The census only happens every 10 years and we need your help to get everyone counted in 2020. The data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed, number of congressional seats, and redistricting of all levels of government.
These numbers can potentially affect federal funding for LIHEAP, Head Start, Medicaid, WIC, SNAP and other vital programs. This is why Fresno EOC and local organizations are engaged in 2020 Census outreach; because we know that if people are undercounted, residents in California and our communities will be negatively impacted for years to come.
What is Fresno EOC’s role in the 2020 Census? Fresno EOC’s role is to educate and encourage community members to be counted. As trusted messengers, staff are encouraged to speak to their clients and participants on why filling out the census is important.
As included in general outreach, Fresno EOC will offer Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) and Questionnaire Assistance Kiosks (QAKs) for the public to utilize. QAKs will offer technology for individuals to fill out their questionnaire online while QACs will also provide technology with support from trained staff.
Fresno EOC is engaged in the Fresno County Complete Count Committee. This is a volunteer committee comprised of community-based organizations, key stakeholders and concerned citizens. Committee members are census ambassadors. They raise awareness and build momentum in their communities as the 2020 Census approaches. They are not employed by the Census Bureau.
What’s at stake for California? An undercount of any kind could mean loss of funding to support necessary programs and possibly losing one of California’s 53 congressional seats. Estimates say a severe undercount could cost California billions, at about $2,000 per person annually.
How do I know my information is safe and confidential? The Census Bureau is required by law to protect respondents and their answers under Title 13 of United States Code of Laws. These are laws that provide protection for those filling out their census questionnaire. Responses are to remain confidential and no identifiable information may be shared with any individuals, businesses, organizations or even other law enforcement agencies. Individual records are, by law, confidential for 72 years and all Census Bureau staff are sworn in to protect every responder’s information.
What are trusted messengers? Trusted messengers are individuals, groups, businesses and/or agencies who are seen as reliable sources in the community. These are trusted sources who usually have a closer connection with hard-to-count groups. Trusted messengers play a vital role in the census because of their ability to educate, inform and conduct outreach to those least likely to respond.
What groups are least likely to respond to the census? Hard-to-Count Groups are those who have historically been undercounted and are the least likely to fill out their census questionnaire. There are often barriers and reasons as to why these groups are hesitant to respond.
Hard-to-Count (HTC) Groups fall under many categories and include:
- African Americans
- Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders
- Native Americans & Northern Africans
- Immigrants & Refugees
- People With Disabilities
- Areas with low internet subscription rates or low/no access to internet
- Homeless Individuals & Families/Non-Conventional Housing
- Seniors/Older Adults
- Children 0-5
- Households with Limited English Proficiency
When is Census Day? Census Day is on April 1, 2020. By this day every household should have received an invitation on how to respond online, by phone or by mail. When filling out the questionnaire you are stating where you live and who is in your household as of April 1, 2020.
How will the 2020 Census be different than 2010? A lot has changed over the past 10 years. For the first time people will be invited to fill out their census online, by phone or by mail. The Census Bureau also plans to use public data to cut down on the number of home visits to nonresponding households.
What happens if I don’t fill it out? If you chose to not fill out your census questionnaire by April, expect a Census Bureau employee to follow up with you. If they are unable to reach you at your home, staff will have to rely on public data available to them. This information might be outdated and perhaps not represent the current number of people living in your household. Without an accurate count of households the government is unable to verify the needed resources and services your community needs.
What can you do to ensure your community is counted? Encourage your friends and family members to fill out their questionnaire. If they are unsure, remind them why it’s important, what’s at stake and the confidentiality of their responses. If we all work together we can ensure as many households are counted by April 1, 2020.