Iowa Welfare Reform Evaluation, 1997-2001

Project Overview

Iowa Welfare Reform Evaluation complemented a separately funded evaluation completed on Iowa's Family Investment Program (FIP). The evaluation consisted of two studies–a study of repeat limited benefit plan (LBP) assignments and a study of post-employment services.

The study of repeat LBP assignments described the experiences and outcomes of welfare cases that were assigned to the LBP more than once, gathered information on why cases were reassigned, how reassigned cases were affected by cessation of cash assistance in a second LBP and the time-pattern of their return to cash assistance.

The study of post-employment services described and compared standard and enhanced post-employment services and assess their contribution to clients' progress toward self-sufficiency and off of cash assistance. It also documented the processes for developing, implementing and delivering post-employment services.

Major research questions for the study of repeat LBP assignments were: To what extent do recipients assigned to the LBP for a second time understand the Family Investment Agreement (FIA), a social contract requirement? After experience with LBP, what efforts do clients make to meet FIA requirements? What events, barriers and circumstances contribute to their failure to meet these requirements following their first LBP? What is the nature of changes in family income, employment, housing and stability following benefit termination under a second LBP? What are the demographic characteristics of cases assigned to the LBP for a second time?

The major questions for the study of post-employment services were how standard do and enhanced post-employment services differ? After initial job entry, what are: the employment patterns of clients, their initial and subsequent earnings, and their pattern of cash assistance and Food Stamps receipt and Medicaid eligibility? What are the barriers to types of employment that could lead to self-sufficiency?

The LBP assignment study was based on administrative data, survey data and case studies. The study of post-employment services will utilize a comparison site design to describe the delivery of post-employment services and to examine their role in promoting self-sufficiency. The post-employment study will have four components: a process study, an analysis of program data, a client survey and case studies.

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