08 N2004P64022CThe demographic that has proven to be most undercounted in the United States is children under age 6. We simply forget to count our kids when we complete the census survey. This is problematic as the census is only conducted every 10 years, yet we have babies and need services for those babies (and prenatal services) every year. While we may not be able to predict where children will be born and serviced in advance, we can do a better job by the children already living in our community.

Have you ever planned a party for 10 but have 30 people show up? This is what an undercount in the census looks like. The census, a federally mandated, population count, strives to determine how many people live in the .U.S — regardless of citizenship, race or age. This is an important part of our democratic process because it involves all persons. The census then determines how much funding will be applied to federal programs. These programs include Child and Adult Care Food Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, or SNAP; and Head Start — just to name a few. Then the programs disperse the monies they are given to and within states based on population.

In a presentation I attended conducted by N.C. Child, it was said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2018, the child population of North Carolina was 2,442,881. For a demographic or community to be considered “hard to count,” the mail-in response for 2010 had to be less than 73%. That means in North Carolina as a whole, we missed out, for the last 10 years, on a lot of money for the programs for our children. In Cumberland County, we have missed out on valuable resources such as funding to pay teachers for our Head Start programs, funding for meals for our school lunch program, as well as resources for our WIC programs. In a recent presentation I attended given by Cumberland County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Communication Lindsay Whitley, he stated that approximately 78% of Cumberland County students are receiving free/reduced lunch. That program is a part of the census funded Child Food Program.

Please consider doing your part in Cumberland County obtaining a complete count this decennial. To do so, complete your 2020 census. You can complete the survey by completing and returning the mailer that was sent to your home. If you did not receive a mailer, or if you prefer, you can complete the survey online via https://my2020census.gov/ . Or call 1-844-330-2020. If English is not your primary language, the internet and phone options are available in 12 other languages. This process is quick, anonymous and protected by U.S. Constitution. We do not want to make the mistake of another undercount here in Cumberland County. We want our children in Cumberland County to receive the tax monies that should be appropriated to them.

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