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Children & the Census



What is The Census?

The Decennial Census happens every ten years. The Constitution requires that every person in the United States is counted—adults, children and babies, citizens, or immigrants. Census Day is every decennial year on April 1.

The Decennial Census is the only time we count everyone. The Census Bureau takes many surveys of people throughout the decade, but those are samples. They use population estimates based on the Decennial Census to decide how many people to sample from each community, so if we get the Decennial Census wrong, every census survey for the next decade is also distorted.

What are common challenges with the census?

The number of young children that are not represented in the Decennial Census has been increasing steadily for 40 years, even as the number of adults counted has become more accurate. The problem is worse in larger counties and for children of color.

Some young children are not counted because they live in households that do not submit a census form. Many young children are not counted because their families respond to the census form but do not include the child. Some adults may not realize that babies, toddlers and young children should be included on the census form.

When we surveyed families with young children in 2019, one in ten –10%– said they would not include their young child on the census form and another 8% said they were uncertain if they would include their young child on the census form. 


Children are more likely to
not be included on a census form if:

They live in large and complex households.
They live with single parents or young parents between the ages of 18-29.
They are not the biological or adopted child of the householder.
They live in families that do not speak English (or immigrant households).
They live in families that earn lower incomes.
They live in a household that rents or a multiunit household.
They live in a Black or Hispanic household.

in the census?

 Census data is used to allocate one and a half trillion dollars every year, by formula, resulting in serious consequences if inaccurate data is used.

Get Prepared For the next census

By acting together, we can help ensure children are accurately represented in the future Decennial Census.