Low 2020 Census Response Rates Have Consequences: Children and Communities Can Lose Critical Federal Funding

Children and Communities Can Lose Critical Federal Funding

Children are likely to be among the most undercounted in the 2020 Census, the once-a-decade population count of everyone who lives in the country.

According to an analysis of statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and 2020 Census response rates, households with children under five in Cleveland currently have low response rates to the 2020 Census.

Specifically, Cleveland neighborhoods that have over 10% households with children have a response rate of 49.7%, compared to the 63.5% response rate of neighborhoods that have under 5% of households with children.

That’s why the Census Bureau is making an extra effort to urge parents, grandparents, foster parents, and other caregivers to be sure to include all children in a household when they respond to the 2020 Census—including babies born on or before April 1, 2020, even if they were still in the hospital.

Through partnerships with children-focused groups from Nickelodeon to Wonderama, and Molly of Denali and Daniel Tiger, the Census Bureau is trying to educate young children and their families about the importance of the census and the impact it will have on their lives.

In February, the Census Bureau hosted a kid-friendly event at the Great Lakes Science Center to raise awareness about the importance of counting everyone – particularly young children – in the census.

And through the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program, educators, parents/caregivers, and students have access to hundreds of free materials to learn about the importance of the 2020 Census and how it can shape our future.

Not many people realize the impact the census has on local communities. Census data determines how much money communities receive for the critical resources like schools and education programs. Community programs for health insurance, hospitals, food assistance, SNAP/WIC, and early childhood development programs are all informed by Census data.

The Census Bureau estimates that in 2010, one million children under age 5 were not counted.

Children at risk of not being counted in the census tend to live in multigenerational or extended family housing, with foster families,  or in homes with limited English. They may also be left out of the count if their families have recently moved or do not have a permanent home.

Cleveland’s current response rate is behind other cities in Ohio such as Columbus (58.2%), Cincinnati (52.1%) and Toledo (55.7%). Other demographic data shows that neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County that have more than 30% Black/African American households have response rates that are lower than neighborhoods with 50% or more White households (47.6% to 72.8%).  Also, households occupied by renters in Cuyahoga County are less likely to respond to the 2020 Census compared to households that are occupied by owners.

Below is a map of which neighborhoods are struggling with low response rates:

Cuyahoga County Census

Whether you’re a relative, family friend, or unrelated to the children staying in your home, it is important to count everyone—including young children—living under your roof. If a child’s time is divided among multiple homes, count them where they stay most often. If their time is evenly divided, or  if you don’t know where they stay most often, or if they are just staying at your home temporarily, count them where they were staying on Census Day, April 1, 2020.

It’s not too late to respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail. Learn more and respond at 2020census.gov.

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