Thanksgiving and the Census — Count Your Kids!

Published on November 20, 2019

Just as it's difficult to wrangle a toddler to the Thanksgiving table, the Census Bureau reports that counting every infant and toddler in the country is among the most challenging aspects of ensuring an accurate census count.  

"Parents and adults with young children often don't realize they need to include all children who live with them fulltime or at least most of the time," the Census Bureau reports. "Young children should be counted if they live and sleep in a home most of the time. A newborn should be counted if he or she was born on or before April 1, 2020." 

Undercounting children under 5 is so widespread that the Census Bureau is focusing on efforts to count every newborn and young child in the 2020 Census. Sometimes children are not counted due to confusion about how to count kids, such as when they reside with grandparents or other relatives. 

"A complete count ensures that communities such as ours are able to plan and get the resources they need — things like schools, libraries, and hospitals, but also funding for food and nutrition programs and health insurance," said Kurt Larrick of Arlington's Department of Human Services.  

Arlington Public Schools (APS) is one of the many entities that receives federal funding based on data collected by the Decennial Census. The funds help support programs and allow for planning through the following decade. For example, through the National School Lunch Program, APS received $4.5 million, which provided free and reduced lunches to over 8,000 students in FY2018. 

The Census Bureau is reaching out to families who may be hesitant to fill out the Census forms due to concerns about privacy or immigration status to assure them that Census responses are confidential, protected by law, and cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration agencies, landlords, or anyone else. 

"We are ensuring that Arlington has a network of "trusted messengers' who can reach out to households who might be reluctant to complete the Census and help them understand its importance," Larrick said. 

An accurate population count is essential as undercounting children can impact the public funding of programs that serve them for years. Arlington is grateful for all the children in our community and would be thankful to see them all counted.  

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APRIL 1, 2020 IS CENSUS DAY! The U.S. Census counts every resident in the nation, including right here in Arlington County. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, America gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The collected data helps to determine things like the number of seats Virginia has in the House of Representatives, and how to distribute federal funds to local communities like ours.   

Census 2020: Safe. Important. Confidential. Learn more about how Arlington Counts.