Roundtable: Census 2020: Everyone Counts and You Can Help
(Population and Migration Issues)

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 4 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Beadsie Woo, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Moderator:  Rosemary Rodriguez, Together We Count Colorado
Speakers:  Burton Reist, U.S. Census Bureau, John Thompson, U.S. Census Bureau, retired and Sarah Hughes, Colorado Children's Campaign

In 2020, the United States will fulfill its decennial requirement to get an accurate count of every person living in the country.  This data collection is important to every one of us, the resources our communities have and the way our government represents us.  We all have a stake in making sure there is a complete count and that challenges like relying on online completion and fewer Census workers do not affect the accuracy and fairness of this census.

Despite careful research and thorough preparation before each census, hard to count groups are under-represented.  The 2020 census is likely to undercount important segments of the population including men 18-29 years old, children under the age of five, people who live in sparsely populated areas and communities of color—in particular black, Hispanic, American Indian and Native Alaskan people.  Groups that don’t get counted don’t count.  Without understand who lives in our country, we cannot understand the issues they face, policies they need, conditions of their communities or the contributions they make to our society and economy.

The 2020 census will determine how more than $800 billion in federal resources is shared across states and localities, affecting planning for healthcare, education and transportation. For example, when kids aren’t counted, their states don’t get their fair share of federal dollars for Head Start, school lunches, public health insurance, housing, child care and a myriad other programs and services that help low-income young children get a healthy start in life.

Further, the decennial census plays a key role in ensuring the integrity of our democracy.  The census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to draw legislative districts at other levels of government.  An inaccurate census counts also affects business decisions, distorts government planning and reduces the ability of advocates to hold officials accountable for serving those in need. 

As researchers, policy advocates and decision-makers, we use Census data to identify how well specific populations are faring and whether there are disparities among groups, test whether programs are achieving their desired results and elevate conditions that can be changed through public interventions.  There is infrastructure at the national, state and local levels to support census activities, and there are easy ways for you and your institution to plug into that infrastructure to assure a complete count of everyone who lives in our country.

With the 2020 Census about to get underway, we propose a panel that will educate and activate APPAM conference participants to help Get Out The Count.  The panel will describe: the timeline, operations and resources that the Census Bureau is devoting, the importance of the Census, the implications of undercounts, Denver's Complete Count Committee and how the Census shapes Denver's resources, and Colorado's efforts to count every child in the state.

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