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The Angle, November 2019 – Why the U.S. Census Matters to Our Children

With the 2020 Census around the corner, Child360 is working to address one of the most troubling census problems: ensuring that our young children are included in the population count. According to William O’Hare, a former Census Bureau research fellow and an expert on the issue of child undercounts, the net undercount rate of young children has more than tripled since the 1980 survey; in the 2010 Census, an estimated five percent of kids aged 0-4 were not counted. In real numbers, that’s about one million young children, the highest of any age group.

Why It’s Vitally Important to Count Every Child

Census Day is April 1, 2020, and Child360—in partnership with multiple local and national groups—is taking concrete steps in our community to ensure that infants, toddlers and all children will be counted. Census numbers are one of the primary factors in determining how states receive money for child and family programs; so when adults fill out the Census questionnaire and include their household’s littlest residents, they help drive funding to critical programs for a span of ten years, as their toddlers become teenagers. Conversely, an undercount denies vulnerable communities their fair share of public funding for services such as early childhood education, schools, healthcare, housing, transportation, and other vital programs. The nonpartisan Partnership for America’s Children estimates that, due to the undercount of children, 36 states have collectively lost an estimated $550 million per year in federal funds for programs for young children since 2010.

“California has more hard-to-count count counties than any other state: Four of the largest counties in the country that are considered difficult to count are here, and among them, Los Angeles County is the most difficult. When our community appears on the census, it also appears on the federal budget. Congress decides whether to use our taxes to improve our schools, clinics and roads, and that’s all based on the census.

“Fair elections depend on fair representation. Federal, state, and municipal electoral district lines are drawn with census information. If we want politicians to listen to us, they have to know that we exist. Filling out the census form ensures that this is the case.”

–Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

What Child360 is Doing to Help

Child360’s work is guided by our mission to support the development of the whole child, factors that include physical and mental health, quality educational opportunities, strong community and more. Ensuring the 2020 Census results accurately reflect children of all ages is an integral step toward achieving these goals, so we’re committed to widespread education initiatives in the months preceding the count. Our work depends upon strategic partnerships and grants, two of which are approaching completion:

  • Brain Building from Birth, a partnership with the Stein Family Foundation, is a bilingual toolkit focusing on the importance of brain development from prenatal through age three, with valuable tips on how to nurture their baby’s brain development and a call-to-action to ensure all children are counted in the 2020 Census. In addition to distributing this toolkit, digital videos from Child360 continue to spread this important message.
  • With the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment’s Early Childhood Baby Futures Fund, Child360 is bringing Census 2020 outreach and education materials to LA County communities with historically low participation rates, to help communities count children ages 0-8. We will deliver bilingual Census 101 trainings and distribute family-friendly census postcards in several languages to these communities, with a call-to-action motivating participants to disseminate Child360’s census materials. Additionally, we will train our network of over 500 early learning providers to distribute census information and material to the families and caretakers at their sites.

How Census Results Impact Our Children’s Health and Education

Counting young children has direct short-term and long-term effects in helping them thrive. When every household responds to the Census, each ensures the needs of their community are accounted for. Census data guides a wide range of decisions made in the public and private sectors that affect the lives of all Americans, including:

  • Early learning programs, special education, childcare grants, and Head Start;
  • Medicaid and children’s health insurance;
  • Low income housing programs;
  • Supplemental nutrition assistance and WIC

Organizations such as Child360 and our grant partners aren’t alone in this work; our efforts are informed by the United States Census Bureau, integrating its data and findings into our education and community outreach programs. Visit for more information on our family and community work.

For Census 2020 assistance in English and Spanish, contact NALEO Educational Fund: 877.352.3676