Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau conducts the census. The census counts the population of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
The census gives us a snapshot of what America currently looks like: who is living here, where they live, and more. The results of the census help lawmakers determine the needs of the people they represent and where billions of dollars of federal funding is allocated.
Why The Census Matters To Children's Health
One of the biggest impacts the census has is on the health of children. Many programs that aide in the health of children, such as Medicaid, Head Start and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, receive funding amounts based on the results of the census. If these programs are underfunded, the health of many children can be impacted for their entire childhood.
It is important to note that children are one of the most commonly undercounted groups when the census is done. The Census Bureau estimated that more than 1 million children between the ages of 0 and 4 were not counted in the 2010 census.
There are many reasons children may be at risk of not being counted in the census. People may not know that they are supposed to count them. Children sometimes live in multiple households, so caregivers may not know which household to count them in. For example, a young child may equally split their time between their mom and dad’s household. In this case, the household where the child was on April 1 is the household that should count them.
It is estimated that the states of Indiana and Illinois will lose more than $10,000 for every person missed in the census count over the next decade. Counting hard to reach populations, like our children, helps everyone live healthier lives and ensures they get access to services they need.
Every home should receive an invitation to complete the census by April 1, 2020. This year, the census has nine questions. Households can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail. For more information about the census, go to 2020census.gov.
By Autumn Clark, MPH
Community Health Improvement Coordinator