Wide variation was found in these measures across Illinois, California, and North Carolina. Differences also were identified for the four measures across children’s age groups. This study provides an example of (1) the need to collaborate with other state agencies when using administrative data; (2) the importance of defining the population of study, in this case entry cohorts for 1 year prior to PRWORA with no AFDC/TANF enrollment in the previous 2 years; and (3) the difficulty of generalizing across local areas when studying the characteristics and consequences of welfare programs.
South Carolina has also developed linking capacity of administrative data called CHILD LINK (South Carolina Department of Social Services 1999). This state system links the following data sets: AFDC/TANF, food stamps, Medicaid eligibility, Medicaid payments, work support program data, child protective services, foster care, juvenile justice, alcohol and substance abuse, and wage data. The purpose is to better understand the Medicaid utilization for children after a parent becomes employed and to determine whether, after a client leaves welfare, they use other services to help them through the transition period.
Finally, an inventory of administrative data sets was prepared by UC Data Archive and Technical Assistance of the University of California at Berkeley (1999). This inventory was the result of surveying 26 states about their use of administrative data sets and their capacity to link them. Ninety-five percent of the 26 states were linking AFDC/TANF, Medicaid eligibility, and Food Stamp Program data. Fifty percent were linking AFDC/TANF, Medicaid claims, Medicaid eligibility, and Food Stamp Program data.
The considerable overlap between welfare and child welfare service populations is well documented. Children from welfare families account for as much as 45 percent of those served by the child welfare system (American Humane Association, 1984). The strong association between welfare and child maltreatment may be due to a number of factors, including the stresses associated with poverty, the existence of concurrent risk factors such as mental illness and illicit drugs, and welfare recipients’ more frequent contact with public authorities (Coulton et al., 1995; Gelles, 1992; Gil, 1971; Giovannoni and Billingsley, 1970; Wolock and Magura, 1996; Zuravin and DiBlasio, 1996).
Given the documented association between welfare and child maltreatment, a number of authors have reflected on the possible impacts of welfare reform on child welfare (Aber et al., 1995; Haskins, 1995; Meezan and Giovannoni, 1995; Wilson et al., 1995; Zaslow et al., 1995). Essentially all conclude that efforts to induce welfare mothers to self-sufficiency may impact rates of child maltreatment. Again, whether this impact is positive or negative depends in part on what effect reforms have on family income, parental stress, and access to services (Collins and Aber, 1996). For example, loss of benefits or other income supports