For most of us, beyond voting, we don’t get many opportunities to participate in matters of constitutional significance at the federal level. 2020 will be different. Next April, each of us has the opportunity to participate in something that has taken place in the United States every 10 years since 1790: the decennial census. Required by the constitution (Article I, Section 2) the U.S. Census serves two very important functions:

  • Representation: The census count is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. It’s in our best interest to have the citizens of California, including all Head Start families, to be proportionally represented in Congress.
  • Redistricting: California’s We Draw the Lines committee will use census data to redraw congressional and state legislative boundaries based on the census results.

Head Start California will be engaged in supporting the U.S. Census in 2020 because one of the Hard-to-Count populations is children aged 0-5. We need to count the kids!

Did you know? The census impacts federal funding levels. In California, it’s estimated that each person will generate $2,000 each year for 10 years. So, a family of four will generate $80,000 in federal funding for California over the next decade. Not being counted would be expensive.

As we ramp up for this very important work, it will be critical that our families have confidence in two facts:

  1. No citizenship question. Given all the attention and concern regarding question of citizenship, we can rest assured that the United States Supreme Court’s June 27 decision has removed the citizenship question requested by the administration.
  2. Answers are confidential. Federal law protects individual responses. They can be used only for statistical purposes and cannot be shared with immigration or law-enforcement agencies or be used to determine eligibility for government benefits.

We are excited about this opportunity to not only ensure that all children in California are fully counted, but to actively participate in our democracy. Of all the things we might teach our children, perhaps the most important among them may be passing on this “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” to the next generation.

Christopher Maricle
Executive Director
Head Start California