In fact, with the fallout from the pandemic expected to take a tremendous toll on the local economy, officials said participating in the 2020 may be more important than ever.
The biennial count of the country’s population largely determines how federal money will be distributed to states and counties for the next 10 years.
“An undercount would impact funding for schools, health services, childcare and emergency services, and those kinds of programs,” said Donna Dennis, 2020 census program manager at Colusa County Health and Human Service. “It also decides the number of congressional members and electoral college votes.”
About 60 percent of the U.S. have completed the census, but Colusa County still falls well below state and national figures, according to the National Census Bureau.
“With COVID, in general, everything was kind of put on hold,” Dennis said.
Now that government buildings are starting to open up, officials will begin again to reach out to citizens to complete the census questionnaires.
The federal deadline for completing the census has been extended until Oct. 31, although residents are encouraged not to wait.
“So far, our self reporting rate is at 43 percent, which is well below the California self response rate,” Dennis said.
About 61 percent of California has completed the census as of Friday, with 51.5 percent participating online. While completing the census online is quick, easy, and secure, a large portion of rural populations are hard to count because they lack internet access, officials said.
“For our county, we have a lot of people that may not have access to broadband and are unable to access completing the census online,” Dennis said. “My hope is that as the county opens and people have access to public sites, then we will see that number go up.”
The Department of Health and Human Services on Webster Street, in Colusa, opened on Friday, along with Behavioral Health on Carson Street. Both agencies have a computer pad available for people to take the census, Dennis said. Once the Library branches are reopened, county officials will resume census outreach, as will the Family Action Centers and other agencies.
The Census Bureau said activities will resume across the country this week to make sure everyone is counted, particularly children, whose numbers are important, officials said.
A newborn or toddler counted in the 2020 Census will be finishing elementary school by the time the next census is taken in 2030 Census, yet the federal funds that Colusa County communities will receive for services including those that benefit children, such as Head Start, special education, after-school programs, school lunch assistance, children’s health insurance, child care, and housing support.
“Being counted in the census impacts critical childhood services for the next 10 years” Dennis said.
According to the Census Bureau, there are many reasons young children are undercounted in the census. Research shows that children living with large, extended families, or with multiple families under one roof, are at greater risk of being missed. These children may have more than one home and may not be related to the person responding to the census for their household.
Children living in linguistically isolated or low-income households and those who recently moved may also be missed in the count. Newborns are also at higher risk of not being counted, officials said.
For anyone who has not completed the census and needs help, there is assistance available. For more information, visit or call Colusa County HHS at 458-
“We have much more outreach to do as a county, and we want to remind the community how important this is,” Dennis said.