INDIANAPOLIS – The Census Bureau and Count Me Indy are on a final campaign push, encouraging Hoosiers to fill out their Census forms.
The Census, which aims to count everyone living in the United States, helps determine how the federal government distributes money to state and local governments and specific programs.
Because the census is taking place amid a pandemic, organizations like Count Me Indy had to cancel their community events at local libraries and neighborhoods. Then, the Census Bureau announced it was changing the deadline and would need everyone counted by September 30th, 2020 instead of October.
“Now, they’re saying because of the operational deadlines and things they have to have to the president by the end of the year, our deadline is actually September 30th,” Callie Kennington of Count Me Indy told CBS4.
As of September 15th, Count Me Indy said the self-response rate from Indianapolis homes was 65.1 percent. Between self-response, door-to-door counting and public outreach, about 88 percent of Marion County homes had filled out their paperwork.
“If we don’t have an accurate count, we will simply not have the amount of money we should have the resources we should have to support our community,” Kennington said.
One organization that is concerned is The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis. It serves about 6,000 youth in the metro.
“We provide out of school time programming, character and leadership development, health and life skills programs, academic success and college and career readiness programs,” LeAnne Harris, the Senior Director of Club Operations, said. “If we go away, there are a lot of young people and unmet needs.”
Harris said it costs $4.8 million to run the program. About a third of that comes from federal funding. The money is especially needed since the the organization was forced to shut down in March due to the pandemic and then reopened with a limited amount of kids.
“So, you’re at a critical point here,” anchor Angela Brauer asked.
“We are,” Harris said.
The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis said if people did not fill out the census and their federal funding was cut, they would likely need to close their 12 school sites.
“We have to provide meals so it’s very important,” Harris stressed.
Count Me Indy wanted to clarify a few things:
- The information you turn in on your census cannot be used or seen by anyone, including ICE or the president, for 72 years
- Everyone who was sleeping in your household as of April 1st, 2020 should be counted on your census. That includes children ages 0-4, who account for the most undercounted demographic nationwide
- Students who attended college should fill out the census where they were supposed to be residing. In other words, if your teen was attending Indiana University but headed home early due to the pandemic, Count Me Indy says they should fill out the census as though they were living on campus
US Census workers are going door-to-door to try and get everyone counted.
“Please get your census form filled out. It impacts not only Boys and Girls Clubs but so many youth serving and family serving organizations in ways that I think people just don’t realize,” Harris said, in one final plea.
“Think of the resources they’ll use! Free and reduced school lunch programs, the national school lunch programs, after school programs that support them, possibly SNAP, possibly health services, mental health services and funded by the census, programs that support people with disabilities,” Kennington added. “That’s crucial to have that support for those services.”