Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. OUTLINE FOR THE REST OF THE REPORT

08/28/2002

The following five chapters are dedicated to a specific domain and provide an in-depth review of the measures examined, as well as our recommended choice of measures to be included in the survey of TANF recipients. Chapter II covers demographic measures, while Chapter III covers employment and economic outcome measures. Chapter IV is dedicated to personal barrier measures, Chapter V to family barrier measures, and Chapter VI to community barrier measures. At the beginning of each chapter, we present a table that summarizes our recommendations and priorities for measuring the data items of interest in the survey. For each subtopic in the table, we provide the number of questions necessary for adequate measurement; references to surveys that have included the same subtopic; an estimate of the time it would take to administer the measure; and, in the last column, a rating of our priorities for each measure.

To indicate a strong recommendation for the measure, we placed an A in the final column. A rating of B indicates that it would be useful to include the measure, but either it is not critical to the purposes of our survey, or there are issues with reliable measurement of the topic that cause us to be somewhat less enthusiastic about recommending it. Thus, items given a B-rating are ones we would recommend including in the survey, time permitting, but they are not included in our overall time estimates for each section. Measures rated with a C are those we feel could be left out of the survey without seriously compromising its integrity.

The time estimates provide an approximation of how long it will take to administer the measures. Such estimates are variable because respondents can automatically skip out of questions or even entire measures (for example, only those who have work experience can answer the questions about basic job skills). Questions that are administered as part of a multi-item scale with the same response options tend to go more quickly than would the same number of stand-alone items; but this is not always the case. Despite the limitations associated with making estimates at this early stage of survey development, we include them now, in order to aid in making decisions about which measures to drop or abbreviate.

After this summary table, we provide: (1) detail on why each subtopic was selected for inclusion in the survey, including a sketch of background information on the characteristic as a potential barrier to work; (2) a discussion of the various measures used in prior research, their advantages and disadvantages, and their appropriateness for the survey we are developing; and (3) a discussion of the measures we recommend, along with the reasons for our recommending them over the alternatives  including, where appropriate, prioritization.

Appendices A and B provide more detailed information on the measures included in each instrument, organized by topic area and background information about the core group of survey instruments reviewed.

Footnotes

1. Background information about each instrument  such as sample design, sample size, and completion rate; mode of administration; key barrier measures covered; and contact information  are found in Appendix B.

 

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