By Alli Zomer, Director of Operations
There is a truly momentous thing happening in America in 2020, something that is sure to shape our government for many years to come. An event filled with door knocking, ad campaigns and witty slogans. No, I am not talking about the election…I am talking about the census!
Every ten years, the federal government is required to count us, all of us. That may seem like a simple task, but it is a far cry from counting the green and speckled frogs my kids are so fond of (for the record, there are 5 of them). The census is a massive, complicated task. A huge team of people (called enumerators) hit the streets and literally knock on doors to try to understand how many people live in the US. In addition to those face to face counters, people can submit their census forms in the mail and, for the first time in history, online.
Census geeks will spend hours talking about the process, the methods and the data. But for most of us, there is a much simpler question that comes to mind: why does it matter? The results of the census are a pretty big deal for all of us, and especially for our children, for a few reasons:
The census determines how many seats each state has in the US House of Representatives, as well as the voting districts for state and local government. For Minnesotans to have our voices heard, this representation is vital.
Census data is what lawmakers use to decide how much money is spent in local communities. And when it comes to our children, everything from school lunch to healthcare to food assistance to childcare subsidy support relies on census data. We know that children and families in our community rely on these resources, and an accurate census helps to ensure that children get the support they deserve.
The government relies on census data to plan roads, schools, hospitals and more. By knowing who is in our community, lawmakers can create better plans that meet their needs.
Knowing that all these important things are tied to the results of the census (and stay in place for 10 years until the next count), it is important to make sure everyone is counted. Unfortunately, children are one of the most undercounted groups across the country. They often get missed, which means that we lose out on the representation and the resources our children and families need. So, as we head into the spring, think of it as census season, and make sure that your family is counted!