Children Count Too!

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

It’s often a surprise to many people when they learn that children tend to be undercounted in US censuses. Most can imagine various types of adults who fail to participate in censuses, but don’t immediately think of children being missed.

Based on prior evaluations there are two basic reasons for the phenomenon. First, the adult groups that tend to be undercounted also tend to have more children in their homes. Failing to have the households participate means that we disproportionately fail to include children. Secondly, there some evidence that the adults filling out the census questionnaire tend to forget babies and very young children. This might be due to the misconception that the census is designed more to record adults than young children.

Today, we launched the “Children Count Too” public awareness campaign to remind parents to include babies and young children on their 2010 Census forms. To help us with this campaign, we have enlisted a very important celebrity — Dora the Explorer! Tomorrow, I’m going to a news conference where we will unveil a public service announcement in both English and Spanish featuring Dora.

All of this is important because if parents do not count their newborn on the form this March, their child will essentially be invisible over the next 10 years until they reach the 4th grade, when the 2020 Census comes around. Census data are used to determine the allocation of more than $26 billion for educational services and other programs focused on children.

If for no other reason, parents of small children should participate in the census because their children can be the beneficiaries.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov

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37 Responses to Children Count Too!

  1. BT says:

    I am a White male , My wife is hispanic (Puerto rican and Domincan), and we have a newborn baby. What is his ehtnicity considered?
    Is it easier to list him as white?

  2. Billy Volner says:

    The final bill, Statute 2 of March 1, 1790, provided that census marshals be appointed, directed to “cause the number of the inhabitants within their respective districts to be taken; omitting in such enumeration Indians not taxed, and distinguishing free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, from all others; distinguishing also the sexes and colours of free persons, and the free males of sixteen years and upwards from those under that age.” The act directed that the names of the heads of families be recorded, the number of white males sixteen and older, the number of white males under sixteen, the number of white females, the number of all other free persons, and the number of slaves. Failure of an assistant marshal to make a return, or to make a false return, was punishable by a $200 fine. Failure of a marshal to do the same was punishable by up to an $800 fine. The questions about profession, and other information Representative Sedgwick spoke of, were not made part of the final census. Census day was set at the first Monday in August, 1790. Failure to cooperate with a marshal or assistant was punishable by a $20 fine.
    The Census Director states in his video there are 10 questions, the above doesn’t require 10. Also the US is an English speaking nation and all US citizens are required to speak English.

  3. Chris says:

    The Census form asks separately about Hispanic Origin and race/ethnicity. So an individual can be recorded as being Hispanic or Latino and then, separately, either white or black or some other race.

  4. Chris says:

    The US is a polyglot nation and it always has been. Also, if you are born in the United States and are a citizen, there is certainly not a requirement that you speak English. Surely freedom of speech includes freedom of language choice.

  5. Carol says:

    Hopefully this does not post twice. I do not feel that my child, or any bi-racial children are fairly counted. How can they be when the census form only ask of the race/ethnicity for the head of household/person filling out the form. It is not an accurate count! Yes it may count how many people live in that city/state. I am a caucasian mother and my son is caucasian/african american. If he is truly not counted how does his school district/our city/county get proper funding? I know of 3 families on my suburban street that are of so called mixed races. This form needst to updated before the next census.

  6. disappointed says:

    I hate the presumption and lack of judgment associated with the April 1st date. April Fools day is a stupid choice of days for a census. Not only so, but to expect people to fill out the form presumptuously before that date is very poor as well. Where is your judgment people?????????

  7. Why says:

    Openly all say they are against quotas. The census is just that, a quota system. Illegal alliens need all kinds of services. Just give it to them. Tax paying citizens get nothing but a opportunity to pay more taxes. I want no part of your census, and I want no part of your government run health care system. Getting up in place for your one world order will be done without my consent!

  8. Shocked! says:

    I find it really sad that the Census Bureau with a functional website and a mission that accounts for 400 billion dollars cannot accept a simple 10 question form ONLINE??
    Please don’t give us the “We’re experimenting with the Internet excuse” – that may have worked in 1994… it’s 2010 for god’s sake!

