With all that’s going on right now, you could be forgiven for forgetting that 2020 is also a census year. But it’s incredibly important that you don’t just write off filling out your Census form as another to-do that you don’t have time for!

The U.S. Census, which was written as a mandate into the Constitution more than 200 years ago, is basically a head count that helps our government figure out where to send tax dollars to make sure community needs are met. Sadly, though, children are often undercounted and that means a lost opportunity for funding.

The federal government distributed more than $1.5 trillion in 2017 (the latest figures) that included more than 300 programs that target kids’ needs, especially kids that are marginalized because of race, socioeconomics, and geography. Some of the programs that received funding to help keep kids healthy and safe included Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Head Start, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to name a few.

According to one estimate, upwards of 2.2 million kids were undercounted on the 2010 Census, which is the same number of kids who attended school in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, and Maine. So, as you can see, it is critical that every child is counted on the 2020 Census.

One of the reasons why kids are dramatically undercounted is because of complex living situations. For example, kids who have co-parents in two different households, kids who live with grandparents or other relatives, or kids who are undocumented (there is no citizenship question on the Census), or living in areas with high poverty rates are especially vulnerable to being missed.  

The Census doesn’t have to be an intimidating form to fill out, in fact it’s pretty quick and easy! Here are a few things to know:

  • The Census is written in 59 different languages.
  • Anyone who is living in the U.S. on or after April 1, 2020 needs to answer it.
  • You can answer it on paper, online, or over the phone.
  • If you missed the paper version, then you can still complete it online or over the phone.
  • If you haven’t filled it out on paper or online, then volunteers called enumerators will begin going door-to-door to those who haven’t yet responded.
  • There is no citizenship question on the 2020 census.
  • Your information cannot be released to any other agencies and enumerators are sworn to protect your data.
  • If you have more questions you can check out https://2020census.gov/.

Have you been counted yet? If not, complete your Census today!