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August 7, 2020
On July 31st, the Census Bureau announced it will cut short 2020 Census operations by ending in-person interviews and closing self-response options on September 30th. This announcement runs counter to Census Bureau needs. Over the last few months, the Census Bureau argued it needed to extend the deadline to October 31st in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which forced a suspension of in-person interviews and postponed key operations. This included the critical Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU) phase in which census takers traditionally visit more than 30 percent of households that have not responded on their own. The July 31st announcement also comes on the heels of President Trump’s order seeking to remove undocumented individuals from the Census count for apportionment purposes which serves to discourage households from responding to the Census and represents an attack on communities of color, immigrant families, refugees, and other groups.
A rushed Census will harm all New Yorkers – including children and families – undermining the accuracy of the Census and our constitutional right to be counted. Currently, there are low response areas in every part of the country, in every state, in every city. In New York State, only 58.7% of homes have responded to their Census, placing our state 38th in the country. In New York City, only 54.8% of households have responded. Many of these communities with low response rates are historically undercounted and at heightened risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 Census. With even lower response rates at the neighborhood level, it is critical for Census Bureau staff conducting NRFU and community organizers have the time and resources needed to ensure all New Yorkers are counted.
When families respond to the Census and count everyone in their households, it means more federal money for New York schools, for health care, for childcare, and for many other programs that help children thrive. In 2017 alone, more than $121 billion in funding was received by programs that children, families and communities rely on. Making sure every person is counted means New York communities get full representation in Congress. It also means our state and local governments across New York have better information to plan for things like the number of children in schools, how many families need health care, where businesses will grow and bring jobs, locations for libraries and parks, the number of childcare centers, and other important services and programs communities need.
Next week, Census Bureau workers will begin their door-knocking operations. Still, its efforts will take on an additional urgency with this recent announcement, despite the work being much more difficult due to COVID-19. A successful 2020 Census requires sufficient time and resources to count people who are at risk of being undercounted, including young children, and effectively follow-up with those who didn’t respond on their own. That task is a high bar under usual circumstances — but it’s even higher during a pandemic.
A failed Census fails the whole country. Rushing key census operations means losing out on billions of dollars for New York children and families for the next 10 years and our right to be counted.
It is vital that we protect the 2020 Census from political interference. The House of Representatives has already approved an extension of the 2020 Census operations as part of its most recent COVID relief package. You can Act Now by urging New York Senators Schumer & Gillibrand to help the Senate stay the course by agreeing to an extension provision for the 2020 Census in its next COVID relief package.
Act Now: Urge the U.S. Senate to Include an Extension for the 2020 Census In Its Next COVID Relief Package
If you have not completed your 2020 Census form, you can self-respond to the census online at my2020census.gov/ or over the phone in English by dialing 844-330-2020 or in Spanish at 844-468-2020.
Individuals with questions about the Census can call a number of toll-free national census bilingual hotlines offered by our partners to get additional information.
Partners can stay up to date on tools to continue to get out the count for young children and families by visiting www.cccnewyork.org/every-child-counts-nyc, by emailing Carlos Rosales at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by joining our e-mail list here.