The MLO Minute: By Nancy Potter, Esq.
The 2020 Census count impacts the federal funds that communities receive each year for programs and services that are critical for schools, students, and younger children, such as:
- Special education, Head Start, after-school programs, teacher training and classroom technology.
- Food assistance, including free and reduced-price school lunches.
- Maternal and child health programs.
You can do your part by completing your 2020 Census form to make sure every person living in your home is counted. It is important to count all children, but those under the age of 5 are often missed. When newborn babies and young children are not included in the census, support for programs such as health insurance, hospitals, childcare, special education, schools, and early childhood development is impacted. It is critical to get this count right for the 2020 Census. Young children are already at high risk of not being counted, research shows. The Annie E. Casey Foundation notes that the 2010 census “had the worst undercount since 1950, with nearly 5 percent of children under age 5—about 1 million kids—not counted.”
The 2020 Census helps determine how much money communities receive for the critical resources that children and families will depend on for the next 10 years—basically, an entire childhood! Knowing how many children there are and where they live is essential to getting those services and programs to them.
Why is the census critical to the students we serve? Census data determines the distribution of:
- More than $14 billion in Title I grants that help schools serve more than 24 million students from low-income families;
- $11.3 billion in special education grants to the states;
- About $13.6 billion for the National School Lunch Program;
- Plus funds for the Head Start preschool program and grants to improve teacher quality.
If some groups aren’t accurately represented in the census, it will be more difficult for their states to cover the needs that exist in their communities. The schools our clients attend could be underfunded, and the resulting lack of resources can negatively affect all students in the school.
The 2020 Census is happening now. You can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. More information is available at 2020census.gov .