Every ten years a constitutionally-mandated census is conducted by the United States Census Bureau to determine the distribution of the nation’s population. With the 2020 Census fast approaching, efforts by several organizations are underway to ensure that census takers are able to gather a complete count of everyone in the nation. Read more about the importance of a complete count below.
Why is a complete count important?
An accurate Census count is important in a number of ways. Everything from determining the number of congressional seats and electoral votes that Texas receives to where new jobs are created and how much federal aid communities receive is based on population data collected in the Census. As the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) notes, “billions of dollars in federal aid depend on the accuracy of the Census, including significant support for health care, housing, transportation, food and more. Being undercounted by even one percent in 2020 could result in a significant loss in federal funding for Texas — at least $300 million a year.”  To explore areas of the country with the Highest to Count (HTC) census tracts, check out CUNY Center for Urban Research’s HTC map pictured below.
Texas has been historically undercounted. In the 2010 Census, undercounted communities included rural counties, people of color, immigrants, college towns, large metropolitan areas, and young children. Young children, in particular, have been among the hardest to count groups in the state, with an estimated 30% of children under the age of five at risk of not being counted in the next census. According to the CPPP, “if Texas children aren’t counted, our state could lose billions of federal dollars over the next decade for programs that give kids a healthy start in life: education, school lunches, Head Start, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally ‘food stamps’) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”  To learn more about the specific implications of not gathering a complete count of children in your community, watch the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s video “Count All Kids”. 
What actions can be taken locally to ensure a complete count?
On April 1st, the City of Austin and Travis County launched their campaign to ensure that everyone in Austin-Travis County is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census.  As part of their efforts, the two authorities have also announced that they will be involved in the Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee. Complete Count Committees (CCCs) are important in the roles that they play in bringing together governments, organizations, and leaders to educate the public about the importance of the Census and to address factors that could result in low response rates. While establishing and engaging with CCCs is one of the primary ways to work towards accomplishing a complete count, there are other actions that can be taken to engage the public in reaching this goal. These include identifying barriers and challenges in HTC neighborhoods through public meetings and identifying trusted local leaders who can assist in planning efforts. 
 “2020 Census: Texas Needs to Invest in a Statewide Complete Count Committee”. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019
 “2020 Census: A fair and accurate count is critical for Texas kids”. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019
 The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Count All Kids: What’s at Stake if 2020 Census Misses Children in Your Community”. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Blog, 20 Oct. 2018. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019
 City of Austin. “Austin and Travis County Launch Census Campaign to Protect Millions of Dollars of Federal Funding”. 1 Apr. 2019. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019