Let’s Talk Census! Why it Matters for the Common Good

by | Sep 20, 2019 | Billie's Blog

The next census will be in March 2020. This go ‘round, the census will be mostly completed online. Between March 12 and 20, most households will receive a postcard invitation to participate in the census via the internet. Should households not respond to this invitation, they will receive a paper form in the mail. Should the household not respond by internet or mail, the U. S. Census Bureau will send a census taker to the home to collect the data. (Eaton, 2019) Wow! They want to hear from us! But why such a robust effort? There are very good reasons.

Did you know?

The census counts every person living in the U.S. only once. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every ten years, beginning in 1790. The results are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2019) AND… the data determine how more than $675 billion are spent, supporting state, country, and community programs. (Eaton, 2019)

El censo cuenta a cada persona viviendo en los Estados Unidos solo una vez y en el lugar correcto. La constitución de los Estados Unidos requiere un censo cada 10 años, a partir de 1790. Se trata de representación justa. Los resultados son usados para redistribuir la Cámara de los representantes y así determinar cuántos asientos cada estado recibe. La información obtenida determina como mas de $675 billones de dólares serán gastados, apoyando estado, país y programas vitales en la comunidad.

Programs supported through census dollars include: Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare Part B, Highway Planning and Construction, Title I Grants to local education agencies, National School Lunch Program, Head Start / Early Head Start, Special Education Grants (IDEA), Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Foster Care (Title IV-E), WIC, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), Health center programs (community, migrant, homeless, public housing), Child Care and Development Fund – Entitlement, Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program (project-based), and Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP).

Your Information is Confidential!

The law requires the U. S. Census Bureau to keep the data they receive confidential. The responses can ONLY be used to produce statistics. Information is NEVER shared with immigration enforcement agencies such as ICE or law enforcement agencies such as the police or FBI. The information can NOT be used to determine a person’s eligibility for government benefits etc.

No information is ever released that could be used to identify the particular person it came from.

“Hard-to-Count Populations”

This census phrase refers to people who are hard to locate; households that may not appear on the Bureau’s address list, people who want to remain hidden, transient populations, undocumented immigrants, LGTBQ persons, mental/physical disAbilities, children under the age of five, racial and ethnic minorities, homeless persons, or those living in gated communities. This classification also refers to people who do not want to participate in the census because they lack trust in the government or distrust how their data is used. Language barriers and low literacy will also contribute to those deemed “hard-to-count.”

As the church, we can lift why census participation is critical to the Common Good. We can help reach those hard-to-count people and help them understand the link between the data collected and funding for programs that help so many vulnerable people.

Census data is essential to the betterment of our nation for today’s people and the next generation. Representation affects a state’s representation in government, the allocation of proper funding, and resources to areas of need. An accurate count empowers the people.

For more information about how your church can help, email Jannah Scott at Jannah.scott@2020census.gov. For general census information visit www.2020census.gov and https://www2.census.gov/about/partners/general/2020-partner-faith-community.pdf?#. Resources and flyers are available through these links as well as answers to other questions you may have.

References for this article:

  • United States Census 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.2020census.gov/en
  • Eaton, J. (2019, September 5). The Importance of the 2020 Census. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2019/census-impact-older-americans.html
  • 2020 Census Important For Gauging Senior Citizens Concerns. https://putnamridge.com/2020-census-important-for-senior-citizens-concerns/
  • 2020 U.S. Census (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.donaanacounty.org/Community-Constituent-Services/2020-US-Census

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Author: Billie K. Fidlin

Billie K. Fidlin is the Director of Outreach & Justice for the Desert Southwest Conference. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and attended Claremont School of Theology for religious studies. Ms. Fidlin currently serves as the President of the Arizona Faith Network in her second term. She is President & Founder of Whisper n Thunder Inc., and sits on various boards including the Justa Center and the Phoenix Police Department's Faith Advisory Council. Her awards include the UM Foundation for Evangelism 2004 Distinguished Evangelist; 2016 Church Women United / United Nations Human Rights Award; 2018 Servant Leader Award AZ Faith Network; 2022 Southern Poverty Law Center Certificate of Recognition; and 2022-23 Class of Who's Who in America.
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