(This article was taken from an original story Hart wrote for Liberty Life Magazine in June. Hart is the coordinator for Liberty County’s Census program.)
This coming spring, data will be collected for the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census will document the changes in the nation since the last decennial census in 2010. Since census data influences how $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to tribal, state and local governments, the census also will frame the future of the United States and local communities for the next 10 years.
During Census 2010, the Liberty County mail-in participation rate was 71 percent. For every person counted, various organizations in Liberty County received roughly $1,500 per person per year for 10 years. This is a $94 million per year impact in Liberty County for services such as Medicaid, Medicare Part B, SNAP, highway planning & construction, housing vouchers, Title Grants to schools, school lunch programs, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), Special Education Grants, Head Start, WIC, homeless programs, childcare funding, Foster Care, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, and numerous other programs.
With the upcoming census, Liberty County leaders are seeking to learn how much our community has changed so they can receive appropriate political representation and federal funding to provide services and safety for all. During the 2019 Liberty County Annual Countywide Planning Workshop, the 2020 Census was selected as the No. 2 priority for the county. Due to the importance of the census to our community, local leaders provided funding to support 2020 Census outreach efforts.
In March 2020, every residence in our community will be able to fill out the 2020 Census online or request to complete the census by phone or mail. It takes less than 10 minutes. From these responses, we will be able to see how our community has changed and use that data to plan for the future. Lack of participation can result in our community receiving less federal funding and less access to essential services and resources that we might otherwise have received, so it’s crucial that citizens make time for the 2020 Census.
Citizens’ Census answers are safe and confidential. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share your answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
April 1, 2020 is Census Day, the official day of the population count. Responses to the census form should include everyone who will be living at that address as of that day. (It is not necessary to wait until Census Day to complete the 2020 Census form, however. Forms should be returned as quickly as possible.) People should be counted where they live or sleep most of the time as of this date.
The individual in whose name the housing unit is rented or owned should complete the form on behalf of every person living there, both relatives and non-relatives.
The 2020 Census language assistance program will help non-English-speakers submit their Census forms. The Census Bureau will provide bilingual forms in English and Spanish to households in areas with high concentrations of Spanish-only speakers. Forms will also be available upon request in five languages in addition to English: Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) will be available to assist those unable to read or understand the census form. A Language Assistance Guide also will be available in 59 languages at all QAC locations. All Language Assistance Guides will be available to download or print at 2020census.gov.
The easiest and most efficient method of participating is filling out your form online. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) will be available to assist those unable to read or understand the census form. For those with visual impairments, the Language Assistance Guide will be available in large print and Braille. Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who do not have access to Video Relay Service (VRS) will be able to call a TDD number.
For more information on Liberty 2020 Census, visit www.census.libertycountyga.com or call (912) 334-2790.