Last week, when we said that the most important thing states and communities could do now to ensure that everyone is counted is form and fund a Census Complete Count Committee, maybe you thought “Ok, what are those”? Who forms a Compete Count Committee, what does it do, and who should be on it?
Fortunately, the Census Bureau has created an excellent guide to Complete Count Committees. And we’ll blog about aspects of Complete Count Committees over the next week or two. Today, let’s talk about who should create them.
Every state definitely should have its own Complete Count Committee, created and funded by the state to ensure a robust census response in the state. In some states these are called Complete Count Commissions. The legislature can form one; for example, in California the legislature created a Complete Count Committee and appropriated $90 million to support its work. But if the legislature hasn’t acted, the governor can; in North Carolina, the governor appointed a complete count committee. If your state hasn’t formed one yet, then that should be a top priority for the 2019 legislature, or the governor.
Don’t stop there, however. Local governments can and should form their own complete count committees, particularly in large counties and cities where many people are at risk of being missed (“hard to count”).
Tribes can and should form their own.
And—especially where state or local governments haven’t formed one—community leaders and community organizations can form one. For example, in Michigan the nonprofit community has come together to form a statewide complete count campaign, originally supported by foundation funding. Now that campaign has received some state funding.
Does your state or community have one? So far there is no one list of all complete count committees, so you will need to ask around. You can also contact your regional census office (listed in back of the guide above), to see if they know of one.
If you are forming a complete count committee or joining one, it is critical that the committee has some one to represent the interests of young children, someone to remind members that young children had a higher net undercount than any other age group in the 2010 Census. If there is someone on the committee looking out for young children, the complete count committee is more likely to use child focused materials and link to networks like pediatricians, and preschool programs that can easily reach the parents of young children.
Deborah Stein is the Network Director of the Partnership for America’s Children.