In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. The census only happens once every 10 years, so it is likely to generate interest in our local community and beyond. Below are some basic facts about the census. In the coming weeks, we will post more information on our district website, including links to handouts in other languages.
What Is the 2020 Census?
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The law requires the U.S. Census Bureau to keep information confidential.
Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire. Once the invitation arrives, responses may be sent online, by phone or by mail.
Counting every person living in the United States is a massive undertaking, and efforts begin years in advance. Here’s a look at some of the key dates along the way:
- January 21: The U.S. Census Bureau starts counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially begins in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
- March 12 – 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail.
- March 30 – April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
- April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
- April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
- May – July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
- December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
- March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
How the 2020 Census Affects Children
The 2020 Census count impacts the federal funds that communities receive each year for programs and services that are critical for schools, students and younger children, such as:
- Special education, Head Start, after-school programs and classroom technology.
- Food assistance, including free and reduced-price school lunches.
- Maternal and child health programs.
Participating in the census is required by law, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community, because the results of the 2020 Census will affect community funding, congressional representation and more.