What is the Census?
April 1, 2020, is Census Day. The census is a count of all persons living in the United States that is conducted every 10 years by the federal government and is required by the U.S. Constitution. It is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, how federal and state legislative districts are redrawn, and the appropriation of federally-funded programs. Census counts are used in distributing more than $6 billion in federal funds EVERY year in Kansas. This translates to $2,082 per person per year.
In 2020, the Census Bureau will implement new technology to make it easier than ever to respond to the census. For the first time, you will have three options for responding: online, by phone or by mail.
The Census will ask 10 questions per person: name, phone number, age, sex, race, hispanic origin, relationship to householder, household tenure (own/rent), number of people in household, usual place of residence. While the law requires persons to answer all census questions accurately, an incomplete census form will still be included in the head count. Here's a Sample Questionnaire.
For more information and resources, visit:
Or, attend an informational Meeting on March 19! Douglas County and the City of Lawrence are hosting an informational meeting about the 2020 Census from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in the auditorium of Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. Speakers will include Xanthippe Wedel, who works at the Kansas State Data Center at the University of Kansas and is on the Kansas Complete Count Committee, and Frankie Foster-Davis, who works in recruitment for the 2020 Census. There will be a question-and-answer session following the presentation.
Why should I participate?
Every year, the federal government allocates more than $675 billion to states and communities based on Census Bureau data. In Douglas County, that equates to over $180 million in grants that support our local community. Census data is used to determine locations for retail stores, schools, hospitals, childcare centers, senior service centers, new housing developments and other community facilities. Census data provides funding for highways, education, local transit, school lunch programs, grants for home rehabilitation and education programs.
For 2008, a few examples of funding received for programs in Douglas County include:
- $26.6 million in medical help for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities.
- $3.6 million for highway infrastructure.
- $1.1 million for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food program for low-income families.
- $5 million in funding for local families using food stamps.
- $1.7 million for the National School Lunch Program to provide healthy meals to Douglas County students.
- $626,133 in grant funding to rehabilitate homes in Douglas County or invest in energy saving solutions for local families.
- $798,320 in funding for community development programs and support to local nonprofit agencies.
- $858,496 in funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Program.
- $87,730 in funding to provide emergency shelter loans or grants for persons needing assistance with utilities and rent.
- $1.9 million in funding for local small business loans.
Please do your part to make sure Douglas County is completely counted!
Why does student participation matter?
It is extremely important that students at our local universities participate and be counted in Douglas County.
Students should fill out their Census information based on where they live a majority of the year, this way the programs that support the local community and university are properly funded. For students living off-campus in apartments and other group living quarters, it is particularly important that you fill out the Census questionnaire so that you are counted in Douglas County and are considered as part of our community.
In 2008, higher education students in Douglas County received $13 million in PELL Grants and $1.739 million in federal funds for the student work study program. $108.5 million was received in Douglas County in direct student loans in 2008.
For more information, visit: Counting College Students.
Is the Census confidential?
Yes. The information you provide to the Census is kept completely confidential. No person, government agency or business has access to your individual information. From May through June, a Census representative may visit your home to collect information. Census workers will clearly identify themselves as representatives of the Census and will be able to provide you with their identification.
Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives. The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.
The Census Bureau will never ask for:
- Social Security numbers.
- Bank or credit card account numbers.
- Money or donations.
- Anything on behalf of a political party.
When will I complete the 2020 Census?
Between March 12 and March 20, every Douglas County household will receive a mailed invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Douglas County has been designated as an area where residents are likely to respond online. Because of this, the first letter residents will receive from the U.S. Census Bureau will invite them to complete the Census questionnaire either online or by phone. Instructions will be provided in that first letter.
The Census Bureau has set up a schedule of reminders they will mail during the following dates to ensure everyone remembers to self-respond:
- March 12-20: Everyone receives an invitation to respond to the Census.
- March 16-24: A reminder letter.
For those who haven’t yet responded, the Census Bureau will send the following:
- March 26-April 3: A reminder postcard.
- April 8-16: A reminder letter and paper questionnaire will be sent to all those who have not yet responded online or via phone; paper questionnaires must be mailed back to the Census Bureau.
- April 20 - 27: A final reminder postcard.
If the Census Bureau has not received a self-response by the end of April, they will designate the household for in-person follow up. Enumerators (the Census workers who follow up in person) will begin visiting Lawrence residences in May.
The Census will NOT call or email you.
How do I apply for a 2020 Census job?
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting hundreds of thousands of people for temporary jobs across the United States and Puerto Rico. Temporary census positions offer the perfect opportunity to earn extra money while helping your community.
Most 2020 Census positions will last several weeks. They feature:
- Competitive wages
- Weekly paychecks
- Flexible hours
- Paid training
For more information, visit the U.S. 2020 Census job site.