2020 U.S. Census
SLO County Kids Count
A big way our community gets money for child and family programs is by participating in the U.S. Census. The state and federal government uses census information to fund programs like child care, free and low-cost school lunches, and Medi-Cal.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Census?
- The Census is a questionnaire. Think of it like a survey. It only asks nine questions.
- It counts every living adult and child in the United States at a specific point in time—on April 1, 2020.
- The Census takes place every 10 years. The next Census after this one will be in 2030.
- The Census counts all people who live at an address. It does not matter if these people are related. If someone—of any age—lives at your address on April 1, 2020, you should include them in the 2020 Census form.
- The Census count helps determine how much money California will get for important programs that support children, including: schools, child care, medical care, food assistance, housing, and public transportation.
What does the Census ask?
- The Census asks nine questions about the people living at each address. The questions include name, age, country of origin/race, sex, and if the person filling out the 2020 Census form owns or rents the dwelling at that address.
- The Census will not ask for your income or political party.
- The Census is a count of all people in the U.S., no matter your immigration status. The 2020 Census will not ask if you or others at your address are citizens.
- You may have come across information about this in the news. In the end, a question about citizenship was not added to the 2020 Census.
- By law, information provided to the Census cannot be shared by the Census with other government agencies or a landlord. Breaking this law has severe penalties, including a fine up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both.
Why do I need to count my child(ren)?
- The Census helps our government figure out how much money each state should get for important programs for the next 10 years.
- Counting each and every person in our state in the 2020 Census is crucial. That includes all children. An undercount in 2020 could cost California up to $115 billion per year across federal programs. That’s money we need for schools, child care, medical care, food assistance, housing, and public transportation.
- The Census only happens every 10 years. That means if we don’t count all our children in 2020, they will be shortchanged for the next decade.
When does the Census happen?
- In March, you’ll receive an invitation and a letter in the mail with directions for how to complete the Census online or over the phone. You will also get a reminder postcard in the mail at the beginning of April.
- Beginning on April 1, 2020, you will be able to fill out the Census form online—on a computer, tablet, or smartphone—or respond by phone.
- You can also request a printed copy of the Census in English or Spanish.
- If you haven’t completed the Census by mid-April, you will get a second reminder and a printed copy of the Census in the mail.
- At the end of April, Census workers—usually members of your local community hired by the U.S. Census Bureau—will visit addresses that have not responded to the Census to help fill out the form in-person.
- All Census workers take a lifetime oath to protect your personal information. Breaking this law has severe penalties, including a fine up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both.
- If you’re not sure who to count on your Census form, think about who stays/stayed at your address on April 1, 2020. For example, if you share custody of a child and this child “lives” in two homes, you can decide to include the child on your form based on where he/she stayed on April 1, 2020.
Who do I count?
- A single Census form needs to be filled out for each address. The form should include every person living at the address, no matter their age or citizenship.
- Count every adult and every child born on or before April 1, 2020. This includes newborns who may still be in the hospital, but will live at your address.
- If you are not sure who to count on your Census form, think about who stayed with you on April 1, 2020.
- If you share custody of a child, you can decide where to count him/her based on the address where he/she stayed on April 1, 2020.
- If family or friends live with you on April 1, 2020, and they do not have another home, count them on your Census form, even if they are not on the lease.
- If you have a family member who does not live with you because he/she attends college, is in jail, or lives in a senior living community, do not include him/her on your Census form. They will be counted separately.
- People experiencing homelessness will be counted separately at shelters, soup kitchens, and mobile food vans in spring 2020.
- Remember: by law, all Census information cannot be shared with a landlord or any government agency. Breaking this law has severe penalties, including a fine up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both.
How can I respond?
- Starting in March 2020, you can respond at 2020Census.gov. You can do it on a computer or on your smartphone.
- You will also be able to call the U.S. Census Bureau to answer the Census questions.
- Households at some addresses will get the Census questions by mail. This is because they may have limited internet access or have older adults living at the home address.
- The Census will be available in English, Spanish, and 11 other languages. The 11 additional languages include French, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Arabic.
- In addition, video and printed guides will be available in 59 non-English languages, and there will be a printed guide in braille and one with large print.
Is my information secure?
- Yes, your information is secure. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau must keep your information private.
- It is illegal for the U.S. Census Bureau to share your information with other government agencies, companies, or your landlord. Breaking this law has severe penalties, including a fine up to $250,000, five years in prison, or both.
- A Census worker will never ask for your Social Security number or information about your bank accounts or credit cards. Never share this information with anyone you do not know or trust.
- If you want to make sure the person at your door is really a Census worker, check their badge. All Census workers have an official U.S. Census Bureau ID badge. The badge will include their name, picture, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. They will also be carrying an official bag with the Census Bureau logo and an official letter explaining why they are visiting.
Does the Census ask about citizenship?
- No, the Census will not ask if you are a U.S. citizen.
- You may have heard about this in the news. In the end, this question was not added to the survey. Everyone should respond to the Census, including non-citizens.
Why is the Census asking for my phone number?
- The Census Bureau asks for your phone number in case they have questions about your responses to the questionnaire.
- They will not share your phone number with anyone, including businesses or other government agencies.
Is the U.S. Census Bureau hiring?
- If you are interested in a temporary job to support Census outreach, visit 2020Census.gov/jobs.
- To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, and be a United States citizen.