A U.S. Census Bureau official told reporters last week theCOVID-19 outbreak wasn't among the “worst nightmares”considered as a census disruption. But consider this — with more and more Americans under orders to stay home, the response rate for the 2020 census could be higher than ever. If you haven't already done so, pull the notice out of the stack of mail and be counted.
Forms were mailed to all homes beginning in mid-March, so every household should have received both an initial form and a follow-up request. The form includes a census ID number to reply online or by phone.
The process is quick and painless. The form asks respondents to consider all children in the household, related or unrelated. That includes newborns, grandchildren or foster children. Also counted are relatives living at your address, including adult children, nieces, nephews, cousins or in-laws. Roommates are counted, too.
There are some general questions about race and ethnicity and a final question to ensure respondents are counted only once, asking whether anyone listed usually lives or stays somewhere else, including a college campus, group home or a second home. While most universities are now shut down because of the coronavirus, the census will continue to count students as if they were living on campus.
Palermo Galindo, in an article published on our Sunday Perspective page, emphasized the many ways the information is used: programs for small business development centers; wildlife restoration; child-abuse prevention; special supplemental nutrition programs for women, infants and children; housing assistance for older adults; and community development block grants, to name just a few.
The COVID-19 crisis is bringing the role of government into sharp focus these days. Accurate census data helps federal, state and local officials operate most efficiently. Take a moment to count yourself in.
A March 25 community conversa-tion about the census was canceled, but your questions are still welcome.
The Journal Gazette is partnering with Advancing Voices of Women for a virtual version of this month's Civil Conversation, Census: #FWCountsOnMe. Panelists scheduled to speak at the event have agreed to address questions submitted by email. Kristi J. Barber of the U.S. Census Bureau Chicago Region; Palermo Galindo, community liaison for the city of Fort Wayne; and Irene Paxia, executive director of Amani Family Services, will share information in an upcoming Sunday Perspective section.