We Must Count All Children

Today, April 1, marks one year until the U.S. Census starts. At Arkansas Advocates, we’re already working to ensure we have an accurate count of all people in our state, but especially young children. It’s estimated that in 2010, the Census missed one in 10 young children nationwide, making children 0 to 4 years old the most undercounted age group.

Why does it matter whether all those kids are counted?

The numbers from next year’s count will dictate how federal funding formulas are calculated for the next 10 years, how representative districts are divided – at the national, state and local levels – and how Arkansas communities and businesses plan their futures. Accurate data is essential.

A conservative estimate indicates that Arkansas had a net undercount of more than 6,500 young children in 2010, for a loss in federal funds every year of $5.9 million. That’s just counting the children who are aged 0 to 4, and it’s just counting five of the more than 300 programs that use Census data to help allocate funds to states. Vital programs for children like Medicaid, CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is called ARKids First in our state), foster care, child care, WIC, and many more are calculated using data from the Census. If the count misses many young children, there will be fewer resources for the programs crucial to children and their families.

For these reasons and more, we need to put forth a big effort to ensure that we count all kids. One thing you can do now is help us create our statewide Arkansas Complete Count Committee. Along with our Arkansas Counts philanthropic partners and community organizations throughout the state, we’re interested in helping develop a comprehensive 2020 Census awareness strategy. We’re looking for a broad and diverse coalition of community partners. We want committee members who have experience in working in hard-to-count communities in Arkansas, including:

  • Communities of color
  • Low- to moderate-income communities
  • Rural communities, including (but not limited to) Jefferson, Phillips, Desha and Washington counties
  • Immigrant communities
  • Children under five

Click here to apply!

A year may sound like a long time, but we need start now.