Accurate Census Data on Children Critical to Billions in Federal Funding and Community Planning

WASHINGTON, DC– The U.S. Census Bureau today launched a “Children Count Too” public awareness campaign reminding parents to include babies and young children on their 2010 Census forms. Most of the nation’s 120 million households will begin receiving census questionnaires by mail between March 15 and March 17.

“A complete and accurate count of our nation’s youngest is critical to their health and education, and the future strength of our communities and labor force,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves at a news conference at Mary’s Center, a nonprofit maternal and child care center serving immigrant communities in Washington.

The campaign features Dora the Explorer, the popular children’s character on Nickelodeon’s award-winning animated preschool series addressing the importance of counting kids in the 2010 Census. In partnership with the Census Bureau, Nickelodeon has produced television and radio public service announcements, Web buttons and fact sheets in which Dora and her friends remind families that “everybody counts on the census form, especially little kids.”

All materials are available in English and Spanish.

“We’ve arrived at a crossroads in American history where it’s more important than ever for all of us to stand up and be counted,” said Samantha Maltin, senior vice president for integrated marketing and partnerships at Nickelodeon. “Dora the Explorer is an iconic bilingual character for American families of all backgrounds, and with her help, Nickelodeon will remind families how easy, important and safe it is to participate in the census.”

As part of this initiative, federal, corporate and nonprofit organizations with unique access to families and child care providers will distribute Children Count Too educational materials. Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, a world leader in infant and children’s nutrition, will use its connection with parents of newborns and online resources to communicate the importance of including children in the 2010 Census to more than 1 million families.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Division of Food and Nutrition Services is displaying 2010 Census posters and Dora the Explorer-themed 2010 Census fact sheets in more than 3,000 Women, Infants, and Children and 4,100 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program local offices.

Other key partners include the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

Impact of undercounting children

Children have been undercounted in every census since the first one in 1790. According to a December 2009 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children under age 5 are missed at a higher rate than any other age group.

“The undercount of kids is startling, but it is not a new problem,” said William O’Hare, a demographer and consultant working for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “With combined efforts at the federal, state and local levels, we have a chance to improve on the past and make sure the youngest members of our society are fully counted.”

Census data are used to determine the allocation of more than $400 billion in federal funding annually, including $26 billion for educational services and other programs focused on children. Some of these programs include:

— Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: $16.5 billion
— Title I grants for education: $12.8 billion
— Special education: $10.8 billion
— Women, Infants, and Children: $5.5 billion
— Title IV-E Foster Care: $4.7 billion
— Child Care & Development Block Grant: $5 billion

“Every child counted in the 2010 Census will help identify communities in need and bring resources to address specific vulnerabilities, whether they are in health care, child care, education, transportation and affordable housing,” said Mary’s Center President and CEO Maria Gomez. “Only through well-funded comprehensive and multiservice programs will places like Mary’s Center be able to have an impact on the nation’s health care outcomes.”

Local communities rely on census information in planning for schools, child care, health and other critical services. Additionally, community-based and social service organizations use census data to determine social services requirements for families with children.