Today, April 1, is National Census Day, and while the census may not be top of mind right now, we don’t want to lose sight of something as important as this. The 2020 Census is underway and response dates are adjusted due to the Coronavirus outbreak. These adjustments have been made to protect both Census Bureau employees and the general public.
Purpose of the Census
The purpose of the census is to count all people living in the United States. Information from the census is used by federal, state, and local governments to make decisions about funding for services and programs. These services and programs include education, housing, health care, transportation, and other community needs.
Importance of the Census to People with Disabilities
In the past, people with disabilities have been underrepresented in census data. Underrepresentation can lead to a loss in federal funding for disability services. All communities benefit from these services. Everyone needs to be counted to ensure the government has the right information to make decisions about these important services. Having enough money for programs and services for people with disabilities depends on having the right information.
Census information is also used by the government to figure out how many Representatives the state should have in Congress. If people don’t fill out the census, a state might lose members in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then, the people in that state won’t have as much of a say about decisions in Congress.
Luckily preventing this is as easy as sharing information. Sharing information with self-advocates, family members, and direct support professionals about what the census does and how to take part is one of the best ways to help.
Changes to Census Deadlines
Currently, the revised schedule has extended the window for online self responses to August 14th. The Census Bureau strongly encourages the public to respond online, by mail, or by phone. Census takers will continue to drop off invitations to take the census until May 1st. However, the window for interviews conducted by Census takers has been suspended and extended until May 14.
Preparing for the Census
There are also resources that may be helpful for understanding the process for the census. At the bottom of the page, you can find a sample census letter and helpful information for the census’s phone survey. Full information on the status of the census can be found on the 2020 Census website. Instructions on how to take the census online are available in multiple languages at the bottom of the page where you’ll also find a FAQ for census questions.
The census survey will arrive in a letter like the one below:
Important Info Regarding the Census
- The census runs from March to August.
- It will be available online at 2020census.gov.
- It will also be available by phone at 1-800-923-8282.
- Starting in May, census workers will go in person to interview people who have not yet taken the census (Interviews may be suspended or delayed in response to the Coronavirus Outbreak).
- There are guides to help people with disabilities fill out the census. Census guides are available in large print and in braille.
- The census response for your home will cover everyone who lives in your home.
- Only one person from each household needs to fill out the census. If you live with other people talk to them about who will fill out the census for the household.
- The census counts everyone who lives in the United States, not just citizens.
Be Aware of Census Related Fraud
There’s also a risk of fraud or spam related to the census. All census workers have a badge proving they are a census worker. You can ask to see their badge to check that they work for the census. You can also keep yourself and others safe with the information below.
Every census worker’s badge contains four pieces of information:
- Their badge says “Department of Commerce.”
- Their badge has the worker’s name printed on it.
- Their badge has a picture of the census worker.
- Their badge has an expiration date on it. That means that the census worker can use the badge until that date. But they cannot use the badge after that date.
Be aware that census workers will not:
- Ask for your Social Security number
- Ask for money or your bank account information
- Send people to jail for not answering questions
- Come from a political party, like the Democrats or Republicans
Full information on the status of the census can be found on the 2020 Census website. Remember, your response matters. Be counted!