By Fabiola González, Executive Director of First 5 Fresno County
FRESNO, Ca. — Many Californians feel like the future is uncertain. Our families are experiencing challenges and obstacles likely never encountered before. All of us, including our moms, dads, grandmas, tíos, tías, and friends, are acting as nurses, teachers, counselors, childcare providers, coaches, and much more.
Despite the stark reality we are facing, we still have the power to create change. More than ever before, our voices must be heard, and our existence seen, including those of our youngest Californians.
Aside from doing the required count, every ten years, of every person living in California, (yes, including undocumented folks), participating in the 2020 Census will help bring and keep resources that are limited in our most vulnerable communities and that are critical for our children to grow up safe and healthy.
These include businesses (think jobs!), clinics, schools, childcare programs, smooth streets with sidewalks and stop lights, and fire stations. By taking a few minutes to answer 10 questions, we can change our community’s future for the next 10 years!
In California, counting all kids is particularly important in cities like Fresno and Los Angeles. Not only are they two of the most diverse cities in California – and therefore two of the hardest to count – but they have also been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 with communities of color facing the worst health, economic and other impacts of the pandemic.
In Fresno, 37 percent of young children live below the poverty line. At First 5 Fresno County, we know children develop in the context of their communities, and without needed resources, thriving will be difficult at best. In the 2010 Census, 1 million children were excluded from the count resulting in 10 years of lost resources for those children and their communities.
The good news is that we can make a difference in 2020. We can use our voices to benefit our children and our communities by filling out the Census and helping others to do the same. Once we make sure we count our household, we must help our parents, friends, and neighbors count their household, including all children and babies!
The success of this Census depends, in large part, on every Californian raising their voice to say, “I count and so do my children.” It is our responsibility as advocates for our families and communities to ensure everyone is counted.
Fortunately, completing the Census has never been easier. You can complete the form in 13 languages at my2020census.gov, or over the phone. You can also respond to a paper questionnaire if you received one in the mail. The Census will not ask you any questions regarding your immigration status. Rather, all the questions are demographic, like how many people stay in your home and their basic information (name, sex, age, etc.).
The information given is confidential and secure – if a Census worker tries to share the information you provide they could be punished with hefty fines and jail. And do not worry that any of the information you share with the Census will be disclosed: the law says no Census data can be released for 72 years!
U.S. Census Bureau workers will soon be knocking on doors in communities around the state to ask households that have not yet participated in filling out the form. Of course, this makes many in our communities anxious and scared. The sooner you fill out your form, the more likely you will avoid a visit from a Census worker. If they do show up, you’ll have to keep your distance and your mask on, while likely the questions are asked in person. You can avoid this by reminding everyone around you to act now!
California is a state para todos – a beacon of opportunity for people of every race, sex, creed, ethnicity, and nationality. We must send a strong message that in our state, we take care of each other and take our collective future seriously. By counting every person in our homes, we can make sure we get what belongs to us in the next decade.
Help me remind everyone – minutes change the next 10 years. Take a bit of time to complete the 2020 Census today! California babies are counting on us to count them. Apúrate and let’s do this, juntos!
Fabiola González is the Executive Director of First 5 Fresno County where they work to ensure a future where all children are healthy, loved and nurtured and their families have everything necessary to live well.