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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Official: Census key to funding

 

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

From left, Jan Nelson, Juana Wilson, Ramona Herrera, Carla Hutcherson, LisaMarie Mendez, Garry Nelson and Steve Payne at a recent Shafter Rotary Club meeting.

Carla Hutcherson, partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, spoke to the Shafter Rotary Club at a recent meeting, telling the crowd about the importance of all Californians being counted in this year's census.

"The amount of funding that we receive on a county, state and local level depends a lot on the results of the upcoming census," she said in her presentation. "We must participate in the census in order to take advantage of all the funds that are available from the federal government."

Hutcherson also wanted people to understand that the information given on the census form is completely confidential and cannot be shared with any other governmental agencies.

Over the past year, a campaign has been running to prepare states and local communities for the official counting. Census data impacts funding for things as education programs, public transportation, Medicare and Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, libraries and other service organizations and agencies.

There has been reluctance to participate among a good number of communities because a large percentage of residents fear they might face ramifications for not being documented or having family members who are not documented.

"This is not the case," said Angelica Vasquez, media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau Partnership. "People can participate in the census without fear. It is important that they are counted to get an accurate count and to make sure our residents get what they deserve in assistance."

Hutcherson said the process is very easy. "It only takes five or 10 minutes and is totally confidential."

So far, Kern County is reported to have a response rate of 20%. This means that over 20 percent of the population of Kern County has self-reported. Some of the outlying rural areas of Kern County are lagging behind the larger cities in the reports. Shafter currently has a response rate of 18.2%, below the county average by 2% and behind the State of California by 5%. The City of Wasco is even further behind, with only a little over 15% of its residents participating in the census so far.

 

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