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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Census Count=Money for Our Communities

Mar 03, 2020 12:57PM
Every 10 years the Census collects data on the US population. It is actually the only official population count that the federal government conducts. Why is this data collected?

• First, the population count determines how much money local communities get for programs that support families. This includes money for schools, childcare, medical care, food assistance, housing, and public transportation.

• The Census also plays a big part in how well local communities are represented by elected officials in California and Washington, DC. Of all US states, California had the highest undercount of children five and younger on the 2010 Census. An undercount in 2020 could cost California up to $115 billion per year across federal programs.

Given that federal funds and political representation are both dependent on the data, the federal government emphasizes that those filling out the form should count everyone living at their address. It’s worth noting here that the law requires that the US Census Bureau must keep private all collected data; landlords and other government agencies are not allowed to see it. Any Census employee who breaks this law faces serious penalties: a fine of up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both.
So, here’s what to consider to make sure everyone at an address is counted:

• Count all children, including babies born on or before April 1, 2020. If they are living at the address on April 1, 2020, count all nieces, nephews, grandchildren, foster children, and people who are not relatives, such as friends and their children.

• Count people even if they are not US citizens. A person’s immigration status doesn’t matter on the Census, and the Census won’t ask if people are US citizens.

• Count all people living at the address, even if they are not on the lease or rental agreement.

To respond to the Census, parents and caregivers can go online or communicate by phone in English, Spanish, or 11 other languages. Census forms can even be filled out on smartphones. For those who don’t speak English, video and printed guides are
available in 59 different languages at 2020census.gov. For more information, go to californiacensus.org