  9. I just noticed that the census form distinguishes between biological and adopted children by asking “adoptive daughter/son” or biological daughter/son.
    This labeling of children is insulting, demeaning and and unnecessary.
    Had the form asked in a separate question something like “did the child come into the family through adoption” that would have been acceptable bececause it is not directly labeling the child
    I can not in good conscious answer that question so I am going to write in my own check box and title it daughter/son and then I will check that.
    But the Census Bureau should be ashamed to be so insensitive in the way it worded its form. You deserve to have people throw the form in the trash because of what you did.

  10. Kim says:

    W/re to children, there is no need to delineate between biological and adoptive children. Children are children whether adopted or biological. Census is numbers not categorization.

  11. Kim says:

    I had that exact reaction, and my husband thought I was off the mark (as it were).

  12. Diana says:

    Regardless of race, BT’s children (as mine do) will still have the issue of a shared ethnicity. I haven’t seen space in the form to indicate that my children are half Hispanic.

  13. M. E. says:

    Why does the ad campaign make ridiculous claims like this:
    we’d have no possible way to know how many kids are enrolled in a school if not for the census
    That’s just wrong on so many levels… First, not all children attend traditional schools and second, don’t schools know who attends?

  14. Danny says:

    Why do we need to supply names and birthdates of minors (or for that matter anyone)? How does that information pertain to the assignment of representatives? I think sex and age would be sufficient.

  15. gene says:

    I understand by law a person over 18 must complete the census. If I have children under 18, am I REQUIRED to include their information (date of birth, age, sex, race) if they do not want me to?

  16. Gene, complete responses to all questions are required by law

  17. MS SJ says:

    I am divorced and my ex-husband and I share joint legal custody of our 17 year old daughter. Meaning she spends just as much time with me as she does him. For school purposes, she physically lives with him but that doesn’t mean she lives more there.
    So how do I answer quest 1, 2, & 7?
    I live with my two older children so 3 is answered for q#1. Keep in mind, today is March 19th. My youngest could be here on April 1st. Then what?
    If I leave question #1 at 3
    Do I answer question #2 by checking Children [which she is not a child any longer] or by checking relative which I think this term is rather a bit cold when speaking of my biological daughter.
    If I answer #2 then I will answer the 4th person with her information while checking child custody. Having a box for child custody must be there for a reason.
    Now if my ex-husband answers this the same….will she be counted twice???
    Granted, the census is to count everybody but this census is also a tool people working on their geneaolgy, like myself and should my daughter’s grandkids want to follow their history, I want to make it clear who are her parents and so on.

  18. MS SJ,
    Please call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868.

  19. M. Gilbo says:

    I agree! I have asked why there is a distinction and have not received a reply.

  20. M. Gilbo,
    Adoption data are collected on Census forms in order to inform the government of the growing diversity of US families and to provide information to better effect government policies related to tax assistance to families with adopted children, programs that encourage adoption or programs that assist families who adopt children. Many of those programs and potential legislative actions are shown in the page below on the website of the National Council for Adoption which depends on the Census Bureau as providing the only national and state level information on the number of adopted children and the characteristics of those families who adopt children. http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/policy/fed_leg.html

  21. M. Gilbo says:

    I suggest then that someone who developed the census form should have read the website. As Mark Schweber indicated, “Had the form asked in a separate question something like “did the child come into the family through adoption” that would have been acceptable bececause it is not directly labeling the child.”

  22. asia thomas says:

    I think the government should make a world wide youth center. It should have free transportation and free lunch. Children should be able to play academic games the children would find fun.

  23. EF says:

    I have completed and submitted my 2010 US Census Bureau form by mail three weeks ago. However, I continue to get requests from the Census Bureau from your Washington and Phoenix offices asking me to fill out the form when I receive it. Accordingly, I suggest that you reduce your staff , which seemingly do not know what to do with their time – and save us, the taxpayer, some of our hard earned money.
    If this is how the Federal Government will continue to operate, heaven help us with the impending Federal Government run health care!

  24. Jeff says:

    Bri, Stop the scare tactics! You know that you or anybody else in the census are not going to fine anybody. So quit trying to scare people.

  25. StchNTyme says:

    Ok now Im shocked,
    For those of you who value your privacy that is why the Questionaire is not online. In an effort to keep you personal information safe from hackers and other notorious villians; the questionaire is NOT online.
    For however safe and secure we try to keep this information there is someone out there trying to get to it and possibly will eventually. So assume that the 2020 Census will be online for your convenience and Fill out the 2010 questionaire so that you will be provided with the necessary Health and Human services will be in place when you need it in 2019.

