When many of us think of 2020, our immediate thoughts go toward it being a presidential election year. Most of us will head to the polls because we want to make sure our vote counts. But there is another, perhaps equally important form we should fill out prior to the November bid for president – the 2020 Census. Read on to learn how the Census can help improve your community.
The Census isn’t just a way for the U.S. to figure out the racial and ethnic landscape of the country. It’s also how federal agencies divvy up funding for services in our communities, how our communities plan for the future and how we are all represented in government.
In fact, the 2020 Census website explains that it uses the data collected specifically for “public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments, [to] plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods, and [to] determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.” If you’re someone who cares about casting your ballot in election years, then the latter point should be of interest to you as it reiterates the importance of making sure your vote truly counts.
I already completed my family’s Census. It took all of five minutes or so to do from my laptop. While I would have submitted the Census no matter what, it was especially important to me this year because I’m a first-time mom to a 14-month-old little boy. Knowing my clicks will impact his future made filling out the Census not just a civic duty to my country but also obligation to him.
I want my son to have the best opportunities to learn in school; to have accessible parks to play tag and swing from the monkey bars; to listen to story time and have the world open up to him with trips to the library; to make sure the laws being set at a national level truly represent and benefit him.
And my hopes and dreams don’t stop at my son – they extend to all children. That’s why the Census matters and that’s why the work we do at Voices for Healthy Kids matters.
The Census gives Voices for Healthy Kids a holistic view at community needs. It helps us understand where children live and how we might be able to improve local and state policies to help them live up to their full potential.
For example, we use data from the Census to ensure our policy priorities are helping the kids that need complete streets, school wellness and healthy food the most. We can also help create policies that allow for more active, equitable communities, improve access to healthy foods and drinks, and increase opportunities for equity in schools and in early care and education programs. All of these measures can vastly improve health and quality of life for children, their families and the communities in which they live.
Foregoing the Census hurts my son and millions of children like him. It means our nation’s children and the communities in which they reside cannot live up to their full potential. That is simply unacceptable.
So before you head to the polls for president this fall, I urge you to fill out an equally important form this spring – the 2020 Census. The future of our communities, our states and our nation truly depends on it.