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Everyone Counts: Census 2020 resources

Every ten years, every person residing in the country has an opportunity to have their voice be heard and be counted.

The census determines congressional representation, helps determine how federal funds flow into states and provides information that will impact our community for the next decade!

It is simple. Most of us should have received mail from the U.S. Census Bureau. The letter contains your household’s Census ID number to be used when filling out the census online at http://my2020census.gov.

Simply go to the website, click the “start questionnaire” button on the right side of the screen and answer the questions. It should take no more than a couple minutes per person.

Would you rather respond by phone or mail? No problem – a paper questionnaire will be sent to your home soon if you have yet to respond online.

The information you provide will impact our community every day – from influencing highway planning to determining how money is allocated to public school programs.

Please take time to help shape our future. Your response matters!

– from Laurie Sedio, Executive Director of Metropolitan Family Services Midway 

Why is the census important?

Census counts are tied to federal funding for things like roads, hospitals, schools, police, Medicare, SNAP benefits, housing, unemployment insurance, government-funded organizations like Metropolitan Family Services, and more.

The census also determines the number of congressional seats each state gets. For every person who isn’t counted in the census, Illinois loses between $1,400 – $1,800 per year in federal funding for the next decade. That’s why it’s crucial that every resident who is alive on April 1, 2020 gets counted.

There will NOT be a question asking about citizenship on the 2020 Census. The Census is an effort to collect a population count, not citizenship data.

How do I know my answers will be kept confidential and not used by other government agencies? 

  • Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies.
  • The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.
  • The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home. Your answers cannot be used for law enforcement purposes or to determine your personal eligibility for government benefits.
  • Learn more about Census confidentiality here: ENGLISH | ESPANOL

How will the census work?

You will receive an invitation to complete the census in the mail between March 12-20. The invitation will include instructions for how to complete the census online. Translation services are available in 59 languages.

If you haven’t completed the online form by April 8, then you’ll receive a questionnaire in the mail. The last day to complete the census form is July 31.

Click here for a sample questionnaire.

Going online to complete the Census:

  • You must complete your questionnaire once you begin. If you leave the questionnaire and return later, you will have to start over.
  • Do not use the web browser buttons (back, forward, or close browser). Use the buttons within the questionnaire to navigate.
  • For best results, use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. Enable cookies.

Counting your children in the Census:

Responding to the 2020 Census can help shape resources for children and their communities over the next decade. This could include support for health insurance programs, hospitals, child care, food assistance, schools, and early childhood development programs.

If you have children in your home, make sure they are counted in the right place.

  • The general rule is: Count children in the home where they live and sleep most of the time, even if their parents do not live there.
  • If you’ve just had a baby, and your baby is still in the hospital on Census Day (April 1, 2020), then count your baby at the home where he or she will live and sleep most of the time.
  • If children spend time in more than one home, count them where they stay most often. If their time is evenly divided, or if you do not know where they stay most often, count them where they are staying on April 1, 2020.
  • If you are helping to take care of a friend’s or family member’s child, and the child does not have a permanent place to live, count the child if he or she is staying with you on April 1, 2020—even if it’s only temporary.

How can I avoid scams?

Scammers will use the census as an opportunity to target vulnerable populations, so it is important to be vigilant. If a census taker comes to the door, be sure to check for a U.S. Census Bureau photo ID badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

A legitimate census taker will never solicit money or donations, ask you to support a political party, threaten jail time, or ask for sensitive information such as your social security number, bank account or credit card numbers.

KEY RESOURCES

  • US Census Bureau: 2020census.gov
  • IL Count Me In: ilcountmein2020.org
  • TEXT 987-987 in English or Spanish to reach an Illinois Help Desk with information about how to respond to the Census, how info is kept confidential, and other general information.

DID YOU KNOW?

We’re collecting resources specific to populations we serve; keep checking back as we add more information!

CHILDREN UNDER FIVE COUNT

Census Facts About Children Under Five

  • In 2010 the undercount for children under five was about 1 million.
  • Illinois saw about a 3%-4% total undercount with about 11,000 children from within Cook County

SENIORS COUNT
Key Resource: AgeOptions 2020 Census Resources

Seniors will be harder to count in this 2020 Census. For the first time ever, the census will be conducted primarily online, which presents barriers to seniors who may not have access or be comfortable using the internet.

Program Supervisor Loren Buford shares her perspective on the importance of the Census:

“I attended an Advocacy Breakfast in Aurora last month, sponsored by AgeGuide, where local agencies and legislators came together to discuss the issues impacting older adults aging at home, their caregivers and families. The 2020 Census was a big item of discussion.

The information that sticks with me is that for every one person missed by the census, Illinois will lose $1800 per year. So that’s more than $18,000 per year for every person that is not counted. When a budget is passed, it is based on the number of people living in that county.

It is imperative that we make certain every single person is counted, so that all people of all ages, despite economic or health status, will receive the services they need.”

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