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Undercounting children would negatively affect their lives for the next decade and beyond

You're busy. You're juggling work, taking care of your family, putting food on the table, and a million other things.

When the U.S. Census comes around once every 10 years, the importance and timeliness of completing the form sitting on your stack of "to-do" paperwork can slip your mind. And if you do find the time to fill it out, you might leave your newborn child off the form or even overlook your toddler about to enter pre-K. After all, the important thing is to account for all the adults in the household, right?

Not the case.

COURTESY PHOTO - Jenifer WagleyIn the 2010 census, nearly 10% of children under the age of 5 were not counted — this amounts to 2 million children across the country. This lack of representation results in detrimental effects felt in the community for the following decade.

Resource allocation for everything from school funding to health care to construction projects is dependent on the census being as accurate as possible.

When the newborn to age 5 population is undercounted, child care and school resources necessary to help children thrive are not fully funded. This means children in this age group are negatively impacted for the majority of their childhoods — 10 years of underfunded resources.

The census determines the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal funds. An accurate count is essential to ensure funds go to where they're most needed to support our communities. With every child left uncounted, classrooms become more crowded and resources further dwindle. And this doesn't even account for intangible effects.

When you make sure to count your children, you are not only ensuring a more accurate count and allocation of resources, but also informing critical research. Undercounted populations mean underfunded research. Research conducted by the Count All Kids campaign shows that children from rural communities, immigrant families, or low-income households are more likely to be undercounted.

There is no citizenship question on the 2020 census, and the information gathered will not be shared with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or any other organization.

Now is a great time to fill out the census form or complete it online at Data from the Population Reference Bureau shows your community is at high risk for undercounting children in the census.

Support your community and set up all our children for a successful future by counting the children in your household today. Accurate census information leads to the proper allocation of resources for Oregon communities, including our schools and hospitals, and will allow all our children to learn and grow in supportive communities.

Complete your census form before Sept. 30. Counting all of our children today makes for a brighter future tomorrow.

Jenifer Wagley is the executive director for Children First for Oregon and the Children's Trust Fund of Oregon. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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