The Importance of Counting Children in the 2020 Census

Steve Adubato talks with Peter Chen, Policy Counsel, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, about the upcoming 2020 Census and how it is crucial for all children in New Jersey to be included in the Census count.

6/1/19 #312






"State of Affairs is pleased to welcome Peter Chen, Policy Counsel for an organization called Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Advocating for the children of New Jersey every day. This is part of our ongoing conversation, a part of our series called Right From the Start NJ. Zero to three, prenatal care as well. Peter we work with your organization on a lot of issues to try to understand the impact, particularly for poor children or children in inner-city, disadvantaged areas. Right. You've said that the 2010 Census that the federal government runs has undercounted, misrepresented the number of children in inner-city areas, Newark, Jersey City, other places, and it's devastating. Talk about it. So the census determines funding for a wide range of government... federal funding? That's right. But many state programs also are based on census counts. So the federal count of the total number of residents in different areas determines funding for things like schools, Head Start, child care, healthcare, Medicaid. So huge programs. And basically every federal program that you can think of that benefits low-income children and families depends on census counts in order to determine the funding. And when children are not counted, as happened in 2010, the amount of funding is lower than it needs to be for the total population that area is. Peter Chen, why weren't these children counted? Well many children live in what are called hard to count areas, areas where it might be harder to count people because it's a low-income area. People may not speak English or simply because there are multiple residences in one location. So if it's a rental property, if it's an apartment building, or if there are multiple rental units all in the same house, those may be areas where the mailer that goes out might not be counted. But one of the big factors for why children are undercounted, and particularly very young children, is because the family, or the householder, omits them from the form. You know, they just leave them off the form. Right. And it's not because necessarily they don't know that the child lives there, but that children may not be included for... they may not be considered like a person that needs to be counted on the census, and they're... but that's a misconception of... Absolutely. the census works? And why is it disproportionately in urban areas like Jersey City and Newark? Well so there are a few factors that have been shown to be linked with leaving kids off the census. Those who are living in a racial or ethnic minority household, living in a house of s... the household where no adult speaks English very..."