Every 10 years, Americans have a great opportunity to sculpt their communities and improve their quality of life. The 2010 Census will take on the daunting task of counting every individual residing in the United States. This year, there is an increased emphasis on obtaining an accurate count. Tough economic times have limited federal spending in social services and raise the importance of targeting needy communities through information found in the census.
More than $400 billion in federal funding will be distributed in each of the next ten years to communities based off the data collected this spring. To enumerate the value, Florida received $17.4 billion in 2007 from Census money. More than $950 was received in 2007 per person counted in Florida to help repave roads, build new hospitals and fund Florida’s Child Welfare system.
However, states suffer when census participation is low. In 2000, 6.4 million people were not included on the Census, and their absence was felt when communities were seeking proper representation. It was estimated that for every 100 people who were not counted, communities failed to earn $1.2 million each year. Those who are undercounted most frequently are the very people who benefit most from funds distributed according to Census data.
Information on children compiled through the census is used to sculpt a number of services offered in a community. They are one of the most vital demographics, and they are frequently undercounted. In 2000, one million children were left off the Census’ count. More than 20 percent of children in Florida live in hard-to-count areas. These areas are defined by high levels of poverty and mobile households with complex living arrangements. These are the areas that can benefit the most from the funds that translate into schools, child care centers and health clinics. The actual data compiled from the census is equally as valuable as the funding. Information about child population can help target the efforts of businesses and non-profits to create opportunities for the impoverished.
Like many of the problems we face, the solution involves increasing community awareness. The Census Bureau has made a sample of the questionnaire available before it arrives in mail boxes on March 1. When the time comes, encourage others to fill out the form and mail it back. It has been reduced to a single page and can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Ten minutes is all it will take to make sure that every child is counted. For more information, you can visit the Census’ website.