All children need certain things to thrive. Nutritious foods, access to health care, and the care of parents and other caregivers are just a few of the basics that can help children reach their full potential.
In the United States, numerous federal programs and services help families ensure their children’s needs are met – including children whose families have low incomes or who live in poverty. But, without an accurate count of our nation’s children, these programs may not get the resources they need to serve all the children and families who rely on them. That’s where the Census comes in.
Every 10 years, our nation counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. An accurate count is critical because, among other things, it helps policymakers decide how best to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to federal programs and to determine legislative districts.
Today, April 1, is Census Day. By now, you may have received official Census Bureau mail with information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail. Already, millions of households across the nation have responded, with an overall response rate so far of 34.7%. If you haven’t completed the 2020 Census already, we urge you to visit my2020census.gov to make sure your family is counted today!
Counting all young children is especially critical in the 2020 Census. Research shows that young children are undercounted at a higher rate than any other group. The 2010 Census missed about 5% of all children under age 5 – or about 1 million children.
Sometimes young children are undercounted because of their living arrangements (such as splitting time between two homes or living with a family member like an aunt or grandmother). Sometimes parents may not realize that babies and toddlers are supposed to be counted – but this year, all children born on or before April 1 should be counted. And sometimes the entire family is missed because of a language barrier or other challenge. But whatever the reason, one thing is clear: when young children are not counted, it can have serious consequences for them, their families and our communities.
For example, an undercount of young children can affect the distribution of funding to programs and services that make a difference in the lives of millions of young children and their families every day. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Fund all receive funding based on census data.
As an official partner of the 2020 Census, 1,000 Days believes it is critical that everyone is counted – including parents and their infants and toddlers. That’s why we’re thrilled to see the Census Bureau, advocates, and communities across the country working together to help make sure that everyone is represented equally in the 2020 Census.