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The Impact of the Census on Communities: The New 2020 Vision

There is no doubt that we are experiencing one of the most unprecedented situations of our time – the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The coronavirus has caused significant disruption to the life we once had. Even though we have to adjust to a temporary situation, I wanted to share my thoughts on an important activity that we can all participate in right now to help with providing for our future and the future of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors – the 2020 Census.

Every ten years, as requested by the Founding Fathers of this country, the United States collects Census data to determine the number of people in the population so that funding for programs and services is distributed to towns across the country as evenly as possible. Communities do not benefit when the government does not include all citizens in the count. When this occurs, the government bases funding on a smaller population.

One way to help with the data collection process is to get involved! Check to see if your family members or friends have received the Census document. If they have not, direct them to the Census website or have them call 1-844-330-2020 to get the information needed to complete the 2020 Census. Even though we are experiencing a time when we cannot be around each other, we can still be available over the phone to assist family members or friends who may have questions about filling out the form. You can complete the form online, or you can fill out the hard copy you received in the mail and mail it back to the U.S. Census Bureau in the postage-paid return envelope. I will share more about the documentation later in this post.

I cannot stress enough how important the 2020 Census is to make sure that our communities receive adequate representation, services, programs, and funding necessary for us to move forward. I wanted to mention that I do not work for the U.S. Census Bureau; however, I believe in the importance of this for our communities. This time in history is crucial for all individuals so that communities receive the funding they need. You deserve to be part of the count – we deserve to part of the count.

Some of the community benefits from completing the Census include new schools, clinics, roads, and family services for adults and children. Funding sent to community benefit programs like Medicaid, Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), mental health services, hospitals, school lunch programs, fire departments, and other critical programs.

Our communities deserve the best that can be received, which includes proper congressional representation for our state. Yes, the Census indeed determines the number of seats each state gets in Congress, which connects to the allocation of votes from the U.S. Electoral College, which, as you know, plays a critical role in electing the President of the United States. I wanted to share this with you so that you would see how important the 2020 Census is and how everything is connected.

Not only do I talk the talk, but I also walk the walk. I completed the 2020 Census questionnaire online on behalf of my family and me in 8 minutes and 41 seconds. The same questions in the hard copy questionnaire are on the online form. It was straightforward to complete, and I received a confirmation at the end, which can be saved on your computer or printed. I must say I found that the online form was not overwhelming to complete. It is important to note that responding to the Census is required by law, and your answers will be confidential, as indicated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Now let me share something about voting. By now, we should all understand that everyone’s vote DOES count. This November will prove to be a critical turning point for us if we all work together to vote for individuals who have our best interests at heart. We are experiencing situations now that we have never experienced due to what is occurring with the current administration in government impacting us and the world negatively. Did anyone ever imagine we would be where we currently are at this point in life? There’s no need to guess why every vote counts in this country. We need to be vigilant in our activities by working together to create an environment that our children’s, children’s, children will be able to grow and thrive. So back to the 2020 Census – it is just as important as voting because it is a catalyst for having proper congressional representation for your state and the allocation of votes during an election from the U.S. Electoral College as previously mentioned.

To date, you should have received two 2020 Census mailings. The first mailing was the actual hard copy of the Census form to fill out. There were two options, in that mailing, for submitting your Census form. Option 1 provides information about completing the form online by entering your 12-digit Census ID printed on the front of your questionnaire. As I mentioned, I completed the Census this way, and it was straightforward to complete. Option 2 states that you can fill out the hard copy questionnaire and mail it back in the postage-paid return envelope. Another option is to call 844-330-2020 to get assistance with completing the Census form over the phone if you need to do it that way. We must do our part by completing the 2020 Census by April 1st.

If you don’t complete the Census by any of the methods mentioned, you will receive a reminder in the mail. Finally, for those who do not respond, Census Takers will begin going door-to-door to make sure that everyone is counted. They’re not going around to get into your business or to be nosy; they want to make sure to count everyone for the reasons mentioned. It’s vital to make sure all people are in the count. Concerning the Census, other facts/myths include questions and fears about citizenship and immigration status. The Census counts people in households, not your immigration status. The United States Code Title 13 privacy law mandates that individuals’ information is protected. This video provides details on the precautions taken to secure your data.

