In the 2020 US census count, the child population may face some inaccuracies. This is what the nonprofit news organization Marketplace is forecasting.
“Having an accurate census in 2020 is crucial to identifying how many households are food insecure, living in poverty, and so many other circumstances,” Kelly Quintero, director of advocacy and government relations at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, tells Parentology.“It ultimately mandates how the federal budget is distributed among the states and communities. That includes roads, highways, hospitals and public services like public education or job training.”
There are solid reasons to suspect this outcome, specifically the 2010 census, where children under five years old represented the largest missed population. Ten percent of the children in this age group didn’t get counted. Experts on Marketplace estimated for every child not counted in 2010, the respective areas of their residence lost $2,700 in government funding.
Here’s why this is likely to happen again and the potential impact.
Aims of the 2020 Census
Michelle Kaye Malsbury, a partnership specialist at the US Census Bureau, tells Parentology, “Everyone needs to be counted. Our motto is: count everyone once. Only once. And in the right place.”
According to the PBS network, the Trump administration tried to use the census for an additional purpose: determining the illegal immigration population. However, the proposed question classed all non-citizens together, whether they were legal residents or not. Officials have since removed the question.
Reasons for Potential Inaccuracies
The biggest foreseen reason for inaccuracies in the US 2020 Census is the lack of proper funding. According to The Brookings Institution, in 2014, Congress decided the 2020 Census should cost no more than it did in 2010 — making no adjustments for inflation.
The Obama administration fought this decision, but failed. The Trump administration then slashed the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request by an additional 10%. Subsequently, census workers cut out the following from the budget:
- Spanish-language test census
- Proper planning for counting people in rural and remote areas
- Local outreach and communication strategies to encourage people to complete the census forms
The Effects of Inaccuracies
Quintero says it’s difficult to put a numerical value on the financial loss for 2020 onward when children aren’t counted. She identifies several programs that may suffer: “… loss of meals through programs like school meals, Head Start, healthcare or nutrition programs. An inaccurate count can also mean a loss of funding for public schools.”
Businesses making investment decisions based on inaccurate census counts of children can also impact neighborhoods with youngsters missing out on resources ranging from recreational centers to job opportunities as they grow into young adulthood.
The Bottom Line
The potential financial loss of failing to count kids goes beyond numerical values. The standard of living in overcrowded cities and rural communities face risks that will follow miscounted children for the next 10 years until the 2030 census.
Financial Losses of Kids Not Counted During the 2020 Census: Sources
Marketplace: No Child Left Behind in The Census
The Brookings Institution: The 2020 Census May Be Wildly Inaccurate—And It Matters More Than You Think
PBS.org: Analysis: Why the 2020 Census Doesn’t Need A Citizenship Question To Count The Undocumented
Michelle Kaye Malsbury, U.S. Census Bureau
Kelly Quintero, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida