Thursday, February 13, 2020

What is the Census?

The US constitution requires the US government to conduct an accurate count of the population every ten years. The decennial census is the most extensive civic activity in our country, covering every person in every household. The 2020 census will involve the largest peacetime mobilization in our nation’s history so it’s clear the census is a big deal. But why does it matter to you as an individual citizen? You might be surprised to learn that almost everything in your everyday life is planned or funded based on data from the Biennial US Census. Some big and some are small.

Why is the Census Important?

Think about your community – your town, neighborhood, or the street where you live. What do you like and want to keep? What would you change? You might consider the important role that your local schools, libraries, churches, play. You might have concerns about the state of the roads or streetlights in your neighborhood. You might even think about the home delivered meal you receive or the community senior center you attend. The census will impact all of these things for the next 10 years and beyond. Local, state and federal governments, private businesses, public works, religious organizations and community groups will all use data from the 2020 Census to make decisions. The census is worth about $34 billion per year to Illinois. Being counted means you can impact your community.

Why Fill Out the Census?

Because it counts every living person, you should be counted no matter your age, your citizenship or immigration status, race or ethnicity. The 2020 Census equals representation, money and power for you and your community. Take time to make a plan to be counted in the upcoming census.

What Will the Census Ask?

The census will ask basic questions like the number of people in your household, whether you own or rent your home, your phone number (just in case the Census Bureau needs to contact you later), as well as the name, sex, age, date of birth, ethnicity race, and relationship of each person in your household.

It’s important to note that the 2020 Census will NOT ask for citizenship status, Social Security Number, bank information, political party or affiliation. The census will never ask for a donation or payment of any kind. If you are asked for any of these things by someone pretending to be from the census, do not answer. This is not the 2020 Census.

Is the Census Safe?

By federal law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with any other government entity. Your answers remain confidential and data is only reported as a whole.

How Can You Complete the Census?

There are three ways to respond to the 2020 Census: online, by phone, or by mail. This is the first time the census is available online, but you do NOT have to choose that method.

When is the Census?

The US Census Bureau will mail invitation packets in mid-March to complete the census online. Invitations will be mailed to your home. The Census Bureau will not email you.  If you do not complete the census online, you will receive a mailed questionnaire by mid-April.

If you have not responded to the mailings & reminders by May, a Census Bureau employee will come to your door to complete the census. Going door to door is costly for the government and can make some people uncomfortable. To avoid a census employee coming to your door, be sure to complete your census early.

What’s Your Plan?

The best advice we can give you for a successful census completion experience is to make a plan to complete the census as early as you can. Think about how you would prefer to answer the census, whether online, over the phone, or by mail.

Want to Fill Out the Census Online?

Wait for the mailed invitation coming mid-March and then follow the directions on that invitation. It will have a web address to go online and a unique ID for your home. If you do not have that invitation, you will be able to look up your home address to respond online.

Want to Fill Out the Census by Phone?

The census invitation that comes in the mail will also have a phone number you can call.

Want to Fill Out the Census by Mail?

In early or mid-April, you will receive a questionnaire in the mail if you have not already responded online or by phone. You cannot request a paper questionnaire be mailed to you. It will come automatically if you have not already responded. Some people will get it earlier.

Need the Census in a Language Other Than English?

The census will be available in English, Spanish and 11 other languages online or via phone. Some areas will receive a mailed paper questionnaire in both English and Spanish. Step-by-step language guides are also available online for 59 non-English languages,

Need the Census in Larger Print?

You can increase the size of print online. There is also a large print English guide to the paper questionnaire that can be found online.

Need Help Filling Out the Census?

Several community organizations are hosting events or kiosks where you can get help completing the census online. They can help you look up your address. If anyone is helping you complete the census,

they should read each question to you so that you can answer. The census should capture your response.

We’re here to help because the census is important for you and our community. Make your plan for how you will answer the 2020 Census and let us know how we can help.

For more information on the Census, call AgeGuide at 630-293-5990, or email Gretchen Knowlton at gknowlton@ageguide.org.

 

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