Even with a pandemic forcing everyone to shelter at home, the business of government marches on.
That includes the Census, that once a decade count of the U.S. population that is vital to so many functions of government — from apportioning seats in the House of Representatives, to redrawing boundaries between those seats and State and County offices, to figuring out how much money will come to your community through the myriad of government programs that are apportioned based on population.
The U.S. Census Bureau is required by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to conduct an accurate count of the population every 10 years, reads a staff report from the County. “Census data is used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and in redistricting of state legislatures, county boards of supervisors and city councils.”
Census data is also used to allocate federal funding to the States and counties in schools, crime prevention, healthcare and other areas. “The decennial census is a huge undertaking that requires cross-sector collaboration and partnerships among governmental and community organizations,” said the County.
And because the Census is mostly being done online this year for the first time in history, the Bureau’s budget was slashed. “Because of this, support and participation from state and local governments will be critical to achieving complete, fair and accurate count,” said the County.
The State appropriated more than $180 million to increase its efforts to get the biggest turnout for the 2020 Census. Counties got $26.5 million to split and SLO County got $100,000 of that money and plans to carry out its own Census promotions. County Supervisors on Jan. 15 agreed to accept that money and participate in Census outreach.
On Feb. 25, the County got another $8,400 from the State to cover print materials for its official efforts under the so-called County of San Luis Obispo Complete Count Committee or CCC, focused on the hard to count segments of society
“Those materials, including banners, posters and fact sheets have been distributed to various County departments and to our SLO CCC partners,” the County said.
Naturally, the County hired a consultant. “In November of 2019, the County entered into an agreement with Verdin Marketing, Inc. to create localized promotional materials and marketing for the County to promote the Census.”
“Hard to count” populations include students, Spanish speakers or residents concerned about immigration status, the homeless and seniors.
Verdin, working with SLO CCC, developed a “tool kit” for SLO CCC and other partners “to use in their outreach efforts, including County-specific social media graphics and captions and motion graphic videos. Additionally, digital advertisements through various social media will be continuously featured from March 12 through April 30.”
The State required the County set up a “Census Questionnaire Assistance Center” for people who don’t’ speak English very well. The QAC is located in the Paso Robles City Library because that’s where the least number of people answer the Census due to the language issue.
County residents can reach QAC staff by phone during operational hours. The QAC will operate on Thursday and Friday afternoons, as well as Saturday mornings through April 25.
The County set aside some of its funding for “non-response follow” up in April. The Census Bureau was to start providing some information about response rates in late March and the County will see about what efforts would be taken at that time to try and get everyone counted.
Readers should have gotten Census information in the mail already and there’s also national a helpline to call, 1-844-330-2020, if you need assistance.