenting with to move substance abusing welfare clients toward self-sufficiency. The intervention New Jersey is implementing includes screening of welfare recipients for substance abuse problems, treatment referral mechanisms with enhanced case management, and substance abuse treatment coordinated with employment and training or vocational services. The evaluation, using a random assignment model, compares two models for providing such services, looking at outcomes in several domains including employment and family self-sufficiency, substance use and associated behaviors, child development and family functioning, and child welfare involvement. The intervention being evaluated is intended to improve the post-welfare prospects of TANF recipients with substance abuse problems. The evaluation is being conducted in two New Jersey counties (Essex and Atlantic). ASPE and ACF have provided support for this project. Other aspects of the evaluation are being funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Department's National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Estimated Completion Date: Random assignment of clients to the intervention models began in mid-1999. Research Notes on the effectiveness of two approaches to screening and assessment of substance abuse in welfare settings, and on the initial rates of treatment engagement and retention for program participants versus the control group were published in January 2001. A report entitled Barriers to Employability Among Women on TANF with a Substance Abuse Problem has been completed. Reports on project implementation and outcomes will be published later in 2002.

Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A. FANS) (1999)

The Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A. FANS) is a longitudinal study by RAND of children, families and neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health, with ASPE and Los Angeles County providing supplemental funding for the first wave of data collection. L.A. FANS includes a representative sample of 65 neighborhoods (census tracts) throughout Los Angeles County, with an oversample of poor neighborhoods. In each neighborhood, interviews are conducted with a total of 40 to 50 randomly-chosen households; households with children (0 to 17) are oversampled. Extensive information is collected on household socioeconomic status, health care utilization, immigration, and other characteristics. In addition, L.A. FANS collects a detailed two-year month-by-month calendar of changes in employment, unemployment, health insurance coverage for adults and children (by type and reason for changes), and program participation (TANF, SSI, GA, food stamps). Information also is collected on the characteristics and available health services in each sampled neighborhood.

Fieldwork for the first wave of the study was conducted between April 2000 and December 2001. Interviews were completed with adults and children in a total of 3,171 households. Because of recent immigration trends and the oversample of poor communities, the L.A. FANS wave 1 sample includes a substantial number of first and second generation immigrants. Reflecting the demography of Los Angeles, a majority of respondents are Latino. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish by native speakers of each language. Analysis of the wave 1 data will be carried out during the next year and regular reports of findings will be released as available on RAND's website at <>. Public use data files also will be released for other researchers' analyses of welfare reform, health disparities, insurance coverage, and health care utilization. In addition, RAND is working with the Los Angeles County Commission on Children and Families, the Los Angeles County Children's Planning Council, and other organizations to insure that data and results are available to local and state policymakers. RAND is currently seeking funding for a second wave planned for 2004.

Estimated Completion Date: 2003

Demonstration and Evaluation of Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ (2001)

State and local agencies are making substantial investments through TANF and other sources to help low-income families with demonstrated difficulty entering and sustaining employment. There is a significant amount of activity and a variety of approaches being used to help low-income parents address or cope with the personal and family problems that interfere with their employment stability. ACF and ASPE are supporting a long-term, multi-site evaluation of programs working with hard-to-employ low-income parents in order to identify effective strategies for promoting employment and family well-being and to determine the effects of such programs on employment, earnings, income, welfare dependence, family functioning, and the well-being of children. The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation has been chosen as the contractor to design and conduct a multi-site evaluation that studies the implementation issues, net impact, and benefit-costs of selected programs. During the first year, the MDRC will assist HHS in identifying and recruiting programs with potential for evaluation and will assist selected programs in strengthening or expanding services to meet requisite conditions for rigorous evaluation.

Estimated Completion Date: 2009

Support for Working Families and Their Children (2001)

This project helps support a National Governors Association (NGA) project to build state and local capacity to provide work supports which help low-income working parents sustain employment and advance in the labor market, as well as increase positive family functioning and child well-being. In October 2001, NGA convened a roundtable of federal and state policymakers, program administrators, and researchers with subject area expertise to develop clear goals for serving low-income working families. NGA has identified programs that are currently providing supports for low-income workers and their families, and is conducting site visits in order to identify lessons learned from their experiences. These lessons will be incorporated into a State Policymakers Guide to Developing a Policy Agenda for Low-Income Working Families, and NGA will convene one or more conferences for state and local officials. NGA also will provide customized technical assistance to three states that wish to develop these models further. ACF is the lead agency on this project, and USDA/ERS also is providing funding for this project.

Estimated Completion Date: February 2003

Evaluation of State Programs of Abstinence Education (2001)

ASPE/HSP continues to manage an existing $6 million multi-year contract with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) to conduct a Congressionally mandated evaluation of selected programs under Title V, State Abstinence Education Program. This large and complex, rigorous evaluation is taking an empirical look at the differential effectiveness of several types of abstinence programs. It will measure the success of different program models in altering adolescent attitudes and intentions about premarital sex, reducing sexual activity among teens, convincing adolescents who have had sex to become abstinent, and lowering exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and nonmarital births. The 2001 ASPE funds will allow the evaluation to follow adolescents for longer periods of time and to coordinate with the newly mandated community-based abstinence education evaluation (see below). Highlights from the interim early implementation report to Congress are included in Chapter 2. A report on the success of programs in achieving their short term goals of changing knowledge, attitudes and near-term behavioral choices is expected in Winter 2003. The final impact findings will be available in 2005. Details and updated information about the evaluation can be found at Mathematica Policy Research's web site on abstinence-only education programs <>.

Estimated Completion Date: 2005

In FY 2001, a new community based abstinence education grant program was created in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These community grants provide support to public and private entities for the development and implementation of abstinence education programs in communities. ASPE has been given responsibility for the Community Based Abstinence Education Program Evaluation activities. This separate but related project, to be conducted by Abt Associates, will explore the programmatic and evaluative information that currently exists in the area of abstinence-only education and related fields, and develop design options for evaluation activities. This work will be coordinated with the ongoing evaluation of the state formula grant program activities.

Case Studies on Privatization of Service Delivery and Performance-Based Contracting (2001)

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 traditionally have 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 attempt to maintain accountability while testing the effectiveness of these non-traditional service providers. Under this project, Mathematica Policy Research is undertaking case studies of six state and local human services agencies that have privatized services funded under the TANF block grant. The sites selected for participation in this study include: Delaware, Wisconsin, Hennepin County, MN, Palm Beach County, FL, San Diego County, CA, and Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX. Agency administrators and front-line workers are being interviewed to determine the types of services that have been privatized and the performance measures used by government entities in their relationships with private organizations. Site visits began in March 2002 and will take place throughout the spring and summer of this year. A final report will describe emerging positive trends and problem areas, in both the services delivered and the types of contracts used. In addition, a review of the literature in the area of privatization of welfare services has been completed, and will be posted on the ASPE web site at: <>.

Estimated Completion Date: January 2003