Why Answer the Census? Redistricting and Federal Funding Allocation

Who doesn’t love a party? Imagine you are asked to host an 80th birthday party for your grandmother. You start thinking about the bright and flowery birthday cake you know she’ll love and all the balloons you’ll use to decorate and create a festive atmosphere. And then you start thinking about how many people will be at the party. How big should the cake be? What might be the ages of the people coming? Will you need some playpens for baby grandchildren or a few large, comfy chairs for some of Granny’s friends? How much and what kinds of food should you buy?

And then, when you ask your family for a guest list, no one will tell you. What?! How can you plan a successful party that way? This is why the United States Census is so important, but on a much larger and critical scale than a birthday party.

Taking a census is nothing new. In ancient Babylonia a census was recorded on clay tiles to determine how much food was needed for their population, and the Egyptians would count their citizens and workers to assist in planning the scale and number of pyramids they could build.

When the Founders of the United States ratified our Constitution, they required a census be conducted every 10 years; the first Census was held in 1790 and we follow this law to this day. The next United States Census will be held on April 1, 2020. The Census helps to determine how many people we have in our country in total and provides insight into where they live, their ages, and some basic information about their demographics.

In 2020, the Census will ask each household how many people live there, how many people may be staying in the dwelling temporarily, the ownership of the dwelling, telephone number (in case more information is needed by the Census Bureau), names, ages, dates of birth, gender, and race (note: not citizenship) of the people you listed, and their relationships to the main householder. The Census adheres to strict confidentiality rules

You can see the exact form in English and Spanish on the Census website.

So why should you fill out the Census?

  1. It’s required by the Constitution of the United States. 
  2. An accurate count ensures accurate representation in Congress for you.
  3. It helps enhance services that meet the needs of our population. Census data is a key element in determining where and how federal tax money is allocated such as: 
  • Healthcare: Medicaid, Medicare Part B, State Children’s Health Insurance, Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, Urban Indian Health Services
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Highway Construction, National Motor Carrier Safety, Federal Transit Grants
  • Housing: Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, Rural Rental Assistance Programs, Supportive Housing for the Elderly
  • Employment and Training: Unemployment Insurance, Career and Technical Education, Adult Education, Vocational Training Programs, American Indian and Alaska Native Employment and Training
  • Education: Preschool and Head Start Programs, Special Education Programs, Grants to Local and Rural School Districts, Pell Grants, School Lunch Programs
  • Family and Social Services: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Crime Victim Assistance, Adoption Assistance, Foster Care, Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Programs, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
  • Environment: State Wildlife Grants and Restoration, Assistance to Firefighters and First Responders, Hunter Education and Safety Program, Water Pollution Controls

The Denver Public Library will be holding Census information events over the next four months, so you can learn even more from Census experts.

So fill out that Census form to make sure you are counted! It makes a difference to you, your friends, and your family (including your grandmother) to ensure we can plan a bright and happy future for our country.

Thank you to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum for the photograph of the farmer and to the U.S. Census Bureau for the image of the Navajo family.

Questions? Ask Reference Services or call 720-865-1363 today!

Written by Maf on February 12, 2020