The who, what, when, where and why about the 2020 United States Census were answered recently at a special presentation at the Darien Library.

Yvette Rose, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, spoke all about the census, and answered questions.

“The census is safe, it’s easy and it’s important,” Rose said.

Timeline

From March 12 through March 20, households will start to receive information from the census bureau in the mail.

The census will be available in 12 non-English languages, in addition to English. There will also be language glossaries and guides.

Those who suspect that they received something that is not a legitimate census questionnaire, can either visit 2020census.gov or call the toll-free number: 800-923-8282.

Residents will get a second reminder about a week later and if they still haven’t responded in that time frame, they’ll get a reminder postcard.

With the fourth mailing, they’ll automatically get a paper questionnaire.

If they still don’t respond, census takers will be coming to homes, starting the beginning of May.

How to respond

There will be four different ways to respond to the census: Online, by phone, a traditional paper questionnaire, and in person to a census taker who will make a home visit.

A sample of the questionnaire and a six-minute video are available on 2020census.gov.

“We are not asking for any financial information,” Rose said. “We don’t want your driver’s license, we don’t want your Social Security number, [and any] banking information. We also are not emailing you the 2020 questionnaire. We do not have your email addresses.”

“We are required by law to complete this process by Dec. 31, and deliver the results to the president and to the states by March 31, 2021,” Rose said.

History, purpose

The census has been ongoing since 1790. Former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson was the first director of the census, and it is mandated by the Constitution.

The census determines representation in Congress and also determines funding.

According to Rose, the census also determines the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as state legislative boundaries, voting precincts, school districts, transportation routes, and more.

It determines the allocation of over $675 billion in federal funding that is distributed to the states by the federal government.

This federal funding supports Title I schools, Head Start, SNAP, and free and reduced school lunches, and Medicaid and Medicare.

“In order to make sure that Darien is getting its fair share of federal funding for vital programs, we need to make sure that we have a complete and accurate count,” Rose said. “Every resident matters.”

In addition, businesses use census data to determine where to locate a new business, what the demographics are of their potential customers, and the kind of items they should be stocking in their store.

Safety, senior population

In terms of safety, there is a concern about sharing personal information, according to Rose.

“We want to make sure the public understands that we are prohibited from sharing any personal identifying information with any group, state, local and federal authority or agency,” she said. “No court can subpoena the information.”

In regard to census takers, all are background checked and fingerprinted.

Also, according to Rose, a census worker will not ask to come into a person’s home, and will not hesitate to have anyone check on their identity.

At a recent Commission on Aging meeting, the census was addressed in regard to the response of the senior population.

Chairman Joseph Pankowski Jr. said many seniors age 80 and older have not had a lot of access with the Internet. They also may think the letters they receive regarding the census are junk mail, and the phone calls are scams. Furthermore, they may be intimidated if someone comes to their door.

Pankowski said there is a significant elderly fear “for good reason. The elderly could think they are targets. There are so many scam phone calls people get all day.”

He continued: “That’s the challenge for the census, is to convince people to be willing to answer the door when somebody they don’t know comes with a laptop, and answer questions relating to their personal lives.”

Hiring census workers

The census bureau is hiring workers. The pay is $25 an hour in Fairfield County.

At the Commission on Aging meeting, Ali Ramsteck, director of Darien Human Services, added that a census worker can make up to $5,000 during the census taking period, “and it’s not considered income.”

There is work available on evenings and weekends. To apply, visit 2020census.gov.

The census needs to recruit 28,000 applicants for jobs as census takers, according to Rose.

Tracking

New this year, there will be a live map showing census response rates.

“So, we’ll be able to tell if there is a census tracked that needs more motivation, and needs more encouragement,” Rose said. “We will be keeping track of responses as they come in.”

The census bureau has encouraged communities to form committees, which are groups of volunteers that help to motivate local response.

Flyers about the census are available in the Darien Human Services office at Town Hall.

“We need to make sure that everyone in every household is counted so that Darien gets their resources and the funding that corresponds to the population,” Rose said.

Watch the full Commission on Aging meeting on Darien TV79.

sfox@darientimes