National Census DAy was April 1, 2020, but don’t be fooled - the process of collecting the country’s decennial census will extend through July. City officials play a key role in encouraging participation and dispelling myths to improve accuracy.
More than $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed to state and local governments based on the 10-year census figures. This decade, Kentucky would lose more than $2,000 each year for each person who is not counted, so an accurate count is very important for various federal funding sources. The date collected is also valuable and is used in planning, redistricting and providing municipal services.
For the first time in a decennial census, most households will be invited to respond to the questionnaire either online or by phone. It is likely that many of the households in your city have already received their request through the mail. If they do not respond, they will be notified through the mail. For those who still do not respond, a paper questionnaire will be sent around mid-April. After that point, individual canvassers will show up over the next few months to collect the information.
When discussing the 2020 census with your constituents and community partners, keep these things in mind: 1. Completing the census form is required by law, but so is confidentiality of the information. Data can only be used for statistical purposes, and Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality and face still penalties if they disclose any individual information. 2. The form asks several questions about the household and every individual living there as of April 1, 2020. The Census Bureau never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, mother’s maiden name or anything on behalf of a political party. 3. Certain demographic groups are harder to count than others and need extra focus and outreach to collect their data. Some of the hard-to-count populations include children under the age of 5, highly mobile person, racial and thnic minorities, non-English speakers and low-income persons. 4. Undocumented immigrants are also hard to count. Although it was considered, a citizenship question is not included on the 2020 census form, and no individual data can be disclosed to immigration or law enforcement officials. 5. The Census Bureau utilizes other strategies to target the homeless population, those who are incarcerated and in-resident students at colleges and universities.
Beginning in 2018, Mayors were encouraged to form complete count committees to bring together various sectors of the community and identify strategies to increase participation. Even if you do not have a complete count committee, city officials can still informally reach out to key stakeholders, such as churches, nonprofits, businesses, school districts, healthcare providers, local media, and more. Engaging key players in the community, particularly those who interact with the hard-to-count populations noted above, will increase response rates and provide more accurate information.
Always remember that census date is safe, secure, and vital to the interests of city and county officials and the residents they represent.