Complete Count Committee pushing for census awareness

On the 'Net

To see a sample of the 2010 census form, log on to http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php.

One of the shortest questionnaires in history.

That is how Jennifer Riley described the 2010 census.

Riley, a co-chairwoman of the Craig-Moffat County Complete Count Committee, referred to the U.S. Census Bureau’s slogan for 2010 in describing the ease of filling out the forthcoming statistical survey.

“Ten questions in 10 minutes,” she said.

The Complete Count Com­mittee is working to better educate the community about the 2010 census in hopes of expediting the process of getting a quick, accurate count of the population in the Craig and Moffat County area.

One strategy the committee has implemented is reaching out to demographics traditionally overlooked by the census.

Beginning in 2009, the CCC organized subcommittees to focus on the “hard-to-reach” people of the area identified in an online survey: non-English speakers, young adults and the rural community.

“Some of these people are separated from the community, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to get counted,” Riley said.

Members of the committee represent a variety of industries, including the medical, educational, media and law enforcement sectors.

Riley’s co-chair, Audrey Dan­ner, said the committee members have worked well together in their marketing tactics.

“It took all of us combined to do these activities and implement them successfully,” Danner said.

Members have contributed to the census effort through advertising and distribution of census information through local businesses and through schools so that children can help keep their parents informed about the importance of the census.

“Right now, we’re promoting it as much as we can,” Riley said. “The big push will be closer to April 1.”

April 1 is the deadline for census materials, distributed in March, to be returned to the Census Bureau.

“Our goal would be for everybody to just open it up, answer the questions and stick it back in the mail, easy as that,” Riley said. “What happens is people usually put them to the side and they get piled up with mail, and then they forget about them until it’s too late.”

She added that the process is much simpler than in previous years.

“They’re not asking nearly as many questions as they have before,” she said.

A copy of the 2000 Census totaled nearly 40 pages in length and contained questions about a person’s education, military service, job history, salary information, transportation status and other specific questions.

The 2010 form, a sample of which can be found by visiting http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php, contains only the following questions: the number of people living in each house; ownership status of head of household; race, gender, age and date of birth of each resident; Hispanic heritage; and if each person’s living situations are full- or part-time.

The 10 questions take up one page, but there are additional pages depending on how many inhabitants each residence contains.

Riley said the information is “purely statistical” and is not intended to inquire about legal statuses or activities of those filling out the forms. The information received by census representatives cannot be shared, and doing so carries a $250,000 and/or a five-year prison term.

Census data is used by the federal government in determining distribution of funding for local, state and tribal governments.

News releases from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs stated that more than $4 trillion will be allocated nationwide throughout the decade, or $400 billion per year.

Colorado is expected to receive $4.27 billion per year for agencies such as school funding, libraries, student loans, veteran programs, road construction and maintenance, senior services and more.

Riley said the only way to ensure Colorado and the communities that comprise the state get their entitled funding is to fill out the census forms as soon as possible.

The census results also determine population count and how states are represented in Congress.

“For people concerned about their voice in government, this is important,” she said. “The more information you give, the better off you are.”

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