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Evaluating Welfare Reform: A Framework and Review of Current Work
stratifiers, such as education, employment, and welfare recipiency history; include information on the welfare program provisions in effect for the cohorts studied and key features of the economic environment (e.g., state and local unemployment rates); and 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.
For subsequent rounds of studies of welfare leavers, the panel recommends that ASPE ask grantees to specify a broad definition of leavers that includes the widest possible set of families, such as child-only cases. Most of the grantees are excluding these cases from their leaver studies. While there are reasons to exclude child-only cases, the panel believes 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 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.