Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2002. Projects to Improve Data Collection, Comparability or Capacity-Building


Support to the New Immigrant Survey (2000 and 2001)

The New Immigrant Survey is a large, longitudinal survey of recently arriving immigrants beginning in 2000. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD of the National Institutes of Health) are the principal funders of the survey. ASPE has contributed to this effort and also has 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.

Estimated Completion Date: 2005

State and Local Telephone Survey to Assess the Incidence of Children with Special Health Care Needs (2000)

The devolution of welfare to the states and increased flexibility poses substantial new challenges for data collection and analysis to monitor welfare outcomes. To meet these challenges new and better data are needed at the state and local level. This project supports the administration of a welfare participation question in the state level telephone survey - State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) - sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and carried out by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The participation question has been cognitively tested and is the same as that asked on other national surveys (e.g., Current Population Survey, National Survey of Drug Abuse). This data element when combined with other data available from this survey will permit the development of state level estimates of the incidence of special health care needs among children of current and former welfare recipients, as well as the health insurance status (including Medicaid and SCHIP) of current and former recipients. The fielding of the survey is complete, and data are being readied for analysis. Following the initial analysis of the data, a public-release database will be released for analysis.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Support for the Research Forum on Children, Families, and the New Federalism Database and Web Site (2000 and 2001)

This project, funded jointly by ACF and ASPE, supports the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) Research Forum on Children, Families, and the New Federalism database and website. The website is designed to provide the most reliable information to key stakeholders, including researchers, policymakers, administrators, and practitioners concerning welfare reform interventions being tested; populations and geographic areas being assessed; research methods being used; major findings already available; and when future findings will be released. The data base and web site provide valuable information useful to Federal officials and other practitioners regarding research and demonstration initiatives related to welfare reform and the well-being of low-income children and families.

Estimated Completion Date: On-going activity

Use of Social Security Summary Earnings Records to Assess Welfare Reform Outcomes (1999 and 2000)

This project continues ASPE's support of a study to determine the prevalence of job-holding associated with a living wage in the post-1996 period for adults who received AFDC benefits in calendar year 1996. The sample of 1996 adult recipients will be drawn from the 1996 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the Annual Demographic Supplement (ADS) to the March 1997 Current Population Survey and the 1997 base-line interview sample of the Survey of Program Dynamics. Post-1996 earnings activity will be documented using earnings records obtained from the Social Security Administration (SSA) administrative records matched to the samples for each of these surveys. Initial tracking of job holding and earnings levels via administrative records will be restricted to calendar years 1996, 1997 and possibly 1998. Job holding of female family heads with dependent children who were not receiving means-tested benefits also will be tracked to provide a broader context for interpreting the observed patterns among adult AFDC recipients. Employment and earnings outcomes will be differentiated both by baseline characteristics and earnings patterns established on the basis of the pre-1996 year-by-year lifetime earnings histories stemming from the SSA administrative records files. This project has been delayed because of difficulties in securing the necessary inter-agency data sharing agreements. All agreements are now in place, the data has been merged and the analysis phase is in progress. We expect to receive an initial report on welfare and former welfare recipients in Fall 2002.

Estimated Completion Date: December 2002

Project on Child Outcomes: Enhancing Measurement of Child Outcomes in State Welfare Evaluations and Other State Data Collections (2001)

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. Five states are using a common protocol to add child outcome measures to their welfare reform evaluations. Continuation funding is enabling states and their evaluators 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. The focus of the current phase of work is the production of a synthesis of the findings from the five state evaluations. The research technical assistance is provided by the NICHD Research Network on Family and Child Well-Being under Child Trends' Leadership.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002

Survey Development for State Studies of TANF Caseload (2001)

This task order is for the development of a standardized telephone survey instrument to be used in ASPE's State Studies on TANF Caseload project (described above) and for technical assistance throughout this project. Under this task order, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has developed a survey instrument following review of existing instruments, such as the Women's Employment Survey (WES), the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), the Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD), the Mathematica Policy Research Caseload Survey, and TANF "leavers" surveys from Missouri and Alameda County, CA. The survey instrument consists of a common set of questions to be administered by states participating in the above project, supplemented by additional questions according to each state's particular interests. Mathematica also will be responsible for gaining approval of the survey instrument from the Office of Management and Budget, and for providing a variety of technical assistance to participating states.

