During the last census in 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates it missed more than 2 million children in its national count – over 100,000 kids under age 5 in Texas, alone. Now that planning for the 2020 census is underway, some worry that a lack of funds will make it hard to accurately count Texans, in particular, next year.
Ann Beeson is CEO for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank based in Austin. She says many Texans are counting on federal money that’s allocated based on census data, to help them get by. The census determines how much federal money will go to each state depending on population size, and that money then goes toward state programs for health care, food assistance, transportation, education and housing.
“If Texans are not accurately counted in the census, there will be a much smaller pie,” Beeson says.
But without adequate funding to properly conduct the census, Texas cities, counties and other groups will have to find a way to track down Texans who proved hard to count last census, with limited resources. Beeson says immigrants, young children, people in rural communities, people of color and people who frequently travel are those considered hard to count.
“We just need to shout louder about it. What is most needed are resources, both financial resources to kind of do that work, but also people resources,” Beeson says. “Plugging in more and more of those kinds of providers in those hard to count areas to help raise awareness about why it is important to count young children.”
Written by Libby Cohen.