By Sandra Gutierrez, Founder and Executive Director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors
In our work with families across 40 states, we often hear stories about the lack of resources for quality early childcare, schools, healthcare, economic growth, and social support programs. Recently, I heard from a group of mothers in rural Texas. They were hopeful for their children’s educational future, but saw the inequities in the schools with deteriorating buildings, overcrowded classrooms and limited access to health services. At Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, we hear these stories often from caring parents who want the best for their children, and who want to advocate for improvements in their local communities.
The Time Is Now
Every ten years we have the opportunity to make our collective voice heard through the US Census, a national survey to count every person living in the country.
Children and families utilize hundreds of federally-funded programs like Head Start, CHIP, and Medicare. The money that funds these programs is allocated based on how many people are counted in the Census. Funding for these programs and resources will be reduced or end if there is an undercount in our community. We must show that we still need these resources.
In 2010, at least 400,000 young Latino children under five years old were left uncounted, costing hundreds of millions of dollars to local communities throughout the United States. Overall in 2010, 4.6% of children ages 0 to five were undercounted, costing our communities $1,000 per year in health and human services programs alone (Reamer, 2018).
We can write a different story this year. Starting today, we can ensure we all do our part to take the Census and encourage others to do so. The Census is available today to take online here or by phone.
When all families and children are counted we ensure that our communities get the appropriate federal funding and political representation. It also helps communities understand how they should spend funds, like building more preschools, schools, and hospitals, fixing roads, and paying for important programs.
Resources to Help
As a US Census national partner, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors launched the following resources for family-serving organizations to inform and encourage their communities to complete the Census form.
The census is ten simple questions that are safe for everyone to answer. Responses are confidential and protected by law. It can be completed online or over the phone in 13 different languages. It can also be completed by mail in English or Spanish.
What We Need to Do
- Fill out your census form this spring. You can fill it out online or by phone starting March 12th, or fill out a paper form that will be mailed to you in April.
- Count everyone living in your household on your census form. This includes babies, children, and anyone who is living and sleeping there most of the time, even if they are not related to you.
- Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same
Be counted and help us ensure that the next generation receives the community resources, programs, and infrastructure it deserves. Let’s make sure we get the word out! Our communities’ future depends on our full participation.