You may have heard the buzz about the census survey every household in America fills out each decade, and it’s happening again this year. It’s a way to get a count of how many people reside in America to determine federal funding for all types of programs — including school planning, health care, roads, fire stations, services for veterans and transportation — and it has happened every 10 years since 1790.
Beginning in mid-March, you’ll receive a notification through the mail with instructions on how to access the 2020 Census Survey online. It’ll take you around 10 minutes to complete simple questions around the number of people in your household, their ages and gender, and more.
What happens if I don’t get counted?
The census ensures a more equitable distribution of billions of dollars of funds, impacting key programs that benefit everyone living in America. An accurate count helps reduce class size and provide programs for students with special needs, which in turn allows educators and school districts like DPS to be able to better address the needs of every child. Funding is also used for programs that have shown lasting, positive effects on children, including preschool options for low-income Denver families, free and reduced-priced lunch, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and even SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; formerly known as food stamps).
It also impacts Title I funding, which is used to improve curriculum, programs and counseling services in schools, and serves students who are migrant, homeless, at-risk or with limited English proficiency, and is a key funding source for providing equitable opportunities to our most vulnerable students.
The Head Start program, which provides developmental programs to low-income children to teach things like reading and math, is dependent on the census for an equitable distribution of money.
Foster care programs. Section 8 housing. Childcare assistance — all impacted by the census.
An accurate count means stronger political representation for communities, as legislative district lines are drawn and state representative seats allocated based on data. It is estimated that Colorado’s population has grown by 12% since the 2010 Census, which means there is a possibility an eighth Congressional seat could be added for our state.
Everyone — including babies and toddlers — should be counted.
Since the census only happens once every 10 years, missing even just one individual can have a lasting financial impact on an area. If that person is a baby or a young child — which is an age many households do not think to count — the impact can last for their entire childhood, affecting the education opportunities available in their region.
The most inclusive census yet
You can answer the census questions online or by phone in English and in 12 other languages. Additionally, there will be language assistance guides and videos available in 59 more languages, including Braille and American Sign Language.
There will be many places in the community to access the survey through free computer access, including libraries.
Every person is entitled to be counted.
It is important to keep in mind, the census directly ties to our country’s ability to give equitable access to resources, including for our immigrant communities. The U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked a plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. Survey responders will not be asked if they are American citizens.
Answers to the Census are completely anonymous and confidentiality is protected by law, which means your responses will not be shared with anyone, including law enforcement or government agencies.
Ultimately, you can help shape our community and our schools by participating in the 2020 Census. For more information, visit census.gov.