While the immediate benefits of the census in 2020 includes opportunities for temporary jobs, the long-term effects of the survey include impact funding and a possible additional seat in Congress.

Beginning April 1, census-taking efforts will begin. And to make things easier for people, the 2020 census will be available to be taken online. Census Partnership Specialist Dustin Senger said 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 instead will go straight to the census. Invitations for self-response where individuals can fill out the survey will be March 12.

If the census is not completely and correctly filled out, a census official 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 such as funding for schools is connected to the data taken. Senger said that funding for Head Start programs is connected to census data, saying that information 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 in which 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 two in a different county within Colorado. In that case you would count the child as a Bent County resident. For a child who spends their time 50/50 between two counties, you would count the child as a resident of whatever county they are in on April 1.

If those 5% are missed, Senger said that there could be about 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 such as Bent and Crowley County who had low rates in some areas. This low response rate can deter future planning efforts for those areas. One example he brought up is funding for roads, such as 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 also could 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 such as the one that was held in Bent County on Oct. 2.

jconlan@ljtdmail.com