Stand Up and Be Counted
Although we are in only the eighth month, 2020 will be seared into our memory for a number of reasons, any of which would command our attention on their own in any other year. A pandemic not experienced in 100 years, a racial reckoning that continues to shape the culture, an economic downturn reminiscent of the Great Depression, and a national election exposing deep divisions. Taking place alongside these once unimaginable happenings is the 2020 census, at https://my2020census.gov/
, which is a process that impacts all of the events mentioned above.
Conducted every 10 years, the national census counts U.S. residents, collecting demographic and population data that determines congressional representation and federal funding to state and local governments. The census provides the basis for federal planning as it relates to population needs for the next decade. An undercount resulting from lower response rates means decreased investment, particularly in underserved communities and may not accurately reflect the political will of the population.
While this may sounds like a civics lesson, there is a direct impact to Nurture KC families beyond the political. The Mother and Child Health Services Block Grant is a federal-state partnership sharing the mission of improving the health and lives of the underserved. Two of the criteria for funding are size and income of the local population. This funding is critical to meet these goals:
- Reducing infant deaths
- Ensuring that quality health care is provided to mothers and children
- Increasing the number of low-income children who receive health assessments, diagnostic care and treatment
- Providing prenatal care
Another program that relies on the census to help determine funding allocation is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Knowing how many eligible children live in an area is necessary to receiving adequate SNAP benefits that are so critical to accessible, healthy food for the families we serve.
COVID-19 has presented a challenge in getting an accurate population count as door-to-door census outreach has been limited. The census deadline has been moved up to September 30, meaning less time to provide the information. The decreased response is especially felt in underserved communities as they are more likely to be skeptical of how the information may be used. Kansas City is no exception to this trend and our response rate lags behind the 2010 rate.
Please join me in reaching out to the communities you serve and get them counted! Our community’s health depends on it.
Executive Director, Nurture KC