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2020 Census Children's Wisconsin

Why the 2020 Census matters to kids


As parents, doctors, nurses — as a community of caregivers — all we want is what’s best for our children. We want to make sure they’re healthy, educated and have access to nutritious food, and these are all impacted by the census. Making sure our kids are properly counted will help ensure our communities receive the necessary support and resources for their health and well-being. Filling out the census is safe, easy and so important.

Below are some answers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau to common questions about the census. I encourage all families to read through it. The 2020 Census and all it will influence will have a profound impact on our children’s future.

What is the census and when does it happen?

Every 10 years, everyone living in the United States is asked to complete a simple but very important constitutional task: respond to the census. The 2020 Census is a mailed questionnaire that asks a few basic questions, like the age, sex and number of people who live or stay in your home, including young children and newborn babies. The next census starts in March of 2020 and responding is easy, safe and important. You can complete the questionnaire quickly and easily online, or by mail, once you receive the information from the Census Bureau.

Why is counting young children important?

Newborn babies and young children under 5 are often missed in the census. The 2020 Census helps determine which areas qualify for the critical resources that children and families depend on for the next 10 years — basically, an entire childhood! There are many types of community resources that are impacted by census data, including children’s health insurance, child care and public schools, healthy food assistance, housing support, early intervention services for children with special needs and more. Knowing how many children there are in our communities is essential to providing these services and programs for them. That’s why it’s so important that every child be counted, even newborn babies.

Why are young children missed in the census?

There are many reasons why young children can be missed in the census. Young children who are missed in the census may live with large, extended families or with multiple families living under one roof. These children may stay in more than one home and may not be related to the person filling out the questionnaire or answering questions from a census worker. It is important to remember that everyone living in a household, temporarily or permanently, relative or friend, U.S. citizen or not, needs to be included in the 2020 Census.

How do I make sure to count my kids in the right place?

  • Count children in the home where they live and sleep most of the time, even if their parents don’t live there.

  • If a child’s time is divided between more than one home, count them where they stay most often. If their time is evenly divided, or you don’t know where they stay most often, count them where they are staying on Census Day — April 1, 2020.

  • If a child’s family (or guardian) is moving during March or April 2020, count them at the address where they are living on April 1, 2020.

  • Count children in your home if they are staying in your home on April 1, 2020, even if they are only staying with you temporarily.

  • Count newborn babies at the home where they will live and sleep most of the time, even if they are still in the hospital on April 1, 2020.

How does the Census Bureau count people without a permanent residence?

Census Bureau workers take in-person counts of people living in group settings, such as college dormitories, military barracks, nursing homes and shelters, as well as those experiencing homelessness or who have been displaced by natural disasters. Children and families without a permanent residence who are staying temporarily with a friend or family on April 1, 2020 should be counted at that address.

Are census responses kept confidential?

The law requires that the Census Bureau keep all information confidential and use responses only to produce statistics. Your responses are protected and cannot be accessed by anyone else or used against you in any way. Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect your personal information for life and any violation comes with penalties including significant fines and/or jail time.

How can I help?

There are many ways you can help, starting with responding to the census mailing you’ll receive. Encourage adults with young children and newborn babies in their household to respond to the 2020 Census and to count the kids who live with them. Explain to others that an accurate count can bring helpful resources and programs to their community, particularly for services that support children. Completing the 2020 Census is an easy, safe and important way we can all help shape the future for children.