Estimated Completion Date: Winter 2003

A Study of Families on TANF in Illinois (2001) (formerly Analysis of Survey Data on the TANF Caseload in Illinois)

This task order is to assist ASPE in utilizing survey data on the TANF caseload in Illinois. The data were acquired by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., in a project funded by the Packard and Casey Foundations. The data will include information on the personal characteristics and situations, potential barriers to employment, compensating strengths and resources, preparation for employment, and employment outcomes of current TANF recipients. Under the ASPE task order, Mathematica is analyzing this rich set of data, in order to explore the relationships of an array of factors to the employment outcomes of TANF recipients. In particular, the analysis will enhance ASPE's understanding of the extent to which "job readiness" or "human capital" - the skills, experiences, habits and attitudes that prepare individuals for employment - compensate for barriers to employment. Findings will inform TANF policy and administration, particularly regarding screening and assessment, job preparation strategies and the targeting of services. An interim report of preliminary findings is expected in July 2002, and a final report in January 2003.

Estimated Completion Date: Winter 2003

Small Grant Program on Use of HHS-Sponsored Data Sets (2001)

Over a dozen new HHS-sponsored administrative and survey databases have recently become available for researcher use. Secondary analyses of new databases will increase our understanding of the outcomes of welfare reform. These databases include data from the ASPE supported National Evaluation of Welfare to Work Strategies (NEWWS), as well as state and local welfare leaver studies. In this project, HSP is working with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin to provide dissertation and post-dissertation grants to young scholars to explore aspects of welfare reform using the HHS-sponsored data sets. The grants also will build capacity by encouraging younger scholars to undertake welfare-related research. Three grants were awarded in December 2001; additional grants are expected to be awarded in June 2002.

Estimated Completion Date: Reports from the first grants are expected in early 2003; reports from the second round of grants are expected in late 2003.

Measures of Material Hardship (2001) (formerly Measures of Family Hardship)

Although a number of national and state surveys have begun gathering measures of material hardship (e.g., utility cutoffs, inability to get needed medical attention, food insecurity, evictions), it is hard to respond to Congressional interest in gathering information on a state-by-state basis, given the small sample size of most national surveys and the lack of comparability across state surveys. The purpose of this project is to advance understanding of the value and limitations of measures of material hardship as a component of family well-being. The initial phase of this project has been completed, including the convening in February 2002 of a one-day roundtable on measuring material hardship. Over the coming months, the contractor, Abt Associates, will produce a final report summarizing the one-day meeting.

Estimated Completion Date: December 2002

Panel Study of Income Dynamics: Core Support and Expanded Sample for Child Supplement (2001)

This project continued ASPE's on-going core support for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). ASPE funds provide partial support for the continued collection and processing of longitudinal data relevant to research on economic factors and income support mechanisms, health, fertility, medical care, and disability affecting the poor and the elderly. In particular, ASPE funds continued to support an expansion of the set of welfare related questions to assess the entry effects of recent reforms. In addition, these funds supported an expanded sample of low-income families with children for core data collection activities related to the Child Supplement, which collects a host of information on the well-being of children. Data collected as part of this effort will be made publicly available for analysis by the grantee. Core support for the PSID comes from the National Science Foundation ($2 million), the National Institute on Aging, and the Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development, along with other funders.

Estimated Completion Date: On-going activity

Improving State Child and Youth Indicators of Health and Well-Being (2001)

Working with the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and Child Trends, ASPE is preparing a technical assistance conference for states that are interested in developing and monitoring indicators of youth health and well-being as changes occur in welfare and other key policies. The contractors have created inventories of national and state efforts to improve youth measures, and are working with states to design and conduct a meeting on youth indicators, develop dissemination materials, and identify the best opportunities for HHS to assist states in the future. The meeting was held in Spring 2002, and materials are being/will be disseminated during major meetings, such as the National Youth Summit in June 2002, and the annual meeting of the National Association of Welfare Research and Statistics scheduled for August 2002.

Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2002