The time has come again to update the census for the start of a new decade, which means it is time to update the U.S. Census. The United States has counted its population every 10 years since the first census in 1790.

In the past, citizens have felt the census is “just paper work” and not worth the time it takes to fill out the information. However, the opposite could not be truer. Residents also had concerns about their confidential information being given to others without their knowledge. 

“The information collected during the census is completely confidential.  Individual records may not be released for at least 72 years,” said Carla Rodeffer, Charlton County Family Connection Coordinator. “It is so very important for every household to fill out the census.”

The census is used to collect important information for lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others to use to provide daily services, supply products, and offer support for your family and community. The same data also helps with the shares of federal funding across 55 programs for children, including the National School Lunch Program, federal student loan programs, and many more.

An accurate census count also determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to create congressional and state legislative districts.

The federal government distributes over $675 billion dollars to states based on the population for healthcare, food, education, and roads. Local programs that use census data to provide funding are Federal Medical Assistance Programs (FMAP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare Part B, Highway Planning and Construction, and the Federal Pell Grant Program for college students. 

“The federal funding that the county receives is based on the number of individuals that are counted during the census,” said Rodeffer.

According to George Washington University’s report, Counting for Dollars 2020, Georgia receives approximately $2,300.00 per person (from infant to senior adult) each year in funding solely based on census-count allocations, which makes this survey imperative for the state as well as individuals.  

The first of this month, each home should have received an invitation to fill out the 2020 Census and there are three ways to respond – phone, mail, and for the first time, online by computer or mobile device! Each invitation has a personal 12-digit Census Identification Number, which will be used to begin the process. If you do not have internet in your home but wish to respond online, visit the Charlton County Public Library, where card holders have free access to online services.

If you are the one filling out the census for your home, be sure to count anyone who is living at the residence beginning April 1, 2020. This means everyone who is living/sleeping there most of the time. This also includes any and all children in the home, including grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends; children who split their time between homes, if they are living with you as of April 1; newborn babies, (including those who are born on or before April 1 who are still in the hospital).

Participation in the 2020 Census is not a survey one can “opt out of” as it is required by law. Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, mandates the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years.

Rodeffer stated, “As of April 11, the Self-Reporting site shows Georgia has completed 45.3% and Charlton is lagging behind at 36%. We are definitely doing better than 2010, but we can always improve.”

For more information about the census, visit cencsus.georgia.gov. To participate, call (800) 436-7442 or visit 2020census.gov.