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Children in the 2020 Census: Funding for Federal Programs Tied to Accurate Census Count

Resource November 5, 2019

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau at the U.S. Department of Commerce conducts a nationwide census to count all U.S. residents. Among other things, Census results determine how federal funds are distributed to localities across the country, and the data also helps determine the number of seats states have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, the census has a history of undercounting young children — and the 2020 survey poses a risk of shortchanging the nation’s official population count by more than 2 million kids younger than age 5, according to experts.

The problem here isn’t just an inaccuracy in a number, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “It’s an error that could spur budgetary shortfalls in states with long-term and serious consequences for children and families.”

That’s because hundreds of federal programs like Head Start, CCDBG, and more, use census data to determine population counts and characteristics and then disburse funds accordingly. The United States Census Bureau has made a recent push to ensure that children under the age of 5 are counted accurately in the census by educating families on the importance of including all children who live in the home on their 2020 census forms.

Count All Kids — a group of national, state and local children’s organizations and allies that have joined together to ensure our nation’s children are counted in the 2020 Census — has been working with the Census Bureau to help them improve their plans to reach out to families with young children.

The coalition is supporting state and local advocates that want to get their states and communities to form Complete Count Committees that will work to get people to fill out the census questionnaire. They’re also collecting and developing materials for state and local advocates to work with their Complete Count Committees to pay special attention to reaching families with young children.

To learn more about the work of Count All Kids and find ways you can get involved to ensure the 2020 Census conducts an accurate count of families with young children, visit

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