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Welfare, Children, & Families: a three city study/ cityscape illustration w/ flowers


Longitudinal Survey
-Wave 1
-Wave 2
-Wave 3

Embedded Devt'l Study


Longitudinal Survey

Wave 1
Between March 1999 and December 1999 we interviewed a random sample of approximately 2,400 households with children in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. Forty percent of the families interviewed were receiving cash welfare payments at the time of the interview. Each household had a child age 0 to 4 or 10 to 14 at the time of the interview. The child and the child's primary female caregiver are the focus of the study. We gathered extensive baseline information at the initial personal interview with the caregivers, we tested and assessed younger children, and we interviewed older children. Interviews were conducted in-person using a computerized instrument. The table below describes the topics about which children and their caregivers were interviewed or assessed. See the Wave 1 User’s Guide (currently on Public Release page) for a description of the study and the data file design.

Labor Force Participation
Family Background
Family Routines
Home Environment
Positive Behaviors
Child Behavior Checklist
Challenges to Parenting
Parenting Style
Time Use
Father Involvement
Child Support
Financial Strain
Welfare Participation
Health & Disability
Illegal Activities*
Domestic Violence*
Brief Symptom Inventory*
Attitudes Toward Men and Marriage (wave 3 only)

Older Children
Physical Measurements
Woodcock-Johnson Letter-Word Identification and Applied Problems
Child-Mother Relationship*
Mother-Child Activities*
Parental Monitoring*
Father Involvement*
Father-Child Relationship*
Sex and Pregnancy*
Brief Symptom Inventory*

Younger Children
Physical Measurements
Ages and Stages
*Conducted by Audio-CASI

Wave 2  (return to top)
The second wave of data was collected between September 2000 and May 2001, when the focal children were between 1 and 6 or 11 and 16 years old. Eight-eight percent of the children interviewed at wave 1 were re-interviewed at wave 2. In the majority of cases, children at wave 2 continued to live with the same caregivers they had at wave 1. For those cases, we interviewed the wave 1 caregiver again as a "continuing caregiver" and did not collect information from the caregiver that should remain constant over time, e.g., birthdate, race, and family background.

In a handful of cases, children were residing with new caregivers at wave 2. We interviewed those focal children in their new households and administered a modified instrument to their new caregivers. This modified instrument collected demographic data on the new caregiver as well as information on when the focal child came to live in the caregiver’s home and the reason the focal child was no longer with her wave 1 caregiver. In addition to interviewing the focal child’s new caregiver, we also located and interviewed the separated wave 1 caregiver. This design enables users to study both caregivers and focal children longitudinally, without losing from the sample any dyad that separated between waves. The separated caregiver provides information about herself and her current household, but does not report on the focal child’s well-being or her relationship with the focal child.

The data resulting from this design is provided in three wave 2 data files: one file contains information on the focal children only (N=2,158); one file contains information on continuing caregivers and new caregivers (N=2,187); and one file contains information on separated caregivers (N=63). See the Wave 2 User’s Guide for a detailed description of the study and data file design.

Codebooks and information about how to obtain public-release data files from waves 1 and 2 are available here. (Combine files from current questionnaires page and current public release page on a single page called "public release.")

Wave 3 (Return to top)
The third wave of data collection took place between February 2005 and January 2006, when the focal children were between 5 and 10 or 15 and 20 years old. 79.7 percent of focal children who responded at wave 1 participated at wave 3.

Following the design we implemented at wave 2, wave 3 interviews were administered to focal children and to continuing, new, and separated caregivers. Only caregivers who were new since wave 2 were interviewed as new caregivers. Caregivers who were new at wave 2 but with whom the child still co-resided at wave 3 were interviewed as continuing caregivers. Wave 1 caregivers who no longer resided with focal children were interviewed as separated caregivers. New caregivers from wave 2 who were no longer co-residing with focal children at wave 3 were not interviewed.

The number of separated caregivers (N=229) is greater than in wave 2 because some older adult focal children were living independently (i.e., without a caregiver) at wave 3. The caregivers associated with these independent youth were treated as separated caregivers rather than as continuing caregivers. Independent youth (N=114) responded to the standard focal child interview but provided additional data on their household membership, union history, income, and work and welfare experience.

Two supplemental components were added at wave 3: an administrative records study and a school study including a teacher interview and the collection of students’ academic records. The administrative records study includes the collection of data from relevant agencies on survey respondents’ employment histories and use of various services since 1997. Approximately 75 percent of wave 3 respondents agreed to participate in the administrative records study. The school study includes a web-based interview with the focal child’s teacher and the collection of academic records since 1997. Nearly 90 percent of caregivers and children at wave 3 agreed to participate in the school study.

Data from wave 3 of the longitudinal survey will be publicly available in Summer 2007.

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