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Why counting Arizona’s young kids is easy, safe and important

kids in classroom looking at the teacher

Families with children birth to age 5 are being encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census that is coming their way in March. Responding to the 2020 Census is an easy, safe and important way to ensure needed resources are provided for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and their communities for the next 10 years.

Everyone living in the United States is asked to complete a simple questionnaire every 10 years that asks for basic information about the people who live or sleep in their home.

Newborn babies and children under age 5 are often missed in the census. An estimated 5% of children under age 5 were not counted in the 2010 U.S. Census. That’s about 1 million young children, the highest of any single age group.

It’s important to count them because 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. When newborn babies and children are not counted, support for programs such as health insurance, hospitals, child care, food assistance, schools and early childhood development is impacted.

In addition to federal resources, an accurate complete count is critical to the work of First Things First. The organization uses census data to determine regional funding allocations, for needs and assets reporting and strategic planning for many state and local programs that impact Arizona’s young children and their families. 

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers who are missed in the census tend to live with large, extended families or with multiple families living under one roof. Here are some simple steps to make sure children are counted 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 don’t have a permanent place to live and 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.

This is the first time that the census documents can be filled out online – even on a mobile device – or by phone or through traditional mail-in form.  Households should start receiving communication about the census beginning in March. And families can fill out the forms online as early as March 23. If they don’t respond by late-April, a census representative will visit in person to collect responses.

Families are reminded that filling out the questionnaire is safe and secure. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information collected and keep it strictly confidential. Encouraging adults with children and newborn babies in the household to respond to the 2020 Census is an easy, safe and important way to help share the future for children.

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