2020 Census: Social work’s role in making people count

Census data are used to make critical decisions about how money and power are shared in our society.

When communities are undercounted, the resources and representation these communities deserve are sent to other communities and states that are counted in higher rates- deepening existing racial and economic inequities.

States will lose up to $40,000 in funding for every person missed for healthcare, education, infrastructure, housing and food over the next decade. 
All communities—especially those that are underserved- need and deserve the resources and political power that come with a complete count! 

Challenges to a complete count

  1. High distrust in government.  By law, answers to the census are protected and private and cannot be used for any reason by any government agency or tribunal—not the FBI, CIA, DCF, DHS, ICE, etc.
  2. The Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed and weakened door-to-door efforts to reach hard to count populations
  3. Moving deadlines and confusion. The original deadline of July 31, 2020 was extended to October 31, 2020 then suddenly back to September 30th by the President. Some states are fighting the deadlines in court.

Take action today: What you can do to support a complete count

Social workers play a critical role in ensuring a complete count—especially with clients and communities at risk for being undercounted.

  1. Complete the census yourself.
  2. Know the facts so you can address the fears.  Share this flyer with colleagues and clients. 
  3. Look up the response rates for your state/county/district.
  4. Reach out to clients and your networks others with information and encouragement to respond.

REACH OUT for more resources from these organizations

These organizations are coordinating to provide information about the Census, answer questions, and when needed, follow up on challenges to participating in the count.

The AAJC hotline will be available in English, Mandarin (普通話), Cantonese (廣東話), Korean (한국어), Vietnamese (tiếng Việt), Tagalog, Urdu (اردو), Hindi (हिंदी), and Bengali/Bangla (বাংলা).

Get the facts: The Census is IMPORTANT, SAFE and EASY


  • Representation and political power at all levels of government. States, cities and communities that are undercounted will see their representation and political power diminish relative to other states and communities.
  • More than a trillion in federal funding to states, localities and families. States, cities and communities who are undercounted will lose critical funding for safety net programs and investments in healthcare, jobs, schools, housing and much more.
  • Census data is used to monitor and enforce a broad range of civil rights, including voting rights, equal employment opportunities, public health, bilingual services for schools and more.
  • Census data is used by businesses, governments and nonprofits to make strategic decisions about investments and programs.

SAFE and Secure. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with any other government agency nor the public. Census responses are only used for aggregate data. Census Bureau workers take a lifetime oath to maintain the confidentiality of census responses with penalties up to up to $250,000 and 5 years in prison.

Easy. There are four easy ways to participate: online, by phone (844-330-2020), by mail-in questionnaire.  Resources are available in 59 languages!  There is NO question about citizenship, and households do not need a letter from the census to respond.