Have you heard about the 2020 Census? The next Census is April 1, 2020, and here at Child Care Resources Inc., we’re working to educate the community about why it’s so important to residents of Mecklenburg County.
The Census is a count of every resident of the United States required by the U.S. Constitution. We only get one chance in a decade to get a complete count, and yet so many resources are dependent on the Census. The more accurate the count, the more our community can benefit from these resources.
Why it Matters to Our Community
The U.S. government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds each year based on Census data. In one year, North Carolina received nearly $24 billion dollars through federal spending programs guided by Census data. On a per-capita basis, that’s more than $2,000 dollars per North Carolina resident per year, or $20,000 dollars per resident over a decade.
The amount of federal child care subsidy funding CCRI administers for Mecklenburg County children and families is determined by the Census. Similarly, funding for many of CCRI’s child care quality improvement initiatives is determined by the Census.
The education of our children is dependent on the Census in other ways as well. The resources children need beyond child care, including teachers, textbooks, and other educational expenses, are supported by federal dollars distributed using Census data.
Other local organizations and businesses also use Census data to plan for the future. For example, the Charlotte Area Transit System recently used Census data to help redesign the entire bus network. The result has been improved connections to employment and better service to low-income populations.
Business owners also use data from the Census to research their customers, to write and revise business plans, and to secure funding. Atrium Health has opened 17 urgent care locations in the past 10 years, using population estimates and demographic data derived from the Census in their planning to determine where the new facilities should be located.
And we can’t forget political representation. Our number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on Census data. North Carolina currently has 13 seats; we may gain an additional seat if the 2020 count is complete. In 2010, the last Census, North Carolina likely missed gaining a congressional seat by only 15,800 people. That’s less than a quarter of the capacity of Bank of America Stadium!
With all of this at stake — federal funding; education; local planning for things like child care, transportation, business, and health care; and political representation — you can see why the Census is so important for our community.
How the Census Works
In mid-March, people will begin receiving letters in the mail inviting them to complete the Census by April 1, 2020, online, by phone, or by paper copy. The online response will be in 13 languages, and the U.S. Census Bureau will also have print and video language guides in 59 languages including American Sign Language, braille, and large print guides. In late March and early April, reminders will go out. Then in May, the Census will begin following up in person with those who have not responded.
The Census counts everyone — regardless of their age, citizenship status, or where they were born. Responses will be safe, confidential, and secure, as they are protected by federal law. Answers will only be used to produce statistics like the examples mentioned above. For privacy reasons, individual responses are not released for 72 years. That means your responses won’t be available until 2092!
Do Your Part to Make it Count
So how can you help ensure a complete count in the 2020 census? First, you can participate, for you and your family, as soon as you get your letter in the mail. Second, you can help spread the word — right now — and encourage others to participate when the counting begins in March.
Remember: The Census is convenient, safe, required, and important. A complete count will help bring important resources to our community. Together, we can help shape the future of Mecklenburg County!