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You probably know by now that 2020 is a census year. The census is a survey of every household conducted by the US Census Bureau. The federal government is required by the United States Constitution to do this survey every 10 years. 2020 is the first year the census is available online, in addition to phone and by paper. The census includes questions about the number of people living in your household, their ages, and other demographic information.

The information collected from the census gives leaders insight into who makes up the population and where people live; this determines how congressional districts are drawn and how many delegates each state gets in the Electoral College. In addition to influencing politics, census results help policymakers create data-informed policies to benefit the country. The census also determines how federal funds are allocated between states. Allocated funds are used for a wide variety of programs, from healthcare and educational settings to social programs like SNAP. The uses for census data are endless, and leaders use the data to help grow their communities.

For every person that fills out the census, it is estimated that Missouri will receive $1,300 in federal funds. This money is always important; however, federal funding will have an even larger impact on our state this coming year. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused Missouri to lose revenue, but it has also caused people to rely more on social services such as unemployment and SNAP. Now more than ever, your response to the census is crucial.

There are several ways to fill out the census, and all of them are incredibly safe. The Census Bureau is required to protect your data, so no personal identifying information is shared when data is made public. You can fill out the census online by visiting 2020census.gov, over the phone by calling 844-330-2020, by filling out a paper copy that was mailed to you, or this summer when census takers visit homes that have not already responded. If you are not a native English speaker, you can find the number for your preferred language here. The census must be completed by October 31, but the questions asked will refer to where you were living and the people in your household as of April 1, 2020, so that the data is consistent across the country.

It is important to know that the census will not ask you for any money, your social security number, or banking information. Census works will not threaten you with jail for refusing to fill out the census. You can read more about scams here.

If you have questions about filling out the census, please contact the Public Policy and Advocacy Department by emailing sschwegel@paraquad.org, or calling 314-289-4200.

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