Officials push for complete Census count

GEORGETOWN — Delaware is headed for a crucial milestone.
“Delaware is closing in on a million people. And we are very close to a magic number that would enable us to have not just one U.S. representative, but two,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said during a news conference on the Green in Georgetown Monday morning.

“For 10 years I was the lone congressman for the state of Delaware. It was a lonely existence. And I want to make sure that when we reach that magic number that we have two, two to do the job that one does today.”
That’s where the United States Census comes in to play.

As it comes around for its once-per-decade counts of local residents, Sen. Carper joined U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and Sheila Bravo in explaining the importance of participation by Delawareans.

In the census from 2000, 783,600 people lived in Delaware. The next census from 2010 cited a population of 897,934. Population estimates from the Census Bureau suggest continued growth from 2010 to 2018 when it was estimated that the population of Delaware reached 967,171 people.
Sen. Carper and the other speakers also suggested those numbers could be low due to some residents not responding to the census at all.
Lt. Gov. Hall-Long agreed.

“The census is what unites us. The census unites us on every front and matters to the resources that will come back to Delaware. Everyone matters and should be counted – our children to our eldest and those in our communities’ special populations,” she said.

She and Ms. Bravo chair the Hard to Count Population Subcommittee of Delaware’s Complete Count Commission, working to ensure every community is counted in the census within the state of Delaware.

“In Delaware, it’s estimated that the undercount of populations in the 2010 census equated to roughly about $10M of federal funding that did not come into the state, funding that supports our education system, funding that supports seniors, funding that helps children learn to speak English, food programs… and so securing a complete count for census 2020 to ensure that our residents are recognized is an important source of funding to help our communities help those most in need,” said Ms. Bravo, who also leads the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement.

She suggested three actions to take as a community to help Delaware be successful during the census 2020 process.
“The first is to raise awareness as to why it matters,” she began. “The second is to encourage people to participate and the third is to facilitate an easy way for people to participate.”

Dr. Dillingham, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, also encouraged participation in hopes of receiving an accurate count from the First State.
“I want to underscore the census bureau’s unwavering dedication to complete and accurate 2020 census,” he said. “I was very pleased to hear that you’re focused on the hard to count population and that is the focus of the census bureau.”

Hard to count groups, such as those with language barriers or lack of access to basic needs, can negatively impact state-by-state numbers as other speakers claimed.
“We have more language assistance than ever before,” he said as an example of how the census bureau is trying to adapt to the needs of citizens. “We have 12 different languages. You can call by phone to our language assistance centers and in 12 different languages, they can take your information.”

Materials regarding the census can also be viewed in 59 languages, he added.

“So, any group that we are aware of in this country with 2,000 people, actually a little bit less than that, we have materials for you in those languages that will help you complete the census,” he said. “We are focused on counting everyone once and counting them in the right place.”

Once counted, the information is used only for statistical purposes by law, he assured, emphasizing that information also would not be distributed between governmental agencies.

“Information comes in and numbers go out. We do that as a matter of professionalism at the census bureau, but those federal laws are always there if ever needed. But so far, they haven’t been,” he explained. “We know there have been challenges in the census. There always have been challenges and I think we’re better prepared than ever to meet those challenges.”

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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