This column originally appeared in Michigan Advance on January 18, 2020
A lot can change in a decade — as anyone who has seen the “10-year challenge” on social media knows. Children grow from toddlers to pre-teens, teenagers “glow-up” into twenty-somethings.
As kids throughout Michigan grow over the next 10 years, they’ll need schools and libraries to learn, clinics and hospitals to keep them healthy, and parks and playgrounds to explore.
The money for these good things is often determined by population — how many kids and families are in a neighborhood, town or city.
In a few months, we will get to participate in the 2020 Census. The count from the census will determine federal funding for the next 10 years — for hospitals, roads, food, education, housing and more. Many private investment and business decisions are also made using census numbers.
That’s why it’s crucial that we make sure to count everyone in Michigan this April. If we miss children in our community, that means we miss out on dollars for schools, clinics and economic development over the next 10 years — the majority of their childhoods.
So, will you take our version of the 10-year challenge and help us #CountAllKids?
- Apply to be a census taker: You can get paid for this one! Michigan is in need of census takers. In most Michigan counties, the Census Bureau has met less than 60% of recruiting goals — meaning there are plenty of open positions available with competitive pay and flexible hours. Many of us are skeptical when someone we don’t know knocks on our door. If that person is a friend or neighbor, we’re more likely to answer. Census takers who live in the community they’re working in increase census participation and ensure a complete count. Michigan also opted into a waiver that means temporary income from census employment will not alter eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and food assistance. This was part of a strategy to improve hiring and make sure census workers experience a boost to their economic security.
- Have the facts: Make sure to spread the word that…
- There is no citizenship question on the form
- The census counts all residents regardless of citizenship status
- All personal data is confidential and legally prohibited from being shared with anyone— including law enforcement, a landlord or immigration officials
- The form only takes about 10 minutes to complete
- People can take the census online, by phone or by paper
- Language assistance is available
- It’s vital to count everyone in the household — even if they’re only staying with you temporarily, and especially young children who are often left off of forms.
- Organize or join a complete count committee: Across the state, people recognize the importance of the census and are bringing together stakeholders to get a complete count. Get tapped into existing efforts or start your own.
- If you’re a small business or service provider, put out census 2020 materials: A variety of resources — posters, handouts, public service announcements, coloring pages and more — can be used in waiting rooms and at front desks to get out the word about the importance of the census.
- Share why the census is important to you: Make the connection for family, friends and networks why getting a complete count matters for you and your family.
Census Day is April 1. You can use the latest Kids Count data and other resources now to plan outreach and help us achieve a complete count across the state this year.