FEB. 22, 2020 – Today, the U.S. Census Bureau hosted an event to highlight efforts to ensure all young children are counted in the 2020 Census. Children under five years old are among population groups historically undercounted in the census. The Census Bureau is making a concerted effort to address this issue by creating community partnerships, educational programs, awareness campaigns and operational innovations with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of counting young children.
During a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio, the Federation of Pediatric Organizations (FOPO), a 2020 Census partner, announced that March 25, 2020, is designated as Every Child Counts Day — a day when the pediatric community is encouraged to tell the adults they interact with about counting every child living in their homes in the 2020 Census.
“We are so happy that partners like the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, Sesame Workshop, United Way and others are so committed to ensuring every child is counted in the census. A decade is essentially a childhood,” said Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau. “Children today deserve the best possible health, education and community services. They can’t count themselves — they’re counting on you to count them.”
“FOPO’s focus in 2019-2020 is to ensure all kids get counted in the 2020 Census,” said Dr. Judy Aschner, chairperson, Federation of Pediatric Organizations. “Children zero to four are at the greatest risk of being undercounted, and many, many programs that support families, young children and communities depend upon an accurate count. A child undercount is a threat to pediatric research and the health and well-being of children.”
An accurate count of all children is critical for families, educators and their communities — and it’s important to count young children now so they have the resources they need for the next 10 years. The Census Bureau has formed partnerships with national and local organizations across the country in an effort to address the undercount of young children. In early March, the Census Bureau will launch a direct mail campaign reaching millions of households in areas at risk for undercounting children to emphasize the importance of counting everyone in the 2020 Census.
“It is vital every person is counted in the Census to ensure our community has the funds necessary to address the needs of the children and families who live in our city, and this is why United Way is committed to partnering to get the word out,” said Augie Napoli, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland. “One out of every two children in Cleveland now live in the worst poverty in the nation which is why it is essential they have access to the many programs — from educational and healthcare to food and nutrition — a fair and accurate census affords.”
“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. “We’re honored to work with the United States Census Bureau and alongside organizations like the United Way, the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Ad Council, and so many others at local and state levels across the country to reverse that equation and to do all we can together to make sure every child counts.”
In 2013, the Census Bureau assembled a task force to study the undercount of young children in the decennial census. In 2014, the Census Bureau released a report from the task force that summarized the results of its research and recommended more work to improve our understanding of the possible causes. Since then, the Census Bureau has been reviewing existing data sources that might provide insights into the circumstances that lead to young children being missed in censuses or surveys.
“Including young children in the 2020 Census is vitally important for them and for their communities because population statistics are used by lawmakers to determine how to spend billions of dollars in funds every year,” said Karen Deaver, who leads Census Bureau efforts to reduce the undercount of young children. “Child-focused programs like nutrition assistance, Head Start and the Children's Health Insurance Program rely on accurate data about where young children live to provide foundational services for children.”
There are many reasons why children are undercounted. Since there is no single cause for the undercount of young children, there is no single solution to the problem. However, the Census Bureau is pursuing multiple strategies to ensure the count of young children is as complete as possible, including:
In addition, the Census Bureau added language to the questionnaire to emphasize including children on their census with specific instructions to include unrelated children, foster children and grandchildren, and has improved census taker training materials to emphasize the importance of including children during interviews with nonresponding households. Everyone has the opportunity to shape the future of children they know. Start by counting every child in the home.
Today’s event, which was geared toward young children and their families, featured Sesame Street characters Rosita and The Count; Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, who hosted story time; and coloring pages from Molly of Denali. Census Bureau officials and key partners explained why it’s important to participate in the census and about the importance of counting everyone, including all young children, in their households. Event participants were encouraged to spread that message in their communities.
The event also highlighted the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools program that encourages teachers and adults to teach students why it is important to respond to the census. The program provides materials to teachers of all grades, including free activities, storybooks and even a song. The Census Bureau has sent every superintendent and principal across the country a toolkit to help raise awareness about the role the census plays in shaping students’ futures and those of their communities.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone who lives in the United States as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day). Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years. Beginning March 12, households will be able to respond online, by phone or by mail.