With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, it feels like an opportune time to express my gratitude to all those working tirelessly to ensure that everyone is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. No, that is not typically what one is grateful for during the holiday season. But at this pivotal moment for our county and country, there are fewer things more important to the human services sector than ensuring high rates of participation in next year’s Census. And why?
Our sector’s ability to serve our community is at stake.
Through the Census, the federal government allocates $21 billion to Ohio for a range of the very programs elemental to our agencies’ work: Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, WIC (Women, Infants & Children), SNAP, school meals, Head Start, Early Start, TANF, and so much more. If a state’s population is undercounted, these programs are underfunded. If these programs are underfunded, our agencies are underfunded.
While ensuring high rates of participation in the Census is always challenging, it is going to be particularly difficult in 2020. For one, for the first time, the Census Bureau is going to prioritize web-based participation rather than in-person or mail-based participation. Second, the White House may be hiring just one-third of the 149,000 temporary canvassers the Census Bureau had hired in 2010 to go door-to-door in our neighborhoods to ensure participation. And third, immigrant populations that have been been targeted by this Administration are already signaling they will be more reluctant to provide any information to the federal government.
And that is why we at HSC are so very grateful to be apart of the Ohio Census Advisory Coalition, led in part by our members at the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, and of our role on the Columbus Counts initiative’s Transportation Subcommittee led by COTA CEO Joanna Pinkerton. And it is why we are so grateful for the local leadership of Doug Murray, the Census Coordinator for the “Columbus Counts” initiative; and of the State of Ohio’s Complete Count Commission, which includes CDF-Ohio’s Executive Director, Tracy Najera.
Together, we will carry the important message that participating in the Census–despite the aforementioned challenges–remains easy, safe, and important. We will work together to reach deep into our communities to ensure as many participate in the Census as possible, and that our communities are as well-funded as can be over the decade to come.
We will have much more to say on this in the months ahead–and much work to do–in advance of the start of the Census on April 1, 2020. But in the interim, please let us know how we can connect you with the information you need to ensure our community leads the country in ensuring an accurate count.
From my family to yours, may you have a restful and love-filled Thanksgiving. And if these days happen to be difficult, may they land gently.
Thank you as ever for reading, and for your support of the human services sector.