Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Census Prep Begins Targeting Underserved Areas

MIAMI - Exactly one year from Monday, the official count of every resident of the United States begins with the 2020 Census. 

But Florida has long had problems getting an accurate count of its children. 

Nearly 1 million children were missed in the last census, according to data from Florida KIDS COUNT

It's a major concern, because the census count determines the federal dollars allocated to communities, as well as how they're represented in Congress. 

Donovan Lee-Sin, public policy and community engagement officer for The Children's Trust, says at least 200,000 children could go uncounted, simply because their families are hard to reach. 

"So, areas where you have high influence of minority households, immigrant households, multi-family housing, and so it is - it's a particular challenge for our state," Lee-Sin says.

Florida has the fourth highest number of young children living in areas considered hard to count. 

Lee-Sin says it's important to meet that challenge to ensure everyone is counted. 

Florida gained two additional representatives after the 2010 census, and received more than $44 billion in federal dollars to support government programs. 

Lee-Sin says the highest rate of under-count rests with the youngest Floridians - from birth to age four. 

To avoid it requires significant outreach to families, and letting them know why it's important to fill the forms out accurately. 

"Having an undercount and not taking stock of such a significant percentage of our population means that federal budgeting or appropriations - for things that support public education or highway or housing or road construction - may mean that we get a lesser amount than we should get," Lee-Sin explains

Lee-Sin is encouraging everyone to be on the lookout for the census forms and to start having conversations with friends and family about participating. 

He adds there will be multiple opportunities to fill out forms including online, by standard mail, via phone and in some cases with in-person visit by a census representative.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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