Every Child Counts in the Census

The 2020 Census count has started, and a complete count of all Montanans is critical to ensuring the state receives its fair share of federal funds over the next ten years. Unfortunately, the youngest among us, children under five years old, are at the highest risk of being undercounted. In 2000, an undercount cost Montana nearly $21 million in lost funding for programs our children rely upon. Not achieving an accurate count of Montana’s children in 2020 means that Montana stands to lose $20,000 over the next ten years for each child missed by the census.

The Census count ensures that, as children get older, programs will adjust for the number of children eligible. Just think: a three-year-old Montana child that may be in preschool today, will be in seventh or eighth grade by 2030, with changing needs throughout the entire ten-year period. Some of the programs that rely on census data to distribute funding include:

  • Healthy Montana Kids, providing health insurance for children
  • Education programs, including K-12 Title I and special education funding
  • Child Care Development Block Grant, providing federal funding for child care

How can we count all kids in the census?

  • Count children in the home where they live and sleep most of the time, even if their parents don’t live there.
  • If a child’s time is divided between more than one home, count them where they stay most often. If their time is evenly divided, or you don’t know where they stay most often, count them where they are staying on Census Day—April 1, 2020.
  • Count children in your home if they don’t have a permanent place to live and are staying in your home on April 1, 2020, even if they are only staying with you temporarily.
  • If a child’s family (or guardian) is moving during March or April 2020, count them at the address where they are living on April 1, 2020.
  • Count newborn babies at the home where they will live and sleep most of the time, even if they are still in the hospital on April 1, 2020.

As Census Day approaches, all Montanans must be aware of how important this moment is to the future of our children and our communities. We cannot support the critical programs that will keep our children healthy, educated, and prepared for adulthood over the next decade without accurate census data.

For more information on the Census, check out the Montana Complete Count website.

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