Everyone Counts

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

On April 1, 2020, the official Federal census will take place. It’s coming quickly and it’s very important to everyone who lives in the U.S.  The census takes place every ten years and is vitally important that everyone be counted including those who may not be citizens or even have legal papers to be in the country.  Why is it important that everyone be counted?

The census data is used at the Federal level:

  • To reapportion seats in the House of Representatives.
  • For state officials to redraw congressional and legislative districts based on population shifts.
  • To determine how to allocate more than $675 billion in Federal dollars supporting state and local community programs across the country.

This $675 billion is used for schools, hospitals, Head Start, WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), Solid Waste Management Grants, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Native American Training and Employment and other programs for healthcare, education, housing, food and income security.  The amount given to a city or state for those programs depends on the number of individuals living in those cities/states based on the census count.

Unfortunately, some of the very people who are most impacted by the programs may be missed in the counting. These include children under five, low income households, immigrants, and rural residents.  Many people in these populations distrust the government and fear that they will be in danger from giving their information. The reality is that Census Data is required by law to be confidential. Individual responses cannot be shared with other government agencies but must be reported in statistical summary format only.  Other government agencies will not be given this information.

This is the first year that the census will be conducted on-line.  Invitations will be mailed to households with instructions on how to respond.  One person from each household will respond for all the members of the household. In our motherhouses and care centers, the administrators will submit information for each of the residents.  As a general rule, individuals will be counted where they live regardless of their relationship with the owner of the house or person submitting the information.

If you know or work with someone who is hesitant to respond to the census, please share this information with them and encourage them to be counted.  Everyone deserves to be counted!

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

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