LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Census Day is less than a month away, and today I’d like to share some advice from the United States Census Bureau that will ensure we count as many people as possible.
Members of the Arkansas Complete Count Committee, which I created last summer, have met regularly, and they are diligently spreading the word that an accurate count of our population is critical. The federal government allocates funding back to the states based upon population. Each person we count will account for about $3,300 every year to the state.
An undercount of even 1 percent, or just 30,000 people, could cost Arkansas nearly a billion dollars over the next decade.
The census experts have identified several segments of our population who often are undercounted. Children five and younger is one of those categories.
The Census Bureau offers several guidelines for counting children:
For newborns who are still in the hospital on Census Day, which is April 1, include your baby as an occupant of the home where she or he will live and sleep most of the time.
For a child who spends time in more than one home, count him where he spends most of his time. If his time is divided evenly between homes, count him where he is staying on April 1.
Count children in the home where they live and sleep most of the time, even if their parents do not live there.
If you are caring for the child of a family member or a friend, and the child does not have a permanent place to live, include the child in your Census report, even if the arrangement is temporary.
Researchers have found several situations in which a child could be overlooked. For example, a child may live with a grandparent at times, and then with a single mother and a single father the rest of the time. The grandparents or father mistakenly assume the mother included the child on her census form, and none of them include the child on theirs.
The Census Bureau will begin mailing invitations to homes on March 12, 2020. When your invitation to participate arrives, please respond by mail, by telephone, or online.
The Census Bureau has offered some tips to avoid schemes by people who want to illegally obtain information from you. The bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, or for your bank account or credit card numbers. The Bureau will never ask for money, fees, or donations.
If you have doubts about someone who claims to be a Census Bureau enumerator, ask to see his ID badge, which will include his official photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
The information you provide to the Census Bureau is secure. Employees of the Census Bureau take an oath to protect the privacy of your data. The agency cannot release home-specific data for seventy-two years. A Census employee who releases your data without proper authority can face federal prosecution, up to five years in prison, and a fine up to $250,000.
This year offers at least two significant opportunities to participate in the life of our democracy. You can vote in the upcoming runoff elections and in the presidential election on November 3. And on April 1, you can be one of the Arkansans who helps our state and our nation produce an accurate count of our population, which is directed in the United States Constitution.