Get Ready for the Census
By Dianne Anderson
Be ready to open the door when, not if, the Census comes knocking.
But there is a way everyone can avoid that knock.
Unlike any other time in history since the Census began, this generation has one advantage. They can fill out their census questionnaires online.
The Census Bureau is telling everyone to watch for their special code starting March 12 coming directly to their mailbox.
Dr. DeVera Heard said she is also trying to spread the word about the importance of the census, and what it means for access to community services.
Recently, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc Orange County and National Council of Negro Women co-hosted a session with a Census representative to explain the importance of full participation.
“It only happens every ten years,” Dr. Heard said. “It determines how much money comes into an area for things such as child care and senior citizen services, roads. We’ve been trying to get the word out to make sure people don’t take it lightly.”
If the Census does not get the information they requested, expect the knock.
Heard said several people at their session were senior citizens, and they expressed that they do not like to open the doors for people they don’t know.
“The Census representative said they should be dressed appropriately and have a badge to show,” she said. “But, they were still concerned. Things are not quite what they used to be.”
Another question that came up is that many seniors are technologically challenged, and may need help filling the form online. The Census representative said they are contacting churches to urge help with access in getting seniors out to local Census offices, or helping them complete questionnaires online.
Dr. Heard said apportionment is the other important aspect. The Census numbers determine political representation, and if a state will gain or lose a congressional seat.
“If we’re just counting on getting assistance on whatever we need in California, we’re not going to get it from the goodness of anyone’s heart. It’s got to be based on actual data,” she said.
Jeanette Durán Pacheco, U.S. Census Bureau media specialist, said most people do not know how the Census impacts their daily lives. The data that comes back for this year’s count determines how the federal government will allocate over $675 billion each year over the next ten years.
It determines how much federal money reaches districts for important projects, hospitals, schools, community and economic development. The Census comes back to our communities in ways like the streets, emergency services, WIC, headstart, federal scholarships, SNAP and housing, she said.
She stressed that there should also be no fear of the census.
Personal information and confidentiality are taken seriously. In fact, the process is so private that any workers who divulge Census information will face a fine of up to $250,000, and, or, five years in prison.
“That’s a quarter of a million dollars, but it’s good,” she said. “All Census employees, we take an oath to protect their information for the rest of our lives.”
She said that mobile assistants for the questionnaires are now being set up at school districts. Anyone can get help, especially those dealing with language barriers or disabilities.
The Census is continues to take as many job applicants as they can to grow the pool of potential workers. More applicants may be needed, but she said job availability also depends on how many people fill out their questionnaires online.
Applications for enumerators in Orange county is not maxed out yet, she added. Peak hiring for the enumerators will happen in April, and Census offices will continue recruiting in the coming weeks.
“We have an area census office in Santa Ana,” she said. “We’re still looking for Census workers, people that deploy in the neighborhoods once the Census is out.”
Census workers will represent different backgrounds, different cultures and professions, and will be recognizable faces within their communities.
She said they want to hire people who are from the neighborhood and who the neighborhood is familiar with.
“The more we have somebody who is trusted in the community, the more likely they will respond to the Census and the Census taker,” she said.
To apply for a Census job, go to www.census.gov/jobs.