Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Measuring Impact

06/01/2002

In anticipation of later analyses of the effects of welfare reform, researchers in several states have undertaken projects using linked longitudinal AFDC and child welfare data to better understand the overlap between these two programs. These projects serve as models of what will be possible with post-TANF data. In one such endeavor, the Child Welfare Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley undertook an analysis to identify the characteristics of poor families at risk of child maltreatment. Using data from the California Children's Services Archive, researchers constructed a longitudinal database of children entering AFDC between 1988 and 1995 using MediCal data in 10 counties. Probability-matching software was employed to link AFDC histories for these children with birth records, statewide foster care data, and child maltreatment reporting data. Results revealed substantial overlap between the welfare and child welfare populations, with approximately 27 percent of all 1990 child AFDC entrants having child welfare contact, within 5 years and 3 percent entering foster care. This indicates that the overlap between welfare and child protective services is large enough to allow modeling of changes over time and across program types, although analyses of transitions to foster care may be too few to allow powerful modeling. Both total time on aid as well as the number of spells on aid were associated with child welfare contact. Children who transitioned to the child welfare system were more likely to come from single-parent families, larger families, have low birthweight and late or no prenatal care (Needell et al., 1999).

A similar analysis was undertaken in Illinois at the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children. Using linked longitudinal data from the state Department of Children and Family Services and the Division of Financial Support Services, Shook (1998) set out to identify baseline rates of maltreatment among children in the Illinois AFDC program between 1990 and 1995. She also identified risk factors for child welfare contact among this population. Risks were higher for children on nonparent cases, children from single-parent families, and white children. Of particular interest were the findings that transitions were more likely among children with sanctioned family grants, because child removals for neglect, lack of supervision, or risk of harm were more likely among sanctioned cases. In addition to helping to identify possible implications of TANF sanctions, the research highlights the use of linked administrative data in assessing the impact of welfare reform on child welfare.

Administrative data from child welfare records also have been combined with qualitative survey data to study the impact of welfare reform. For example, a study currently under way (a collaborative effort by The Urban Institute and The University of California at Berkeley's Center for Social Services Research and UC Data Archive and Technical Assistance, funded by the Stuart Foundation) will combine qualitative data of welfare recipients with data from their administrative welfare records and any available data on children in the home that exist in child welfare administrative data records. This "marriage" between administrative data and qualitative data holds great promise. Specifically, although administrative data can provide information to answer questions such as "How many? What proportion? How long?", other methods can shed some light as to "Why?"

The Center for Social Services Research at the University of California at Berkeley routinely has used child welfare administrative data to draw representative samples to study children using other research methods. For example, counties in the Bay Area Social Services Consortium have funded research to understand the educational needs of children in foster care. A random sample of caregivers drawn from administrative data records is being interviewed to gather detailed information about the children in their care. Similarly, case records of children have been reviewed to look at concurrent planning in child welfare. (Concurrent planning is the provision of an alternative permanent plan, such as adoption, simultaneously with efforts to return a child to his or her birthparent.) In both cases, the samples were drawn from administrative data. Such methods easily could be adapted to provide more in-depth analysis of critical welfare reform issues.

Despite the wide variety of outcome indicators that can be configured from child welfare administrative data, like all services data, child welfare data cover only those who receive services. Because child welfare data are available only for those abused and neglected children who come to the attention of public systems of care, changes to the undetected abuse rate that may result from welfare program changes cannot be assessed. Despite the hurdles associated with linking welfare and child welfare data, given the established association between poverty and maltreatment, child welfare advocates and policy makers must examine the impact of welfare reform on child welfare services. In particular, whether these changes increase the likelihood of maltreatment has important consequences for both the TANF families and children as well as the general social good. In addition to the immediate risk of physical harm and even death maltreated children face, longer term consequences include deficits in emotional and physical health, cognitive development, and socialization difficulties (Ammerman et al., 1986; Couch and Milner, 1993). Furthermore, observed relationships between childhood maltreatment and later criminal activity or abusive behavior also increase future consequences for both children and society (Gray, 1988; Jonson-Reid and Barth, 2000).

View full report

Preview
Download

"01.pdf" (pdf, 472.92Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"02.pdf" (pdf, 395.41Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"03.pdf" (pdf, 379.04Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"04.pdf" (pdf, 381.73Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"05.pdf" (pdf, 393.7Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"06.pdf" (pdf, 415.3Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"07.pdf" (pdf, 375.49Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"08.pdf" (pdf, 475.21Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"09.pdf" (pdf, 425.17Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"10.pdf" (pdf, 424.33Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"11.pdf" (pdf, 392.39Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"12.pdf" (pdf, 386.39Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"13.pdf" (pdf, 449.86Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"14.pdf" (pdf, 396.87Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®