U.S. Census Bureau needs your help
Kelley Hope, VML Communications Specialist
The decennial census is coming and April 1, 2020 is the big day. A true census count for your community has multiple benefits for local governments, such as the allocation of federal funding. In 2015, more than 130 programs used Census Bureau data to distribute $675 billion in funds. Census data also helps your community plan for future needs.
To prepare for the event, the United States Census Bureau is seeking your help.
Ensure the bureau has all addresses in your locality
Local governments can assist with the census preparation by reviewing addresses. Called the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program, this effort ensures an accurate address list to reach every living quarter and associated population for inclusion in the census.
If your government lacks the resources to participate in LUCA, you can arrange for a higher level of government, such as county, or an organization, such as regional planning agency or council of governments, to conduct your review.
Dec. 15, 2017 is the deadline to register to participate in the LUCA Program. Training workshops on the process are underway now. The Census Bureau will mail materials to registered participants in Feb. 2018.
Encourage citizen participation
Another way to ensure an accurate tally of your citizens is by forming a complete count committee. This volunteer group plans and implements outreach efforts to publicize the importance of the 2020 Census and encourage citizens to participate. A locally-formed committee is ideal for coordinating activities that will uniquely address the special characteristics of your community.
The committees work best when they include representatives from government agencies, education, business, religious organizations, and the media.
Your locality may wish to create a committee to increase the response rate for residents and make sure your community’s data is accurate for the next ten years. The Census Bureau recommends complete count committees be formed by 2019. Find sample resolutions at vml.org/vtc-resources.
Census results affect a number of federally-funded programs, such as Title 1 grants to school districts; Head Start early childhood development programs; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food grants; public transportation; road rehabilitation and construction; and emergency aid. Ensure your locality gets an opportunity for federal dollars with an accurate census count in 2020.
For questions about the 2020 census, contact Ronald Brown, partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau regional office that includes Virginia, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-704-4081. You also may visit www.census.gov/geo/partnerships/luca.html.
About the author: Kelley Hope is one of VML’s communications specialists and editor of Virginia Town & City.