Cenus makes extra effort to reach rural towns
VERMONT — The 2020 Census, the once-a-decade count of everyone who lives in the U.S., is underway, and it is easy, safe and important to respond.
An accurate census count is vital to Vermont. Responses inform decisions on how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are allocated every year for the next 10 years for critical public services to communities across the country, including in rural areas. As of May 18, the self-response rate in Vermont was 50.5%, about nine points lower than the national average. Rural areas in the state had lower response rates.
To be sure everyone is counted, employees of the U.S. Census Bureau will take extraordinary but safe measures to reach homes that can be difficult to access in rural and remote areas, whether located at the top of a mountain or at the end of a mile-long dirt drive. Many rural households do not have typical mailing addresses but use post office boxes in nearby towns, but the Census Bureau does not deliver to P.O. Boxes.
Because of that, Census Bureau employees will start delivering paper questionnaires individually to each home in these rural areas in the coming weeks, along with instructions about how to respond online, by phone, or by mail. They will also confirm and record the physical location of the home.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these employees, hired from within the area, will wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and will be trained in social distancing protocols. You do not need to interact with them; they will just drop information off at your door. In-person follow-ups will be made by census takers later in the summer and early fall if no response to the 2020 Census is received.
After receiving the invitation with their ID number, households with limited internet service are encouraged to respond by phone by calling 844-330-2020, or by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire, following instructions on the pre-addressed, postage-paid invitation. You can respond in English and 12 other languages by phone.
State, local and federal lawmakers use statistics from thecensus to determine howto allocate funds for public services such as emergency response,including police, firefighters and EMTs; hospitals and healthcare services; education and schools; and maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. Major programs like Medicaid health insurance for low-income people, and free- or reduced-price school lunches are informed by census statistics, too.
Several important programs aimed at rural areas use census statistics, such as Rural Business Development Grants and Rural Development Housing Preservation Grants. Responses to the 2020 Census also determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Households that receive the 2020 Census invitation packets are strongly encouraged to respond promptly using the census ID included in the questionnaire packet. People may still respond online, by phone or by completing and returning the paper form by mail. Responding with the census ID or by completing and returning the paper questionnaire helps ensure the most accurate count of a community.
For more information and to get started, visit 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.
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