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What You Can Do Now to be Prepared for the 2020 Census

April 1, 2019
Once each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States.
The next enumeration will be April 1, 2020 and will be the first to rely heavily on online responses. In addition to determining federal representation, the census is used to distribute federal funding to states and local governments. In California, more than 70 federal programs that benefit our residents use the Census data and population counts as part of their funding formulas, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, as well as funding for roads, school programs and lunches, children’s health insurance, Head Start and foster care.

California’s leaders have invested $100.3 million toward a statewide outreach and communication campaign and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2019-20 State Budget includes an additional $54 million, for a proposed total of $154.3 million investment for the 2020 Census.

The California Census Office is hosting a kick-off event on April 2 at the State Capitol to jump-start the public awareness of the 2020 Census. Cities are encouraged to adopt a resolution recognizing the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census. For more information on what cities can do to be involved, visit the League’s 2020 Census resource page, explore the California Census Office website and read about additional resources available from the National League of Cities (NLC).

Five Ways to Prepare Your City for Next Year’s Census
The below article was published in NLC’s CitiesSpeak
The Census Bureau has spent the past nine years preparing for the country’s largest domestic mobilization effort: the count of every individual in America based on where they reside on and around April 1, 2020. This upcoming Monday marks one year out from the long-awaited “Census Day.”

Now is the time for cities to lay the groundwork for a successful census. Small steps your community takes today can go a long way in ensuring it is accurately counted next year. Here are five steps to consider in 2019:
Get Familiar with NLC’s 2020 Census Resource Center and Municipal Action Guide
The National League of Cities (NLC) has spent the past year developing and curating a host of resources to answer any questions local leaders may have relating to the upcoming census. Local leaders can read and share our resources widely at
Designate a Point of Contact for Census Preparedness in Your Community
Who’s in charge for your local government? Cities, towns and villages should consider designating a point of contact for local census preparedness operations. Different communities will have different levels of need or resources for census preparedness but tasking one lead person can help ensure communication with your city is clear and efficient. For larger cities, this may mean a new dedicated staffer; for smaller communities, this may mean designating an existing employee in your Office of Community Engagement or Planning Office. Once designated, make sure your census contact is plugged into NLC’s Local Census Preparedness Network by completing our survey.
Work in Tandem with Census Bureau Staff and Regional Offices
The Bureau already operates six regional offices; it will be opening more than 200 field offices, and will continue to hire partnership specialists to work with municipal partners to ensure coordination across levels of government. Local governments serve as a critical partner in helping the Bureau know where to count residents—make sure to respond to Bureau inquiries and share data you may have to identify hard-to-count neighborhoods in your community. Also be sure to notify the Bureau if your community forms a complete count committee.
Find the Trusted Voices in Your Community and Get them Onboard
Local government remains the most trusted level of the government in survey after survey. Still, a growing climate of fear and declining trust in civic institutions has left some populations distrustful of all levels of government. Residents need to hear from community voices they trust: educators, small business owners, medical professionals, religious leaders, community activists and local media. Local leaders are uniquely positioned to convene these voices and make sure they understand what an accurate count means to your community.
Form a Complete Count Committee
As mentioned, to ensure a complete and accurate count, you need to engage your community and develop trusted voices to provide information and motivation to residents of your city. One proven tool is the Complete Count Committee (CCC), a volunteer organizing body created at the local level to increase awareness of and participation in the census. In the 2010 cycle, more than 10,000 CCCs were formed around the country.

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