This post was originally released on the Advocates for Children of New Jersey website. You can view the original post here.
You can’t read this yet. By the time you can, the 2020 Census will be long over. I will be working on some different project or campaign at my job, moving towards a brighter future for New Jersey’s children, including you. You’ll be riding your bike or playing with friends. And you probably won’t be interested in what your dad worked on when you were a baby.
But your count in the 2020 Census will be just as important then as it is now.
Your Census entry from 2020 reads “0” years old. You were so small when I filled it out that I could still hold you with one arm. Now just 3 months later, you’re already so much bigger, and I am in constant awe of how quickly you are growing. Just think about how big you’ll be when the 2030 Census comes around!
Being a father makes being a child advocate more personal. At work, I work with community groups and local officials to encourage New Jersey residents to complete the 2020 Census. I tell folks that we need fair funding for schools and hospitals, fair representation in Congress and accurate data for planning.
But when I filled out the Census for you, it wasn’t really about those things. It meant caring for and protecting you, and helping to build a world that is better than the one before. And completing the Census helps ensure that you are seen, that you are important and that big, important, powerful institutions must recognize that you exist – all 20 chubby pounds of you.
It’s not all about you, either. Counting you helps other families and their babies too. The block we live on in Newark is particularly hard to count for the Census. A lot of children who live in our neighborhood might not be included on their family’s Census response. That means that all of the schools in our Census tract may have less money for crayons, books and more because we didn’t count everyone.
Parents want what’s best for their kids. But the connection between a Census questionnaire and a decade’s worth of teacher salaries and health care funding is difficult to make. So when I filled out your information in the Census, I was doing it not only for you, but also for all the other children who will be your classmates, friends and neighbors for years to come.
One day far in the future, when your children or grandchildren look back at the 2020 Census, they’ll see our family in our home. They won’t see how much we love you or how quickly you’ve grown. But they will see that you were here and you counted.