Wasco Tribune - Serving the community since 1970

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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Responses lagging for 2020 Census


Last updated 6/13/2020 at 6:15am | View PDF

Census participation is running behind expectations in the Shafter and Wasco areas.

The 2020 Census has been in motion for months, and the response from this area has been well below the state average, leading Census Bureau staff to take action in attempting to increase the local response numbers.

Shafter is lagging behind the average percentage for Kern County, with about a 54% response rate. Wasco is further behind, with a rate of 53%.

There are varying opinions on reasons for low response. At a conference held at the Larry E. Reider Institute last year, several authorities said that a large number of people hesitate to participate in the census because of a fear that their personal information would be used for other purposes. "We try to reiterate to the community that all of the data collected during the census is confidential and cannot be used for any other purpose," said Carla Hutcherson, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau. "They don't realize that if they do not participate in the census program, it will adversely affect many programs that they are entitled to that would help them in their daily lives."

As a nation, Americans have responded to the 2020 Census at about 60% so far. Originally, the numbers would be getting prepared about now, tallies getting reported and leaders commenting on the direction that the available funds would be going.

But, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic essentially shutting down entire communities, the deadline for census has been extended into October 2020.

According to Hutcherson, a lot of people do not realize the importance of participating in the census. "The Census helps determine the amount of funds that communities receive for a large variety of programs. These programs include schools, Healthy Start and so many more programs that help residents thrive."

Census results influence highway planning, public transportation, as well as schools. Local schools are allocated so much for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education. Programs that support rural areas, prevent child abuse and help provide housing assistance for older adults are also affected.

From disaster planning to small business development, Medicare Part B to highway construction, policymakers use census data to plan and fund many programs that affect rural communities.

To aid in the effort to increase the response rates, the Census Bureau is inviting the public to participate in the 2020 Census Car Caravan Weekend, June 19-21. A parade of cars will drive through a strategically selected route. Each car in the caravan displays messaging to raise awareness of the 2020 Census.

Their goal is to increase participation in communities across the country. They are also encouraging everyone to post pictures and videos of their caravans, taking pride in their communities along the way.

For more information, visit 2020census.gov.


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