Be Counted, Be Heard, and Positively Impact Your Organization’s Future: Why The 2020 Census Matters for Head Start Programs and Other Federal Grantees

By Published On: August 21, 2020

The U.S. Constitution requires the nation’s population to be counted every ten years through the nationwide census. It is not too late to encourage the population whom you serve to participate in the 2020 Census to ensure that your organization receives critical funding in proportion to the size of the population you serve. In fact, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Census deadline was extended until September 30, 2020. (Note that prior extensions were for October 31, 2020, so we have less time than previously anticipated).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start (OHS) recently sent out a notice reminding Head Start programs to encourage families to respond to the Census. In addition to the valuable information provided by the Office of Head Start, programs should think about the following six questions when encouraging families to participate in the 2020 Census.

  1. Why does this matter to your organization?

Participation in the 2020 Census will have a vital and long-lasting impact within your state and local community for the next decade. In fiscal year 2015, census data was used to allocate $675 billion dollars for 132 federal programs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing economic turmoil throughout communities across the nation. However, as your team is navigating this difficult and unprecedented time, the 2020 Census is designed to ensure that your organization receives the financial support that it needs so that you can continue readily serving your beneficiaries. It is important to note that the 2020 Census will benefit your constituents regardless of their citizenship status because the federal funding is meant to impact everyone you serve.

  1. Will answers to the 2020 Census questionnaire be shared with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

No.  Title 13, Section 9 of the U.S. Code requires the Census Bureau to keep all responses confidential.

  1. How is the data used?

The data garnered from the census will be used in several important ways. The results of the 2020 Census will inform federal funding decisions about the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars to be used for the following programs and services:

  • Head Start;
  • Medicaid;
  • Block grants for community mental health services;
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Hospitals; and
  • Fire Departments

For programs such as Head Start, funding is based on a formula that specifies which funds are permitted to be allocated in accordance with state-level population data garnered from the census. First responders and disaster recovery personnel also utilize census data in a concerted effort to identify the vital help that is needed within different localities and states.

  1. What are some ways that you can encourage the population that you serve to participate in the 2020 Census?
  • Send an alert via email, or post an update to your organization’s website to encourage individuals to complete and submit the 2020 Census questionnaire;
  • Follow @uscensusbureau on your social media platforms and tell your organization about how the census is easy and critically important; and
  • Host a workshop via Zoom or Skype to develop hands-on solutions to 2020 Census challenges within your community.
  1. Where can the 2020 Census questionnaire be accessed?

The 2020 Census questionnaire can be accessed at https://my2020census.gov/, and it only takes approximately ten minutes to complete.

  1. Is the 2020 Census information accessible in multiple languages?

The U.S. Census Bureau provides translated web pages and guides in 60 languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in braille and large print. These translated web pages and guides can be found at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/2020-census/planning-management/language-resources/language-guides.html.


If you have questions about how the U.S. Census could impact your organization or how you could encourage your constituents to participate, please reach out to Nicole Bacon at nbacon@ftlf.com for additional information.


Learn more about the FTLF Team