Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Common Measures Used, Pros and Cons


In the Nebraska survey, the respondent is asked whether he or she has a criminal record and, if so, whether it caused the respondent to lose a job or be prevented from working or participating in training. The question is embedded in a longer list of things that could make it hard to look for a job. Similarly, the WES asks whether the respondent has a criminal record, in a list of reasons you think you dont have a job. The CalWORKS Prevalence Project and the SPD do not ask about respondents potential criminal activity.

Among the surveys of welfare respondents we examined, the Alameda survey includes the most extensive measurement of criminal background. It asks whether and, if so, how many times the respondent was convicted of a crime since reaching age 18. Respondents also are asked about 18 specific crimes they may have committed in the past year, and how many times they committed them. Finally, they are asked whether they have been on probation, bail, in jail/prison, or awaiting charges, trial or sentencing in the past 90 days. These measures do not appear to have national norms against which results could be compared.

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