The data used to analyze the CCDF program came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's ACF-801 database. The ACF-801 data are nationally representative and consist of state caseload submissions from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The children represented in the ACF-801 database contain geographical identifiers that allow researchers to observe the demographic and economic characteristics of the counties in which CCDF children reside, including whether they are urban or rural.
While some counties almost entirely consist of either urban or rural areas, many contain a blend of city and countryside land masses and are not easily defined with a two-category identification system. To address this challenge, the analysis used the Isserman Urban-Rural Density classification system to place each child into one of four types of counties based on the blend of urban and rural areas inside their borders. Counties that almost entirely consisted of either urban or rural areas were designated simply as urban or rural. Counties that were not easily defined as primarily urban or rural were designated as mixed-urban or mixed-rural, depending on their population densities.