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Evaluating Welfare Reform: A Framework and Review of Current Work
aged to fully document their data collection and analysis methods. For surveys, ASPE should foster agreement on a standard definition of response rates and other indicators of survey quality.
(6) The panel recommends that ASPE encourage the leaver study grantees to achieve the greatest possible comparability of analysis and results by asking grantees to share their tabulation, analysis, and reporting plans and by facilitating a dialogue to work toward comparability of analysis methods, reporting categories used, and documentation of methods and results.
We recommended above (Recommendation 2) that the Department of Health and Human Services address the definition of key populations of interest for welfare policy analysis and take steps to ensure that grant and contract research programs adequately cover key population groups. As important steps in this direction, we noted ASPE's plans to include divertees as well as leavers in its next round of leaver studies and its plans to develop a research program to study entrance as well as exit effects. For subsequent rounds of studies of welfare leavers, we recommend that ASPE ask grantees to specify a broad definition of leavers that includes the widest possible set of families. For example, in the current round of leaver studies, most grantees are excluding child-only cases in which the children are eligible for cash assistance but the adults, for one or another reason, are not (e.g., they may be foster parents or ineligible immigrants). The exception is that some grantees are including child-only cases that result because the adults in the families are sanctioned and thereby lose benefits for themselves. While there are reasons to exclude child-only cases, we believe the arguments are stronger to include them, so that it is possible to assess the circumstances of families that are receiving reduced cash assistance as well as those that are receiving no cash assistance. If administrative records systems are redesigned to track recipient families, it may be possible to analyze child-only cases at a relatively low cost.
(7) For subsequent rounds of grants for studies of welfare program leavers, ASPE should broaden the population of leavers to include the widest possible set of families.