Completing the 2020 Census is our chance to make sure the hard-earned tax dollars we send to Washington DC make their way back to our communities.
The results will determine political power, representation in Congress, and funding for important programs like WIC, Head Start, SNAP, school lunch programs, Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP), and Medicaid, as well as vital infrastructure like roads and bridges for the next 10 years.
For every adult and every child not counted in the census, Kansas will lose $1,539 in federal dollars each year. It is estimated that an undercount could cost Johnson County to lose over $10.5 million, and Wyandotte County could lose $4.7 million in total!
Unfortunately, certain population groups — referred to as hard-to-count —are at a higher risk of not being fully counted in the census. These include rural communities, communities of color, immigrants, young children, and low-income people.
Latinos are frequently undercounted. Confusion, distrust, and fear over discrimination and immigration status, will force many Latinos to be left out of the 2020 Census. Latinos are the nation’s second largest population group; it is critical for our economic, social, and civic well-being that they are not undercounted.
Language barriers, poverty, and low educational attainment require special attention. At El Centro, we aim to build an educated, healthy, financially empowered, and engaged Latino community.
Children under age 5 are also frequently undercounted. Latino children often live in a household with complex living arrangements in addition to other characteristics that increase risk of being hard-to-count.
Remember: everyone in your household, no matter their age, must be counted.
Concerns about data confidentiality, due to negative political rhetoric and federal detention, reduce participation in the census among immigrant communities. Answering the census is safe. By law, census data is confidential. Any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business cannot be shared with immigration or law enforcement agencies.
Whatever the reasons, an undercount of Latinos has a negative impact on the representation and health of the entire community.
So what can you do?
Census Day is April 1, 2020. In March, every household will receive instructions in the mail about how to complete the census. You can choose to respond online, by phone, or on a mail-in form. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Encourage your neighbors and friends to complete the census too. Remind them that fair investments in our communities, and fair representation of our communities in Congress, are based on an accurate count.
No internet? No problem. You can complete the census survey on paper or by phone. In fact, the Census Bureau will have people available by phone to help people who speak a language other than English, including Spanish.
El Centro will provide information and education of the use of census data and ease the concerns of Latinos in our communities. By providing information in their primary language and conducting outreach in places our communities frequents we can expand the reach of the local “Count Me In KC” campaign.
We will engage with communities by developing a comprehensive messaging plan that will include: social media campaigns in Spanish, community presentations, 1:1 community outreach, fact sheets, key point messaging training for volunteers, Promotoras ambassadors, and El Centro staff.
As an assistance point site, we will also work within all of our service and program areas to engage our clients about the census. Regardless if a client is entering our location for an appointment with emergency assistance, financial literacy, health navigation, insurance enrollment, SNAP enrollment, nutrition classes, or Know Your Right forums they will also receive information regarding the Census 2020, the importance of being counted, how the census information is used and how it benefits their family and communities, assisting with their completion of the census online as well.
¡Yo Cuento! ( I Count!)
Irene Caudillo is also a member of the 2020 Health Forward Board of Directors.