Written by: Director Robert Groves
The Census Bureau has for some time classified living quarters for large numbers of unrelated individuals as “group quarters.” These include dormitories, prisons, assisted living facilities, military barracks, and group homes for those with physical or mental disabilities.
These units offer special challenges for accurate enumeration. They generally have some management personnel on site, both for administering the assignment of persons to units and for security purposes. There is often administrative review of a request to contact one of the residents. Generally, the residents have communal eating facilities, and the distribution of mail is centralized in the facility.
In Census 2000, we developed a separate list of these facilities, distinct from the address list for housing units and apartments. We found that we picked up a lot of duplicates through keeping two lists, which led to large efforts to un-duplicate the returns. This decade we’ve integrated the list of group quarters with the rest of the living quarters.
From the beginning of February to the middle of March, a census taker will visit each group quarters’ facility. There are over 200,000 such units around the country. The primary goal is to inform a contact person (whom we identified in the fall of 2009) of the upcoming enumeration, address privacy and confidentiality concerns related to personal identifiable information, and identify security issues, such as restricted access.
In addition, our staff will obtain an agreed-upon date and time to conduct the enumeration and an expected April 1 population count. The information collected during the interview is used to prepare the correct amount of materials needed to conduct the enumeration at the facility. The information helps determine the size of teams that need to be created, the identification of necessary language abilities, and the identification of any safety and security concerns.
These visits permit us to judge whether the best data would be obtained through reports of the management personnel or through individual reports of the residents. For some settings (e.g., health care facilities) the residents may not be able to provide their own information, and administrative records can be used to enumerate the population. If the judgment is made that administrative records are best used, then the management personnel will take the same oath of confidentiality as our census takers, before assisting us. If individual reporting is chosen as the option, we have a special form for individual response.
Our staff will leave posters or educational materials at the facility that describe how the census will be taken in the facility.
Based on this operation, we will prepare all the materials needed to do the enumeration of the facility in March.