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Amid Closures, Groups Focus on Counting All KY Kids in Census

Researchers estimate that more than 1 million children were missed in the U.S. population count for the 2010 census. (Adobe Stock)
Researchers estimate that more than 1 million children were missed in the U.S. population count for the 2010 census. (Adobe Stock)
March 18, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky households now can complete the 2020 census form online or by phone. That's the message children's advocacy groups want residents to know as the national survey begins.

Kevin Middleton, president of United Way of Kentucky, said counting kids is even more urgent as public libraries, child-care centers and other community locations that typically help families complete the census forms have closed amid the COVID-19 public-health crisis.

"The ripple effects of COVID-19 have put really in sharp relief just how important these programs and services are to keeping us healthy and fed," he said.

Middleton said funding for programs such as CHIP, Medicare and Medicaid, and food assistance such as SNAP are tied to accurate census data.

Dollars for early-childhood education also are at stake. John Mountjoy, executive director of the Kentucky Head Start Association, said that, in addition to teaching children younger than age 5, Head Start programs also serve the needs of low-income parents. They can offer assistance finding medical or mental-health care, workforce training, and keeping food on the table.

"If we think about a state like Kentucky, we've got over 20,000 kids right now who are eligible for Head Start programs and Head Start-like programs, but aren't in anything," he said, "and a lot of reason for that is, there's not enough space. There are wait lists."

Mountjoy said more than 12,000 young children in the Commonwealth went uncounted in the 2010 census, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade.

Gov. Andy Beshear is urging residents who may have questions about the census to visit countmeinKY2020.com. More information about filling out the census form is online at my2020census.gov.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY