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Building Trust Key to Ensuring All MN Kids are Counted in Census

Personal fears related to immigration status and overcrowded housing situations are considered common reasons why young kids are undercounted in the census. (Adobe Stock)
Personal fears related to immigration status and overcrowded housing situations are considered common reasons why young kids are undercounted in the census. (Adobe Stock)
May 15, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS - The 2020 Census count has been delayed by the pandemic, but groups wanting to ensure that children are counted are getting their message out. In Minnesota, efforts are underway to educate families in communities of color.

The state has declared May 15 as "Count All Kids Day." It's estimated that 2% of children statewide were missed in the 2010 count.

Nationwide, children of color were missed at double the rate of their white peers. Camila Mercado Michelli is advocacy manager at CLUES, a Minnesota nonprofit that serves Latinx families.

She says they're trying to dispel any myths that census takers are government workers up to no good.

"There is, like, this distrust with a government agency," says Michelli. "And because the Census Bureau falls in that group, that's one of the biggest challenges."

She says gaining trust will convince more families to participate in the process and include their children in the count. CLUES has been holding community discussions that include census representatives and immigration attorneys, to help assure concerned residents that their information will be protected.

Jennifer Bertram, KIDS Count coordinator at the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says the undercount of young children in the last census cost the state nearly $200 million in federal aid.

And as Congress considers providing more long-term help for pandemic recovery, she says a more accurate count will help young kids - who have already seen the effects of achievement gaps during the crisis.

"Just reflecting on who has access to reliable internet is really making a difference," says Bertram, "in terms of how children can get access to their educational needs right now, and who has access to proper nutrition."

Advocates fear that the number of young children missed could double in the 2020 count, if not enough awareness is raised.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund- Minnesota Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN