Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census to count the country’s population.  Federal funds for many programs are distributed to the states according to the census counts.

The census directly impacts federal funding for schools and communities in New Jersey, including funding for special education, teacher training, school meals assistance, technology, Head Start and after-school programs. New Jersey receives nearly $23 billion in federal funding based on data from the 2010 census. It is estimated that 27,000 children (5.2%) under age 5 in New Jersey were missed by the 2010 census. If children are undercounted in the 2020 census, it will result in less funding for important public services.

Meanwhile, about 22% of New Jersey’s residents (almost 1.9 million people) live in an area that is considered by the U.S. Census Bureau to be “hard-to-count.” People particularly vulnerable to not being counted include immigrants, people of color, urban residents, children under 5, people living in multifamily housing, non-native English speakers, and the homeless. So it is especially important that communities do everything possible to ensure an accurate and complete count for Census 2020.

What Can Boards of Education and Schools Do to Help?

Here are some ideas how boards of education and schools can promote participation in the census.

  • Adopt a board resolution in support of a complete census count. Download a sample resolution here.
  • Make information about Census 2020 an item on every board agenda.
  • Share information about the census through social media platforms and districtwide newsletters. Messages about the importance of participating in the census can be incorporated into almost all school district activities, including school music recitals, sporting events, and school theater presentations.
  • Partner with local parent-teacher associations to stress the importance of the census. Information can be distributed at meetings and other events.
  • Urge your schools to incorporate census information in civics education lessons. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools program provides free activities and resources for teachers here.
  • Consider offering access to district facilities (library, computer lab, etc.) for families without internet access to complete the first-ever census response option in March-June 2020. Or, share guidance on how families can complete the census forms using hard copies or by phone: 2020census.gov/ways-to-respond.
  • Provide interpreters for families in need of language assistance when completing the form. Share information that the online form and telephone line will be available in 13 languages, and language guides will be available in 59 languages other than English: 2020census.gov/en/languages.

Model Board of Education Resolution

Here is a link to a model resolution your local board of education can pass in support of a complete census count.

Timeline: Key Census Dates

  • March 2020: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail and can begin responding to the 2020 census online at 2020census.gov. Replying by mail or phone is also an option.
  • April 1, 2020: National Official Census Day. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the Census. Respondents will tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
  • May-July 2020: Non-response follow-up beings: Census takers go door-to-door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel.
  • Dec. 31, 2020: The U.S. Census Bureau delivers the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives by state to the president.
  • 2021: Initial 2020 Census data made available to the public on census.gov.

Resources

N.J. Census 2020: New Jersey Department of State Toolkit 

U.S. Census Bureau: Census 2020 Website 

N.J. Commissioner of Education Calls for Schools to Promote Census Awareness

A memo from the state’s education commissioner calling for schools to encourage census participation.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) Census 2020

 ACNJ has a full toolkit of census information resources, including handouts in both English and Spanish.

Census Counts

Census Counts, a collaborative campaign involving national organizations and community partners in states, has compiled a listing of resources in an easy-to-use format.

Making Kids Count

 An article from the November/December issue of NJSBA’s School Leader magazine can be found here.