Atlanta wants to make sure children get counted in the 2020 Census. The city has launched its “Kids Count Too” campaign.
Angela Brown, who heads the city’s initiative to get the word out about the 2020 count, said for some caretakers it’s unclear who should put children on census forms.
“Sometimes parents are divorced, and one parent thinks the other is going to count the child. And so it ends up the child falls through the cracks,” Brown said. “Sometimes kids are staying with their grandparents … sometimes with their aunties. And so sometimes people don’t know to add the child to the Census as well.”
In the 2010 Census, about one million children under the age of 5 were undercounted across the country. Children at risk of being undercounted include those in immigrant families as well as poor families.
Linda Jacobsen, vice president of U.S. Programs at the Population Reference Bureau, said the undercount of young children is not a new issue.
“Demographers have found undercounts of young children in the 1940 and 1950 Census and even as far back as 1880,” she said.
The Population Reference Bureau is a nonprofit research organization and is not affiliated with the U.S. Census Bureau.
“If we don’t count them [children], then the communities that they live in won’t get the fair share of federal resources; federal dollars that they need to provide the kinds of resources that will ensure that they have the opportunities to achieve their full potential and live healthy lives,” she said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the count determines how $675 billion of federal money is spent annually. A report by George Washington University estimates that number can be more than $1.5 trillion. The Census determines how federal money is distributed for programs such as SNAP, Medicaid and the National School Lunch Program.
The undercount rate of young children has been increasing since 1980, Jacobsen said. That’s while the rate has been decreasing for other age groups.
According to 2018 census estimates, approximately 32,000 children under the age of 5 live in Atlanta. That’s 6.5% of the city’s population.