Every One Counts
Citizens in Joplin and surrounding area should receive their initial invitation to respond to the 2020 Census in their mailboxes between March 12 and 20, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Households are encouraged to respond when they receive their invitation. Census Bureau officials note that depending on how likely the area is to respond online, households will receive either an invitation encouraging them to respond online or by phone (about 112 million households), or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire (about 31 million households). These options are designed to be convenient for the citizen and their preferences, with all responses being confidential.
Following the invitation, the household will receive a second letter in the mail shortly after reminding them to respond. Then, households that still haven’t responded will receive a series of additional reminders, including a paper questionnaire in mid-April. Census takers will follow up with households that don’t respond to collect responses in person.
Citizens are reminded that 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.
Recognizing the significance of an accurate count of Joplin’s population, the City Council appointed One Joplin, a community based non-profit organization, to assist with this effort. Ashley Mickelthwaite, Executive Director of One Joplin, worked with community leaders to form a Complete Count Committee (CCC). Members from different sectors in our community joined the CCC to assist with the education and awareness efforts of the Census and encourage all citizens’ participation.
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 is taken every ten years.
“With the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone, each household can decide what works best for them,” said Micklethwaite. “Either way is okay – it’s just important to complete it so there is a complete count of Joplin.”
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.
Funds for federal grant programs benefitting citizens are often based on the Census statistics. Programs and services received daily in our community 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)
Citizens should watch for their invitation to be counted, because every one counts! For more information, visit www.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.