Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Studies of Welfare Leavers

06/01/2002

Table 2-1 summarizes the procedures discussed previously. It is organized around the three primary activities required to conduct a study: (1) locating the subject, (2) contacting the subject, and (3) obtaining cooperation.

In this section we discuss how these best practices have been applied in a number of surveys that have been conducted to evaluate welfare reform in different states. The purpose of this review is to provide a picture of the range of practices that have been used and how these practices relate to results.

TABLE 2-1:
Summary of Best Practices for Conducting Telephone Surveys of Welfare Leavers
Task Method Comment
Locate Respondent
  • Accurate address and telephone number
  • Contact for persons not living with subject
Collect at intake and update regularly Try to collect consent to search other databases
  • Use other sources to locate subject
Use available administrative databases (e.g., food stamps, Medicaid, drivers licenses); use commercially available sources (reverse directories, credit bureaus) Start with the least expensive methods
  • Telephone tracing; in-person tracing
  • In-person tracing
Review tracing record and follow leads Very expensive and requires specialized skills
Contacting Subjects
  • Pre-notification
  • Incentives and continued contact
Send letter prior to making contact
Repeated mailings to subjects
Use express delivery if possible
  • Call scheduling
Spread out calls over day/night; weekdays/weekends  
Obtaining Cooperation
  • Interviewer training and experience
Provide interviewers with answers to common questions Try to use experienced interviewers with good records
  • Questionnaire design
Minimize redundant questions
Keep length as short as possible
Pretest questions and allow for time to revise after the pretest
  • Survey introduction
Keep initial introduction as short as possible  
  • Refusal conversion
Prenotify with express mail and incentives  

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