The U.S. Census starts today (Thursday.) The official count is to record where all Americans are on April 1st, 2020. But those who want a head start can fill out the short 10-question form on-line at My2020Census.Gov starting today. Local coordinators in the Interior are pushing hard with public events to raise awareness of the count.
The online Census site is live today. Alysha Childs, Complete Count Committee Coordinator for the Fairbanks North Star Borough says Alaskans are likely to prefer using the online option … to opening their doors to enumerators later this spring.
“To do that you go to My2020Census.gov. It’s very quick; it takes about 10 minutes, and it’s about 10 questions and it has 10 years of impact for the community.”
For households that do not respond on line or on the phone, enumerators will come to those homes starting May 1st.
One of the most undercounted groups in the last Census was children.
“It’s estimated that about 5% of kids did not get counted in the 2010 Census. And kids under the ages of five are the most under-counted population.”
The Complete Count Committee held a couple of kids’ events this week in order to reach young parents.
On Tuesday, Fairbanks City Mayor Jim Matherly led kids on a counting scavenger hunt and Yesterday North Pole city mayor Mike Walsh read a storybook about the Census to kids at the North Pole Library.
“Everybody counts. I count, you count, your family counts too. That’s what they try to do every 10 years, we count people who live everywhere, so we’ll know how big of a country we are.”
Juliet Shepard, a consultant with Shepard et al. and a volunteer for Interior Counts, the local Complete Count Committee talked with parents about the importance of answering the Census.
“Many people aren’t even aware – have never even heard of the Census. I think I found that to be the most striking observation.”
She explained that Census data are used to figure out legislative districts, where schools should be, and planning for businesses. Alysha Childs says the data also determine federal funding to the states.
“Over $675,000,000,000 in federal funding is distributed based on Census data.”
She says funding for healthcare, roads, schools, social services, and nutrition programs are all impacted by Census numbers; if a community is undercounted, it will have to bear that funding shortage for the next 10 years before it can be corrected.
In addition to the My2020Census.gov site going live today, Census phone lines are open for those who don’t have internet access. That number is (844) 330-2020.
The Interior Counts Complete Count Committee is made up of representatives from the all over the community including Fairbanks North Star Borough, City of Fairbanks, Fairbanks Economic Development Corps, the School District, UAF, United Way of the Tanana Valley, thrivAlaska, Resource Center for Parents and Children, and the Morris Thompson Cultural Center.