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RESEARCH AREAS > Welfare/Social Insurance > Data Systems and Statistical Requirements for the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996

Data Systems and Statistical Requirements for the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 is not only a landmark in the development of American social policy, it is also a landmark in the governmental uses of statistical data and information. Major innovations in data collection and in database construction will be required to meet the goals of the Act. For example, to avoid substantial reductions in funding, states must meet strict outcome standards for the employment of welfare recipients. This will require measuring and recording in extraordinary detail the work experience of those receiving aid. States must also set five-year (or stricter) cumulative time limits on the receipt of welfare, and they must get recipients back to work by the time they have accumulated two years of aid. Meeting these goals will require, for the first time, tracking recipients over long periods of time. Longitudinal databases of unprecedented scope will have to be constructed for this purpose. States must strictly enforce child support laws, and several databases, including state and national registries of new hires must be created that can be updated quickly and made available to many governmental social service agencies. Several new studies are called for including a national survey of children who are at risk of child abuse or neglect, and this study must be longitudinal, must yield data at the State level for as many states as possible, must summarize the out-of-home placements of the child, and must determine the frequency of contact with State or local agencies. Any one of these tasks alone would pose a substantial challenge. Together they are formidable indeed.

Drs. Henry E. Brady and Barbara West Snow bring to bear their combined expertise in data management and analysis to examine the issues of this unpredecented demand on data systems. This report was prepared for the Committee on National Statistics of the National Research Council, in partnership with the Research Branch of the California Department of Social Services.
2008/02/21 15:47:48