Colusa County is planning to count as many residents as they can when the 2020 federal census gets underway next March.
The Colusa County Complete Count Committee held its first meeting last week to begin working on a strategic plan to make sure everyone is counted by Census Day, April 1.
Colusa County Human Health and Services Director Elizabeth Kelly said a complete and accurate count of California’s population, typically the hardest in the country to enumerate, is essential.
“The idea for us is to coordinate an outreach effort,” Kelly said. “We’re all kind of involved in this because there are financial consequences when not everyone is counted.”
The 2020 census is important because responses are used to help determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds annually are spent across the country, a U.S. Census Bureau official said. Those funds are used for services like emergency response, fire departments, clinics, and hospitals.
Results from the 2020 Census will also determine congressional representation for each state, and are used by states to draw state legislative and school district lines.
Local partners include Colusa County First Five, One-Stop, school districts, non-profit organizations, Colusa County Library, health agencies, media, and other agencies who will help combat misconceptions and barriers to participation.
“The steering committee will have a major role in raising awareness of the census,” Kelly said.
The focus of the committee will be on Colusa County’s hard-to-reach population, particularly the Latino population (regardless of legal status), the homeless population, tribal members, farm laborers, and those with literacy challenges.
With so much federal money at stake, the California Legislature has invested $154.3 million to bolster the state’s efforts at getting everyone counted. Colusa County received $25,000 for outreach efforts.
Kelly estimated that only 70 percent of Colusa County was counted in the 2010 census, and that the committee would be making a greater effort to get a higher participation rate in 2020.
The U.S. Constitution requires a count of all persons living in the United States on Census Day, regardless of citizenship or legal status.
Information about the 2020 Census will be mailed to most addresses beginning in mid-March 2020. People can respond online, by mail, or by phone. If no response is received, a census taker will come to the residence to follow up in person.
Those who do not have internet access will be encouraged to visit their local branch of the Colusa County Library. ■