If you’re a family member or guardian of an individual with an intellectual/ developmental disability (I/DD), it is essential to note that over $800 billion in funding is available for distribution to many programs, including those that support individuals with I/DD. According to a brief from the National Disability Rights Network, Individuals with I/DD can be “hard-to-count” because of the difficulty in retrieving data due to “accessibility challenges” and “systemic inequalities.” For example, some individuals with I/DD do not have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet to enter the census data; therefore, there is a chance that they will not be in the count. Also, there is a myth that the government may cut financial benefits because of the personal data collected, which is false. Any information gathered for the Census determines funding for neighborhoods and programs and not individuals. An individual’s budget is safe and not a result of the Census data collected, and privacy laws protect individuals’ data.

Improvements have been made to the data collection process to help assure broader participation. For example, for visually impaired individuals, materials are available in Braille and large print. For those who are hearing impaired, call centers have Telephone Device for the Deaf technology (TDD) available. The number for those who use TDD equipment is 844-467-2020. Also, call centers will have representatives who speak 13 languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. If an individual with an I/DD has a guardian, then their guardian can complete the census document on their behalf.

At this challenging time in our history, although we are experiencing several threats, we still have hope. We need to use common sense in our movements and activities, have faith, listen to the experts, and pray to connect with God to get past this situation. We are resilient and mighty people, and we can get through this! Now that we must be still, our attention has become more focused. I’m sure you understand (and agree) that we are all in this together. Let’s work together to make good things happen for our families, friends, and neighborhoods.

I believe we have a beautiful future ahead of us! With the completion of the 2020 Census, our communities will receive what they truly deserve. Please stay positive! We are great when we move together as one unit – as one team – as one people! Peace and Blessings to you and your family, and I hope you remain safe and well during this time and always.

Live, laugh, love, and pray.

God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,

Antoinette

Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson

writingsbyasj@gmail.com

www.writingsbyasj.com

Blog:  www.livinginyourmoment.wordpress.com

Twitter:  @ASJthewriter

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“Empowering, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting your mind, body, and spirit!”

The U.S. 2020 Census logo is federally registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and it is the property of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Portions of this publication were adapted from the Community Living Education Project Mini-Updates eNewsletter, The Impact of the 2020 Census on Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Get Your #2020Vision On!, January 2020, Volume 11 Number 1, written by Antoinette S. Johnson.

Links to Article Information Above:

2020 Census webpage: https://2020census.gov/

Founding Fathers: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/about/census-constitution.html

Congressional Representation: https://www.census.gov/topics/public-sector/congressional-apportionment.html

U.S. Electoral College: https://www.archives.gov/electoral-college/allocation

U.S. Electoral College: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Electoral_College

Important Dates: https://2020census.gov/en/important-dates.html?cid=20010:%2Bcensus%20%2Bwhen:sem.ga:p:dm:en:&utm_source=sem.ga&utm_medium=p&utm_campaign=dm:en&utm_content=20010&utm_term=%2Bcensus%20%2Bwhen

Census Takers: https://2020census.gov/en/census-takers.html

10 Census Facts: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/05/809217188/10-census-facts-that-bust-common-myths-about-the-2020-u-s-head-count

U.S. Code Title 13: https://www.census.gov/history/www/reference/privacy_confidentiality/title_13_us_code.html

Privacy Protection: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/02/through-the-decades-how-the-census-bureau-protects-your-privacy.html

Video on Data Protection:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=qzmB5oJQ_z4&feature=emb_logo

Why the Census Matters Brief: https://www.ndrn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/People-with-Disabilities-Brief.pdf

National Disability Rights Network: https://www.ndrn.org/resource/why-the-census-matters-for-people-with-disabilities-a-guide-to-the-2020-census-operations-challenges/

Census Reps Speak 13 Languages: https://2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html

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