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Evaluating Welfare Reform: A Framework and Review of Current Work
provides an overall framework for evaluating welfare reform, considering both evaluation methodologies and data needs. The material in this section will already be quite familiar to evaluation experts and is primarily targeted at state and federal policy-makers who have not been exposed to discussions of evaluation methodology. The discussion is intended to place evaluation methods and data sources into the context of current social policy programs and dynamics. Chapter 3 provides, at the request of ASPE, an in-depth discussion of 14 recently funded state-level welfare leaver studies. The designs of these studies, which are still in progress, are evaluated by applying the general principles of evaluation reviewed in Chapter 2, leading to an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the evaluation designs and databases planned for these projects. The 14 studies represent only a fraction of welfare reform evaluation activity around the country and only a fraction of even those studies that have been completed or are under way. Consequently, the discussion in the chapter is targeted primarily to those conducting the 14 studies and sponsoring officials at ASPE. However, the conclusions reached in this section have broader implications for welfare reform evaluation and therefore will be of some interest to the general welfare reform research and policy communities. This section also reports briefly on the other major welfare reform activities around the country.
The third and final section (Chapter 4) provides immediate, short-run recommendations directed primarily to ASPE regarding its research agenda for welfare reform and its further sponsoring of welfare leaver studies. The panel's final report will contain broader recommendations on evaluation and data needs for welfare reform.