Census 2020 – Every Child Counts: Remembering Betty Bardige

It is with deep sadness that I share with you the unexpected passing of Betty Bardige, a long-time Touchpoints board member and a tireless advocate for children and families. The Brazelton Touchpoints Center has been asked by several partner organizations about what family-facing nonprofit organizations can do to help ensure an accurate census.  As Betty reminded me just a few weeks before her death, it is vital that all children and families be counted, and, she insisted, all childcare providers too.

The people counted this spring -or not – will determine your local community’s share of nearly $900 billion per year in federal funding for schools, roads, public health, SNAP, CHIP, school breakfast and lunch, and other services.  The data collected by the census will also shape political representation in Congress and state legislatures.

It has never been more important for organizations that care about children and families to ensure every child and family is counted.  For most of the past decade, Congress and the Administration have cut Census Bureau budgets.  Inadequate funding, combined with increased reliance on online data collection, and fears over how census data may be used, are driving deep concerns that the Census Bureau may undercount children and families that are economically disadvantaged, residents who speak English as a second language, immigrants, and others that may be unable or unwilling to share information.

In your nonprofit organization roles, you can assist in providing information to families about the census, helping them understand what it is, how the information collected will be used, and why it is so important to be sure they are counted.  Some families may be afraid to provide information or to interact with census workers.  It is important to know that the census does not include any questions about immigration status, that data collected through the census cannot be shared with immigration enforcement agencies or law enforcement agencies, and cannot be used when determining any individual’s or family’s eligibility for government benefits. The census is also quick and easy to fill out.

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center is pleased to provide the following resources to help you help the families you work with feel as safe and confident as possible so that they and their children are properly counted.  Census Day takes place on April 1, but most households can start participating around mid-March, when letters with instructions are scheduled to be sent to 95 percent of homes around the country.  Data collection will be continue over the course of about six weeks, at which point the data inputting phase of the 2020 Census will be completed.

Resources:

Census Advocacy:  What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

This brief from Bolder Advocacy is a great place to start for nonprofits interested in improving the accuracy of the 2020 census, providing additional background on the serious problems caused by undercounting disadvantaged communities, and offering introductory steps that nonprofits can take to help ensure complete counts in their communities.

Mapping Families that the Census or Your Non-Profit May Find Hard to Count

What is the likelihood of an undercount in the communities you work in?  Mapping Hard to Count (HTC) Communities for a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census has an interactive map highlighting how much of an area’s population may be at risk of an undercount based on prior community response rates.  The map also shows how people in different areas will be contacted by the Census Bureau.

Community Outreach Toolkit and Targeted PSAs

The official United States Census 2020 website has a partner toolkit focused on community outreach that is designed to help organizations identify the barriers to participation in local communities and apply evidence-based practices to better connect with individuals facing common challenges.  The toolkit includes shareable graphics highlighting the fact that data collected through the census cannot be shared with immigration enforcement agencies or law enforcement agencies, and cannot be used when determining eligibility for government benefits.

Looking for video resources?  The official PSA toolkit has several short, informational videos covering how to take the census, how census data will be secured and used, and more, along with PSAs appealing directly to immigrants, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders.  A complete list of official census materials can be found here.

Get Out the Count Toolkit

The Get Out the Count Toolkit from Census Counts 2020 is meant to provide community-based organizations and other stakeholders with information on the importance of the census and tools to help ensure its accuracy.  Included in the background materials are fact sheets examining the risks and adverse outcomes of undercounting the following hard-to-count communities:  Middle Eastern and North African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and young children and their families.

Language Guides

The Census Bureau recently released census guides in 59 different languages with instructions on how to complete the census.  These guides include a brief overview of the purpose of the census and the confidential nature of the data collected before providing step by step directions for respondents.  Video language guides will be made available soon.

We hope this information is helpful to you and the communities in which you work.  Thank you for all you do to help lift up the voice of children and families.