YOU COUNT: Why the Census in 2020 Matters

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This year is winding down, and 2020 is coming up before we know it. There’s a LOT going on next year – the start to a new decade, a presidential election, 27 new shows coming out on Netflix (!!), and the 2020 Census.

What’s the Census?

 The Census is how the U.S. government counts the number of people that live in the United States. It happens every 10 years, and the next one will take place on April 1, 2020!

Why does the Census matter?

Census information is important for a lot of reasons:

  • It’s about FAIR REPRESENTATION: After the Census is taken, the population count is used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts – including the House of Representatives for each state.
  • It’s about FUNDING: Census data is used to distribute billions of dollars in funding to state and local governments—including funding for schools, roads, and local services that help keep our communities strong.
  • It’s about the FUTURE: Population data is used to plan where to build new schools, hospitals, supermarkets, and other local businesses.
  • Ultimately the Census matters because we ALL count – it is our job to participate in our democracy and claim the resources and political representation that is our right!

Who is counted?

The Census counts EVERYONE living in the United States –  no matter their immigration status. 

  • You or your parents can find out more information about how the Census Bureau has decided to count those in unique living situations, such as college students, incarcerated people, and deployed troops.

What questions get asked?

  • The number of people living or staying in a home on April 1, 2020 – including babies!
  • Whether the home is owned, rented, or occupied without rent
  • A phone number for someone living in the home
  • The name, sex, age, date of birth and race of each person in the home
  • The relationship of each person to a central person in the home.

Will the 2020 Census include a question about citizenship?

NO! You may have heard that the Census might ask who is and isn’t a citizen, but that question was not approved by our legal system. Everyone has a right to fill out the Census.

  • If someone you know is nervous to open their doors to the Census workers who visit homes to gather forms, they can still participate in the Census online, by telephone, or at community-run assistance centers!

 Is the information given on the Census form kept private?

YES! The information your family shares with the Census is sensitive, and the Census Bureau is legally required to protect it.

  • The information you share can only be used to create statistics
  • Answers cannot be shared with or used by law enforcement or any branch of the government! Not the police, ICE, FBI, CIA—no one.

Can someone refuse to answer a Census question?

  • Census workers might follow up on homes that have incomplete or unanswered Census forms
  • If you skip a questions or submit an incomplete form, you will still be included in the head count, BUT technically you can be fined for it – though enforcement of that penalty is unusual.

Is the Census available in other languages?


  • Paper forms: Available in English and Spanish
  • Online + by Phone: English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
  • There are also video and printed guides to the Census in 59 non-English languages, as well as a video in American Sign Language.

I’m under 18 — So what am I supposed to do?

  • Help your parents or caretakers understand the importance of the Census
  • Make sure someone in your home fills out the Census – and that they count you!
  • Share FACTUAL information about the census! You never know who in your community needs to hear it – whether it be your friends who can share information with their parents, or other adults in your life who are receiving mixed messages about what the Census is about.

I’m a college student – do I fill out the Census?

  • If you live at home, you should be counted at your home address.
  • If you live away from home, you should count yourself at the on or off campus residence where you live!

Okay, now I’m pumped about the Census! What do I do now?

  • Follow us on Instagram @teensourceorg or Twitter @teensource and reshare our graphics to get the word out!