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Conclusion

The coming years will see the publication of many reports evaluating the impact of the new welfare regime. Some of the most significant have been described in this publication. If all goes well, these studies will help policymakers assess the potential consequences of various reform efforts. They also will aid practitioners by identifying implementation challenges and strategies encountered by others implementing similar reform efforts. In fact, because the new welfare reform law gives states unprecedented flexibility in shaping their welfare programs, these various evaluations may constitute, in their totality, the best information on the effects of welfare reform.

These studies will rely on a variety of evaluation designs and they will inevitably vary in their quality and usefulness. There are no perfect evaluations and even poorly executed ones usually contain some findings that are worthwhile. The challenge will be to identify what is useful and apply it to improving programs. These judgments will often require expertise and experience.

To help the public, other scholars, practitioners, and policymakers understand this research and apply its lessons, we have established a blue ribbon committee of experts in evaluation and related social science fields to provide an independent review of the research on welfare reform; that is, to "evaluate the evaluations."

Each year, the Committee to Review Welfare Reform Research will assess the quality and relevance of the 10 to 25 most significant evaluation studies, identifying those findings that are sufficiently well-grounded to be regarded as credible. It will report its findings in the general media as well as in scholarly and professional journals.

The professional stature of the Review Committee's members is obviously critical to the credibility of its assessments‹and to the attention they would receive. Thus, it is composed of experts whose accomplishments in the field of program evaluation and social policy analysis are widely known and respected. At present, the members of the committee are:

Douglas J. Besharov is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs. He was the first director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. He is the author or editor of several books, including Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned (1990), When Drug Addicts Have Children: Reorienting Child Welfare's Response (1994), and Enhancing Early Childhood Programs: Burdens and Opportunities (1996).

Robert F. Boruch is University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. A fellow of the American Statistical Association, he has received awards for his work on research methods and policy from the American Educational Research Association, the American Evaluation Association, and the Policy Studies Association. He is the author of nearly 150 scholarly papers and author or editor of a dozen books, including Randomized Experiments for Planning and Evaluation: A Practical Guide (1997) and Evaluation of AIDS Prevention Programs (1991).

James J. Heckman is Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and director of the Center for Social Program Evaluation at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago. He is co-editor of Longitudinal Analysis of Labor Market Data (1985) and numerous scholarly articles on evaluation topics.

Robinson G. Hollister is a professor of economics at Swarth-more College. He has organized and led reviews of the effectiveness of employment and training programs, including The Minority Female Single Parent Demonstration: New Evidence About Effective Training Strategies (1990), and was co-editor of The National Supported Work Demonstration (1984).

Christopher Jencks is a professor of public policy at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard University. His research areas of interest include social mobility and inequality. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Social Insurance. His publications include The Homeless (1994), Rethinking Social Policy: Race, Poverty, and the Underclass (1992), and Inequality (1974).

Glenn C. Loury is a professor of economics and director of the Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University. He has served on several advisory commissions of the National Academy of Sciences and is currently vice president of the American Economic Association. He is author of One by One, From the Inside Out: Essays and Reviews on Race and Responsibility in America (1995).

Peter H. Rossi is S.A. Rice Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). He is a past president of the American Sociological Association and has received awards for work in evaluation from the American Evaluation Association, the American Sociological Association, and the Policy Studies Organization. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications, including Just Punishments: Federal Guidelines and Public Views Compared (1997), Feeding the Poor: An Analysis of Five Federal Nutrition Programs (1997), Evaluation: A Systematic Approach (1993), and Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness (1989).

Isabel V. Sawhill is a senior fellow and holds the Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy at the Brookings Institution. She served two years as associate director of human resources at the Office of Management and Budget. She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, including Welfare Reform: An Analysis of the Issues (1995) and Challenge to Leadership: Economic and Social Issues for the Next Decade (1988).

Thomas C. Schelling is Distinguished Professor at the School of Public Affairs and Department of Economics of the University of Maryland. He is a past president of the American Economic Association. He serves on or chairs committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the Social Sciences Research Council. He is the author of eight books and over 120 articles, including Choice and Consequence (1984) and Strategy of Conflict (1980).

James Q. Wilson is James Collins Professor of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles and a past president of the American Political Science Association. He is the author of numerous books, including Crime and Human Nature (1996), The Moral Sense (1993), and Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It (1991).

Other experts may be added in the future.

For policymakers and program administrators to benefit from the Committee's work, they must be aware of it. Therefore, an extensive dissemination effort will be undertaken through the University of Maryland's Welfare Reform Academy. (See Appendix B.) The Review Committee's assessments will be designed to be understandable by program administrators, policymakers, and the general public, while still being informative to scholars involved in researching welfare reform. They will be published in monographs and used as the basis of articles for scholarly journals, professional journals, magazines, and newspapers. In addition, we plan to hold quarterly seminars to review the assessments and place them in a policy-relevant context. These sessions will be broadcast on a nationwide TV satellite/downlink network operated by the Welfare Reform Academy.

1997 by the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.  All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing from the University of Maryland except in cases of brief quotations embodied in news articles, critical articles, or reviews.  The views expressed in the publications of the University of Maryland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, advisory panels, officers, or trusties of the University of Maryland


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