  26. Troy Thompson says:

    This whole cenus thing is a joke. Why? Because we get a form that says if you have a child in college that lives at your home but is temporarily staying away from home while at college then DO NOT COUNT THEM!!! Then our College Child gets a form at school at her private reidence that says if you are staying here temporarily while being a student at college DO NOT FILL THIS FORM OUT >> YOU SHOULD BE COUNTED AT HOME>> SO ALL THE COLLEGE KIDS IN THE UNITED STATES DO NOT COUNT!!! WHAT A JOKE. YOU WOULD THINK THAT THE WAY THE CENUS IS EXPPRESSED TO US HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT YOU COULD BE COMPITENT ENOUGH TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO COUNT OUR COLLEGE POPULATION WHICH I WOULD ASSUME IS PRETTY LARGE, NOT FREELOADING ILEGAL ALIENS SUCKING OUR MONEY AND RESOURCES AWAY!!!

  27. Troy,
    We do ask that college students are counted at their usual residence, if they attend school away, not at their parental home. They should fill out the form for their where they live away at college.

  28. Heather Laraon says:

    We are expecting a baby any day now, but if she doesn’t arrive by April 1, can you please confirm that she should not be included? Or can we submit the form once she has arrived.

  29. Heather,
    If she is not born by April 1, do not count her.

  30. Troy Thompson says:

    What a joke! We receive cenus form at home and it says do not count your daughter that is away at college… She gets a form at her address at college that tells her not to count herself living there, that it will be on the Home (Ours) You are missing every college student in the U.S. Thought this would be a more compitant program. Why bother???

  31. Troy Thompson says:

    Her form said not to….

  32. Marion says:

    This whole thing about census mailing reminders is total nonsense and waste of the taxpayer’s money. I received a letter in the mail about middle of march telling me the census form was going to be mailed to me. Then I get the census form on March 20th and filled it out and put it in my mailbox only to receive another reminder to mail the census form in on the very same day I put it in the mail….only two days after receipt of the form. If that was not enough, I now got another census form in the mail today, April 1st. Surely I will get yet another reminder to send that one in also. If I don’t send in the second form, I can bet that not only will I get yet another reminder postcard, but someone will come to my door during May – July asking why it was not sent in. Ten days have passed since I sent in the form and I get another form to fill out today. This is TOTAL WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY!!!

  33. Troy Thompson says:

    If THEY do not want you to??? Who is the parent????

  34. Troy, college students living away from home while attending college are counted where they are living at college.
    Also, college students living at their parental home while attending
    college are counted at their parental home.

  35. Marion, As many as 45% of Americans were unaware that this month is when the Census starts. That’s probably due to the fact we only do a Census once every ten years. Based on historical response rates, we expect roughly two thirds of households will mail back their form. The rest we will have to send an enumerator to collect the data required by the Constitution. You can imagine that follow-up is an expensive proposition. In fact, every one percent increase in the number of households who mail back the form saves the taxpayers about $85 million in expensive door-to-door follow up. That’s why we advertise and promote, to increase the mail back response rate and help save on expensive labor to follow up. We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form and reminding them to participate increases response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pays for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million. After the 2000 Census we returned to the Treasury some $305 million in savings. Then Secretary of Commerce Don Evans testified in 2001 to the U.S. Senate that those savings came about from our advertising, promotion and PR efforts encouraging households to mail back their forms, increasing response rates over the prior census for the first time in three decades.
    The total we spend on all promotion and advertising is about one dollar per person in the U.S. It costs just 42 cents to mail back the form. But it costs $57 for follow up with non-responding households, many of which we must visit several times to reach someone at home. We wish we did not have to advertise, and that 100% of households mailed their form back, but that is just not the case.

  36. Ms McLean says:

    no one cant seem to help me ‘ i have lost my form and work two jobs wont be home for census workers to be counted please helpme i cant afford to go to jail lol

  37. Ms. McLean, The Census Bureau will be sending out replacement questionnaires. If you have not received a replacement questionnaire by April 12th, please contact the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868, but please note until April 12th, it is automated message. If you call after April 12th, someone will be able to help you. Also you can pick up a form at one of our Be Counted sites. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/ Be counted sites are not private homes, but libraries, churches, town halls, local business etc.

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