Did you know that the last time a census was conducted, children were dramatically underrepresented? According to Census.gov, undercounting children in the census has been going on for some time, and this year efforts are underway to include as many young children as possible in 2020's count.
This is super important and something all parents should be aware of. An accurate census count of kids is critical for making sure communities and families have the resources they need, and if kids aren't counted a community can feel the impact for a decade or more.
During the last census in 2010 America's children were undercounted by millions. It's estimated that about 2.2 million young kids were missed, which means their needs were invisible when government funding was being allowed for things like schools, Head Start and nutrition programs.
When a kid isn't counted their school can lose as much as $7,000 in funding for programs and reduced school lunch fees, and the number of kids missed during the last census is the "is the equivalent of missing all of the schoolchildren in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, and Maine combined," pediatricians Rose Ashraf, Carolyn N. Riker and Amanda M. Stewart note in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Missing kids in the count means these kids miss out on resources that can make them healthier and happier for years to come.
That's why Census Bureau is partnering with national and local organizations across the county to make sure parents hear about this and can act to prevent an undercount of children and why Sesame Street is involved in spreading the word about the importance of the census.
"What strikes us is the great irony that children who stand to benefit the most from an accurate census count are the ones most likely to go uncounted," said Tracy Garrett, assistant vice president of Government Affairs, Sesame Workshop.
The beloved show will use one of its characters to drive home the importance of ensuring all children are counted in the upcoming census report. Count von Count will take up the cause. According to reports, the character will join fellow Sesame Street favorites like Elmo to deliver public service announcements in both English and Spanish. This Sesame Street initiative is all about educating families about the importance of counting each child, and teaching them how to ensure their own kids are counted.
The children who are not counted are often kids in foster care, living in tough-to-access multi-unit homes, live in complex households (ie, with grandparents or other relatives) or in neighborhoods with high poverty rates. Children who are co-parented are also at risk. The kids in some of these circumstances are the kids who really need those resources. When you consider that nearly 1 million children under 5 were not counted in 2010, you realize what a major issue this is.
How we can make sure our kids are counted in the U.S. Census:
- Between March 12 and 20, 95% of American households will be getting an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census in their mail. Watch for this.
- The invitation in the mail will invite you to response either online, by phone or via a paper questionnaire.
- Responding online is easy, check out https://respond.census.gov/acs for instructions.
- Spread the word: the Census Bureau is trying to get the word out amid concerns about a lack of funding while fighting misinformation about the census. One of the most important things people can do is be armed with the facts so we can have conversations with our friends, families and neighbors about the importance of participating in the census.