While the immediate benefits of the census in 2020 includes opportunities for temporary jobs the long term effects of the survey impact funding and chances for another seat for Colorado in Congress.

Beginning April 1, census taking efforts will start ; to make things easier for people the 2020 census will be available to be taken online. Safety concerns about taking the survey online may be warranted but Census Partnership Specialist Dustin Senger ensured that the data would be safe.

“When they complete the census that data can only go one direction online,” Senger said.

The information won’t bounce around between other governmental agencies and will instead go straight to the census. Invitations for self response where individuals can fill out the survey will be March 12.

“If they do it right away . . . that stops everything,” he said.

Unless the survey is not completely filled out, which will trigger quality control where people will call to see what your answers to the unanswered questions are. Self responses will be available through July.

But what makes the census important for the community?

“The data is dollars,” Senger said.

Funding for different programs, like funding for schools in particular is connected to the data taken from the census. Senger said that funding for Head Start programs is connected to census data and because of the data pulled has brought in 156 million dollars for Colorado.

“The hardest to count age group is children under 5,” he said.

It can be hard for many families to decipher how and where to count their children, which according to Senger has amounted to 5% of children under 5 being excluded from the census.

Some of the reasoning for this is cultural reasons where families may not think of their children as members of the household. Or maybe their children spend part of the time in a different area of the state or country with family members during the year.

One example he gave was a child who spends 10 months out of the year in Bent County and 2 in a different county within Colorado. In that case the child would be counted as a Bent County resident. For a child who spends their time 50/50 between two counties, they would be counted as a resident of whatever county they are in on April 1.

If those 5% are missed Senger said that there could be around 17,000 kids not counted in Colorado come 2020. The ramifications of that could be detrimental for those kids and school districts futures.

Senger also brought up the issue of low response rates in rural communities like Bent and Crowley County who had low rates in some areas. This low response rate can be deter future planning efforts for those areas. One example he brought up is funding for roads, like changing a two lane highway into a four lane highway.

Future funding based off of census data can be highly impactful for the future of the area, but it can also potentially net Colorado another congressional seat.

“We’ve got a lot of population growth in the state. So a complete and accurate count is likely to get us another voice in Washington,” he said.

So whether you fill out the survey online, by mail or by phone the accuracy and completion of the census 2020 survey could be beneficial for the counties and state as a whole. More information about the census will be rolled out in presentations like the one in Bent County on Oct. 2, so to learn more stay tuned for those.

jconlan@ljtdmail.com