Success of 2010 Census - It's in Your Hands

Mary Wells | 3/2/2009, 3:24 p.m.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau joined Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-4th Dist.) to discuss how the 2010 Census count will affect funding for Prince George€s County at a forum sponsored by Edwards on Sat., Feb. 28, at the Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Md.
The federal government began the practice of collecting the numbers and demographic information of citizens across the country, every 10 years, since the early 1700's. According to Edwards, conducting the Census will be easier this time because the short forms will be mailed to households to be filled out and returned in the postage-paid envelope provided.
The short form requests residents€ name, sex, age, date of birth, race/ethnicity, relationship to other residents in the household and housing tenure. More detailed socioeconomic information is now collected through the American Community Survey from a small percentage of the population, on a rotating basis, every five years.

"We will aggressively reach out to churches and various organizations in a number of different ways, including the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus, to reach underserved communities," Edwards said.

Dorothy Wilson, partnership specialist for the Census, said over 700 employment positions in the county have been filled.

"Because of the job situation faced by many, over 4,600 [people] took the test,€ Wilson said. €Announcements will be made in a few months for openings for supervisory positions [and the] minimum age for most positions is 18 years."
The initial 700 Census employees will verify each address and location in the county, starting in about four weeks, according to Alex Compagnet, partnership specialist for the Census.

€Census 2010 short forms won't be mailed until next year, around February and March 2010," Compagnet said.

Short forms will be mailed to the head of each household to fill out and return in the pre-paid postage envelope provided by the Census office. "The only reason personnel from the Census Bureau will knock on your door is if the form is not returned in a timely manner," Compagnet said. €If everything goes as planned, no 2010 Census worker will knock on your door. The goal is to have everything done by mailing to the right address.€

According to Wilson, some people, including undocumented immigrants and homeless people, are hesitant to participate in the Census for fear of incrimination or deportment. However, Wilson said that "the information we [the Census] collect is private and by law, names and addresses cannot be given to any other agency. The data collected is kept private for 72 years."

The information collected in the Census informs the federal governments of the needs in each community, according to Compagnet.
"We need this data because everyone uses roads, bridges, transportation of some form, needs healthcare and their children go to schools in the community, too. No one wants their community to be cut short of federal funds when allocated by Congress later," Compagnet said.

For more information on the Census, including Census employment or to have a Census representative visit your church or organization, call 1-866-861-2000 or visit www.USCensus.gov.