Every One Counts
2020 is the start of a new decade and is also a leap year, but did you know it’s the year that the U.S. Census takes place? Once a decade, the federal government conducts a census of the entire population to count everyone in the United States.
Many may think of the Census as just a head count of people living in different cities, but it’s much more than that. These counts provide a picture of our nation which then helps determine:
- where to build new schools, hospitals, senior centers, businesses and other community facilities;
- how to distribute federal funding through numerous community and citizen assistance programs; and
- how to allocate congressional seats, including number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the boundaries of legislative districts.
The census also helps see how our communities change overtime. A lot has happened in ten years. It’s important to have an accurate count of our community for these reasons, plus more!
To help make sure everyone is counted, the Joplin City Council appointed the One Joplin non-profit organization to form a Complete Count Committee (CCC). Recognizing the significance of counting everyone in our area, members from community organizations have joined the CCC to assist with the education and awareness efforts to encourage our citizens’ participation.
The count determines more than just the population numbers. More than $675 billion in federal funding flows back to states and local communities each year based on census data. It is estimated that a community loses $1,300 for each person not counted in the Census.
The Census will be completed during the first quarter of 2020. Community education takes place the first two months. In March, households will receive a census invitation, discussing different ways to complete the form. There is an opportunity to respond online as well as replying through the traditional mailed form or by phone. April 1 is designated as Census Day to remind residents to complete the questionnaires in whatever format is best for them.
“Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. Either way is okay – it’s just important to complete it,” said Ashley Micklethwaite, One Joplin Executive Director and Chair of the CCC. “And your responses to the 2020 Census are safe and secure.”
Micklethwaite noted that answers can only be used to produce statistics – they cannot be used against citizens in any way. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s responses with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities for 72 years. Citizens can be assured that their information is confidential.
“With this type of funding at risk, the City encourages ALL residents to please fill out their census form,” said Interim City Manager Dan Pekarek. “It will take about ten minutes of your time, but it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your community.”
Some people may think that they don’t use federal grant programs, so the census will not affect their livelihood. This misconception can cost the City of Joplin, Jasper and Newton Counties, as well as the state of Missouri a significant amount of funding, as many grants pay for the programs and services received daily in our community. Some of these include:
- Child and Adult Care Food Programs
- School Lunch and Breakfast Programs
- WIC – Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program
- Adult Education & Special Education grants
- Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment
- Community Services Block Grants
- Head Start
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Special Programs for the Aging
- HUD Department’s Community Development Block Grants
- HOME Investment Partnership Programs
- Labor Department’s Employment Service
- Unemployment Insurance Program
- Workforce Investment Act – covering various services
- Highway Planning and Construction (Federal-aid Highways)
Watch for your invitation to be counted, because every one counts! For more information, visit 2020Census.gov, Citizens can also contact One Joplin at 417-499-9529 or the City’s Public Information Office at 417-624-0820, ext. 204.