WHAT IS THE CENSUS? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The U.S. Constitution requires a count every 10 years of every person living
in the United States.
Census results determine how the federal government allocates more
than $800 billion each year for services that communities rely on, like
Head Start, food assistance, and the Library Services and Technology Act.
Census data also determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as in state and local governments.
Historically, certain groups of people have been disproportionately undercounted in the census, including young children, people of color and
indigenous people, and people experiencing homelessness.
If the census misses people, undercounted communities won’t get fair funding for critical programs, and officials won’t have the reliable information they need to make decisions.
HOW WILL THE 2020 CENSUS WORK?
Beginning on March 12, 2020, the Census Bureau will mail every
household in the United States an invitation to respond to the census,
including a new option to respond online.
In areas without reliable mail delivery or traditional mailing addresses,
Census Bureau staff will visit households in person instead.
The Census Bureau will use other methods to count people in group living
situations, such as college dorms and military bases, and people experiencing
April 1 is known as “Census Day,” although households can respond before or after that date.
Households will receive several mailings from the Census Bureau in March and April 2020.
Beginning in May 2020, Census Bureau staff will visit households that have not yet responded to collect their responses in person.
The U.S. Census and Children
LIBRARIES ARE VITAL PARTNERS in promoting a complete count
of young children in the 2020 Census.
Children under age 5 were the most undercounted age group in the 2010 Census, with more than 2 million estimated to have been missed When young kids are missed in the Census, their communities lose needed funding for schools, libraries, children’s health insurance, and other critical programs. Public and school libraries can play important roles to help achieve an accurate and inclusive count of young kids.
WHY ARE YOUNG CHILDREN MISSED IN THE CENSUS?
The Census counts every person living in the United States, including newborns and babies. People are counted at the address where they live and stay most of the time, or if they don’t have a permanent residence,
at the address where they are staying on April 1, 2020.
However, sometimes people don’t return the Census questionnaire or don’t
realize that the young kids staying in their household should be included.
Children are more likely to be missed in the Census if:
• They live in large and complex households (such as blended families,
multi-family or multi-generational households).
• They live with single parents or young parents between
the ages of 18–29.
• They are not the biological or adopted child of the householder.
• They live with their grandparents, aunts or uncles,
or other family members.
• They live with adults who do not speak English well
or their family includes immigrants.
• They live in low-income families.
• Their families rent rather than own their home.
Some communities are at greater risk of being undercounted. In the 2010 Census, black and Hispanic young
children were missed twice as often as non-Hispanic white young children
HOW WOULD AN INACCURATE CENSUS AFFECT YOUNG KIDS?
The 2020 Census results will determine how more than $800 billion in federal funding is allocated each year to states and communities for programs like Head Start, WIC, and school lunch.
Schools, childcare, and other programs also need accurate Census data to plan for future needs.
The effects of the 2020 Census will last for a decade—for young children, nearly their entire childhood!