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Utah News

Counting Utah Children Critical To Program Funding

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2020 census forms are arriving in Utah homes this week.  Child advocay leaders say while it's important to count everyone, groups such as Utah Voices for Children and the Partnership for America's Children worry hundreds of millions of dollars for kids' programs are at risk if children are under-counted.

Terry Haven with Voices for Utah Children said the very kids who would benefit most from these programs are most likely to be left out.

"More than 300 programs use census data to distribute federal funds to the state,” said Haven. “And in Utah, every year, that comes to about $5.7 billion. Based on the undercount 10 years ago, an undercount this year could cost Utah about $1.2 billion every year. That's huge."

Census officials say children from newborns to 5 years old are the most likely to not be counted, as well as grandparent families, co-parenting families, "couch-surfing" teens and families with undocumented adults.

Census Bureau statistics show that children of color and Latinos are especially vulnerable to under-counting. Deborah Stein with the Partnership for America's Children says some families are concerned about dealing with a government agency, especially if not everyone in the household is documented.

"The kid is going to be a citizen, but if the family doesn't return the form, the kid will still get missed,” Stein said.

Sarah Brannon is managing attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. She said by law, the Census must keep your information private and that sensitive information, like Social Security numbers and citizenship status are not asked about in the census.

Families are asked to report who is living in their household on April 1st. If census information has not been received by the second week of May, a census taker will visit your home to gather the information.