Ensure children count in the 2020 Census: It will help our schools

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By Marlenee Blas, Associate Director, Center for Social Innovation – UC Riverside and UCR Counts Committee

In light of the recent debates about reopening schools, Latino communities, among other diverse groups, call for us to properly enumerate children in the 2020 Census. Our government leaders, school boards, and elected officials rely on Census data to inform decisions that have a direct impact on our school operations. In addition, federal funding helps support more than 100 programs, including those that directly impact the welfare of children across our region. These programs include Medicaid, Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Child Care and Development Block Grant. The time to ensure that all students and children are counted in the 2020 Census is more important than ever as the need for funding, childcare, and safety measures for opening schools become exacerbated by COVID-19. 

According to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO Educational Fund), “Approximately 400,000 young Latino children ages 0 to 4 were left uncounted by the 2010 Census.” For our region, this is an urgent call given that Riverside County was among the ten counties with the highest net undercount of Latino children, per the latest NALEO Hazme Contar Report. The undercount could have long-lasting effects for our schools, it’s infrastructure and programs. It must be clear to our community that everyone counts, regardless of age and regardless of citizenship status. 

What can we do? The good news is that by filling out the 2020 Census today, we help our children and our schools secure a brighter future. Successfully enumerating Latino children could mean more child care centers, better staffing, and enough meals for our schools. According to the Center for Social Innovation, a partner of the local Census IE effort, the Inland Empire is home to over 972,000 immigrants and many of which may feel turned away from participating in the Census. However, we should turn fear of participating in the 2020 Census into energy, power, and fuel participation so we can grow the investments in this region. Counting immigrants, children, and all diverse groups will help policymakers better support school districts and design programs that fully meet the needs of children and in turn the future for our region.  

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As an educator at UC Riverside and resident of the Inland Empire, the Census is personally relevant to my work and my community. I invite you to take part in shaping the next 10 years of the Inland Empire by taking 10 minutes to fill out the 2020 Census. The questionnaire can be completed online, over the phone, or by mail. Your response will ensure we have an accurate count and in turn, this could mean a more equitable distribution of resources for our schools. To fill out your 2020 Census form visit https://my2020census.gov  or call the Spanish response line at 844-468-2020.

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