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Local agencies working for accurate 2020 census count

U.S. Census Day isn’t until April 1 of next year but much is being done in Colusa County between now and then to make sure everyone gets counted.

The Colusa County Complete Count Committee said the decennial exercise is a massive undertaking, but they are still counting on every household’s participation.

“It’s going to be here before we know it,” said Colusa County Health and Human Service Director Elizabeth Kelly, who heads the Colusa County Complete Count Committee.

Many local agencies are working together to reach out to people through the libraries, churches, schools, community events, and local and Spanish language media to make sure people get counted, particularly populations that are difficult to count, including non-English speaking and immigrant communities, those living in poverty, people living in isolated areas, and those living with no or limited broadband services.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population of those living in the country regardless of legal status, be conducted once every 10 years. The data is then used to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress and how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses.

An accurate account is especially important to school districts in Colusa County that receive federal Title 1 supplemental funds to assist the schools in meeting the educational goals of a large number of low-income students, district officials said.

“To us it’s huge,” said Carol Geyer, superintendent at Pierce Joint Unified School District and member of the local Complete Count Committee.

In 2010, officials estimated that more than 30 percent of the county’s population went uncounted, leaving local agencies with less funding.

“Ten years is a long time to wait with inaccurate information,” said Mike West, Colusa County superintendent of schools.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s first field operation in address canvasing started Aug. 12.

Address canvassing improves and refines the Census Bureau’s address list of households nationwide, which is necessary to deliver invitations to respond to the census. The address list plays a vital role in ensuring a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States.

“The Census Bureau is dedicated to ensuring that we are on track, and ready to accomplish the mission of the 2020 Census,” said Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, in a statement. “We have made many improvements and innovations over the past decade, including better technologies for canvassing neighborhoods and developing complete and updated address listings and maps.”

The U.S. Census Bureau will send notices out in the mail in March inviting people to respond to the census online.

Local agencies, including the libraries, will provide opportunities to complete the census online for those who do not have Internet access.

There is no cost associated with the census, and people are cautioned to avoid being scammed by offers to fill out their census form by paying a small fee. ■

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