the household members of the former recipients are also used. Another suggestion was to use food stamp administrative data, which contain information on other household members, and their Social Security numbers, with which earnings information can be linked.

Other Outcomes

It will be important to collect several macrolevel variables in order to understand the context of welfare reform in each local jurisdiction. Measures of local labor market conditions, juvenile arrest rates, and teenage pregnancy rates could be important control variables in an analysis of the outcomes of former recipients and their children.

POPULATIONS OF INTEREST

The multifaceted changes in social welfare programs raise many questions about who the changes affect and how they are affected. There is a range of potential study populations, from leavers (former recipients), divertees (people who are diverted from applying for program benefits, either formally or informally), and entrants, to the broader population of all poor individuals. A broad study of all poor people potentially affected by welfare reform is a useful population to use to gauge the effects of policy changes. From this population, entry effects, exit effects, and diversion effects can be analyzed. The majority of states, however, proposed to study only those who have left welfare. Some states and counties did propose creative ways to try to capture a broader population of all poor families, such as taking the set of individuals who are enrolled in other means tested programs for families (Medicaid and food stamps) but who are not enrolled in TANF as a comparison group, or by gathering data on those individuals formally diverted from applying for TANF or who withdrew from the application process before it was completed.

A definitional question of how to treat child-only cases received much attention at the workshop. Child-only cases arise out of several circumstances: U.S.-born children of immigrants, whose parents are not eligible but who themselves are eligible; children not in the custody of their parents who are in foster care and whose caretakers are receiving benefits on their behalf; and those whose mothers were once receiving benefits but were sanctioned because of time limits or because they did not fulfill work requirements.4 The definitional question here is if they should be counted as “leavers” when they no longer receive assistance. This question is particularly troublesome for the last category of child-only cases, for which the sanction policy becomes a benefit reduction because the parents may still receive cash assistance, but only for an amount that covers the child(ren) of the case.

Workshop participants were divided about including these cases in the leaver studies. One reason for not including them is that they are special cases that may not be subject to work requirements or time limits, and are, therefore, likely to have different behaviors than other leavers. Proponents of excluding the child-only cases also questioned how surveys of this group of leavers would be conducted. A child cannot answer a survey, and a parent, foster parent, or guardian may

4  

A total of 23 percent of all cases nationwide were child-only cases in 1997 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998).



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DATA AND METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES FOR TRACKING FORMER WELFARE RECIPIENTS: A WORKSHOP SUMMARY the household members of the former recipients are also used. Another suggestion was to use food stamp administrative data, which contain information on other household members, and their Social Security numbers, with which earnings information can be linked. Other Outcomes It will be important to collect several macrolevel variables in order to understand the context of welfare reform in each local jurisdiction. Measures of local labor market conditions, juvenile arrest rates, and teenage pregnancy rates could be important control variables in an analysis of the outcomes of former recipients and their children. POPULATIONS OF INTEREST The multifaceted changes in social welfare programs raise many questions about who the changes affect and how they are affected. There is a range of potential study populations, from leavers (former recipients), divertees (people who are diverted from applying for program benefits, either formally or informally), and entrants, to the broader population of all poor individuals. A broad study of all poor people potentially affected by welfare reform is a useful population to use to gauge the effects of policy changes. From this population, entry effects, exit effects, and diversion effects can be analyzed. The majority of states, however, proposed to study only those who have left welfare. Some states and counties did propose creative ways to try to capture a broader population of all poor families, such as taking the set of individuals who are enrolled in other means tested programs for families (Medicaid and food stamps) but who are not enrolled in TANF as a comparison group, or by gathering data on those individuals formally diverted from applying for TANF or who withdrew from the application process before it was completed. A definitional question of how to treat child-only cases received much attention at the workshop. Child-only cases arise out of several circumstances: U.S.-born children of immigrants, whose parents are not eligible but who themselves are eligible; children not in the custody of their parents who are in foster care and whose caretakers are receiving benefits on their behalf; and those whose mothers were once receiving benefits but were sanctioned because of time limits or because they did not fulfill work requirements.4 The definitional question here is if they should be counted as “leavers” when they no longer receive assistance. This question is particularly troublesome for the last category of child-only cases, for which the sanction policy becomes a benefit reduction because the parents may still receive cash assistance, but only for an amount that covers the child(ren) of the case. Workshop participants were divided about including these cases in the leaver studies. One reason for not including them is that they are special cases that may not be subject to work requirements or time limits, and are, therefore, likely to have different behaviors than other leavers. Proponents of excluding the child-only cases also questioned how surveys of this group of leavers would be conducted. A child cannot answer a survey, and a parent, foster parent, or guardian may 4   A total of 23 percent of all cases nationwide were child-only cases in 1997 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998).