Checking Out a Future Questionnaire Assistance Center

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

Yesterday in Dallas, I visited the Brady Center. The Center is operated by Catholic Charities and serves older residents in the area. When I arrived, the basement of the Center was filled with about 100 folks who had just finished a bingo game. It was a little before lunchtime, and a group of census staff and I provided a short description of the census. Given the large number of Spanish-speaking clients, I got help in translating my remarks about the importance, simplicity and safety of the decennial census. When I explained that the law protecting census data is so strong that I can refuse even a presidential request for individual data, and that that people need not worry about their documentation status, the crowd showed great appreciation.

The Brady Center will likely be a questionnaire assistance center. These are temporary centers we set up during March and April to help people having trouble reading or filling out the questionnaire. Questionnaire assistance centers are staffed by census employees and have available the language assistance guides (in 59 languages!) and the full questionnaires in 6 different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian). We’re hopeful these centers will reduce the burden for some people to participate in the census.

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19 Responses to Checking Out a Future Questionnaire Assistance Center

  1. pds says:

    This is really exciting! How are you choosing sites? Are local insiders helping you choose the best locations? And are you staffing them with local people?

  2. W. Sung says:

    I think this is a great idea because while I was reading the information on this web site the first question that came up was if there is any program that help residents who cannot speak English. I think this center is necessary to ensure that the accuracy of the census data. But, I do have some questions about these centers. Where would they be put? How many of them will be set up in a district? Would these centers be able to cover most of the people who cannot speak English? And Will it cost any money for the state to pay for the translators and rents for the places? But, I think this is a nice program to continue with in the future, it will be nice if we have access to the translated questions online so that people could access it easily.

  3. Frank P says:

    It is a great iniciative that the census bureau is taking to help people understand and appreciate the census. But is this process limited to assistance centers? or does Census education and awareness extend to workplaces and college dorms across the country? I think that the Bureau should also make use of the media to spread the word as the internet (social networking), tv, as well as radio are very well known methods to get a point across.

  4. kev@censusstaff says:

    Frank,
    We have a fully integrated communications campaign designed to increase participation across all segments of the population including the hard to count. We have created specialized teams to work across program areas that serve the varied needs of our operations and programs and deliver consistent materials on time and aligned with field operations.
    We believe that by integrating all campaign elements (national and local partnerships, Census in Schools, media relations, publicity events, paid advertising and online interaction) in a planned and concerted fashion, the public campaign among all population groups will be more effective, efficient, and instrumental and will reach its goals.

  5. Dom V says:

    I think this is a great idea-it provides everyone with a chance to receive any help they need with completing the Census accurately and without fear that their information will be released. This will definitely prompt a larger group of people to answer the Census with greater accuracy who were previously too unsure of where to go for help. It is clear from the story that privacty is an important issue. The introduction of questionnaire assistance centers demonstrates that the Census is being respectful of the population’s concerns, and willing to work with whoever needs help in order to reach a mutually beneficial result.

  6. kev@censusstaff says:

    W. Sung,
    There will be approximately 30,000 Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) open throughout the country between March 19 and April 19, 2010. Regional staff are working with local community organizations to identify potential sites right now and will finalize the locations in February 2010. All sites will be posted on our Web site, 2010census.gov, and be searchable by location.
    Community organizations that are 2010 Census partners donate the space for each QAC. The Census Bureau recruits and hires local residents to staff each site. Fluency in a language other that English is often a key selection criteria to ensure we hire someone who can communicate with local residents.

  7. Ruth says:

    What about people who are blind or visually impaired and can not read or fill out the form? Will accessible copies of the census be available? If so, how does one request an accessible form? I also noticed that there will be Questionnaire Assistance Centers available. Will there be centers located in all major cities?

  8. bill says:

    i hope these work as the 866 number is useless; at least for me. it would be much more helpful if there was a live person. i do not want to fill out the form incorrectly and be fined or go to jail so i just mailed it back with a note that i had questions the robot could not answer. the census official web site does nothave help section either. and how much money is this exercise going to cost?

  9. helen holmes says:

    Your fine tuning of the hispanic community form arrived today under the guise of a census form. You insist on a telephone number so you got one but don’t bother calling me: I am profoundly deaf. Seems to me your form is in flagrant violation of the ADA but I guess as usual the rules don’t apply to those who dish them out.

  10. Scott says:

    I would like to know what by law am I required to fill out and what I am not.

  11. Julie says:

    I received 2 Questionnaires in the mail. I filled one out for my household and sent it in. Should I send the other one back unopened?

  12. Julie,
    Please contact a questionnaire assistance center for more information: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/contact/index.php

  13. RC says:

    If the government has all of the information they are requesting for the census from my tax returns then why do you waste more of our taxpayer dollars on a census?

  14. mvsmd says:

    I am concerned with the fact that Latinos are considered an ethnicity not a race. I am very uncomfortable with the fact that I am being forced to choose a race, basically AA or White American, which I’m neither. How are you going to disperse funds appropriately if your questionnaire is not truly taking into account how we truly categorize ourselves? This very disturbing.

  15. Not Sure says:

    -CITE-
    13 USC Sec. 6 01/05/2009
    -EXPCITE-
    TITLE 13 – CENSUS
    CHAPTER 1 – ADMINISTRATION
    SUBCHAPTER I – GENERAL PROVISIONS
    -HEAD-
    Sec. 6. Information from other Federal departments and agencies; acquisition of reports from other governmental and private sources
    -STATUTE-
    (a) The Secretary, whenever he considers it advisable, may call upon any other department, agency, or establishment of the Federal Government, or of the government of the District of Columbia, for information pertinent to the work provided for in this title.
    (b) The Secretary may acquire, by purchase or otherwise, from States, counties, cities, or other units of government, or their instrumentalities, or from private persons and agencies, such copies of records, reports, and other material as may be required for the efficient and economical conduct of the censuses and surveys provided for in this title.
    (c) To the maximum extent possible and consistent with the kind, timeliness, quality and scope of the statistics required, the Secretary shall acquire and use information available from any source referred to in subsection (a) or (b) of this section instead of conducting direct inquiries.

  16. David B says:

    I am working for the 2010 Census as a Questionnaire Assistance Center Representative. In order for a resident to find out where the Questionnaire Assistance Centers are located, they must get on the Internet and search for Census and then drill down to finally locate the Centers. The 2010 form is very easy to fill out, anyone needing help in understanding the form, most probably would not have access to the Internet, or not be sophisticated enough to know how to locate the information on the Internet.
    There have been no notices in the local newspapers giving the Center locations, nor have I heard any radio announcements. I asked several school children if they were given any information to take home and they said no.

  17. Ken Dupuy says:

    What a waste! I called the 866 number mid-April & they said my form was still en route. Apparently, it was a generic message since I had no opportunity to provide any personal/unique info. It’s now May 28th & I still haven’t received a census form, but the centers are closed! Why’d they even bother opening if they knew they were closing before the forms got delivered? I called again mid-May, & they said they’re not sending English forms out. If they’d told me that a few months ago I wouldn’t have bothered wasting my time on the telephone. Maybe I could order a French form & translate it online … the Census shouldn’t be the complicated!

  18. Ken Dupuy says:

    I still haven’t figured out the form yet. My biggest problem is how do you get one? I can’t fill out a form I don’t have! The telephone help doesn’t have an answer for this!

  19. Dorothy Brown says:

    I was never counted and I want to know why?. I am sure I am not the only one!

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