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Beginning in March, the U.S Census Bureau will begin its count of the nation’s residents. Mandated by the Constitution every 10 years, the census informs a broad range of planning, policy making, and funding decisions made by the federal government.

In Oregon, the impact of the census on young children and families is significant, which is why Children’s Institute and others are supporting broad efforts to ensure that everyone in the state participates in the count. Programs like Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), special education and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) are all tied to population statistics developed through the census.

A task force created after the 2010 census identified a number of hard-to-count communities. Among those groups are children under 5, immigrants, rural residents, and those with disabilities. This year, the hope is that additional outreach efforts will help to ensure that those communities are represented in the final tally. The Census Bureau is also adding language to the census questionnaire that offers more specific instructions to include foster children, grandchildren, and children who are not blood relatives.

An image from the We Count Oregon campaign

We Count Oregon is organizing the state’s hard-to-count campaign working with a broad coalition of advocacy and policy organizations. Their website includes a number of resources to support participation, including a social media kit, training and event opportunities, and even a downloadable coloring book.

“We project that about 6 percent of Oregon residents are children under 5 and that means we need to reach all of their parents and guardians to compel them to accurately report these little ones to ensure they get the funding for services they deserve,” says Mandy Yeahpau, We Count Oregon’s communications director.

The Census Bureau is also running a Census in Schools campaign with specific resources for educators.

And Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit arm of the organization behind the iconic children’s show, has also joined in the effort, with a set of print and digital materials that can be downloaded and shared.

Households should begin receiving census information March 12, with the option to complete their form online, by phone, or through the mail.

 

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