MONTICELLO, NY — Sullivan County is next to last in the state in terms of public health outcomes. It turns out the county is also next to last in the state— 61 out of 62—when it …
MONTICELLO, NY — Sullivan County is next to last in the state in terms of public health outcomes. It turns out the county is also next to last in the state— 61 out of 62—when it comes to participating in the U.S. Census which takes place every 10 years.
People working on the census in Sullivan County this year held a press conference at the government center on March 2 and stressed the importance of counting everyone.
The last time the census was taken, Sullivan was seriously under-counted, which means the county receives less money for many federal programs than it would if everyone was counted. The census determines the allocation of $675 billion in funding that pays for schools, hospitals, roads and dozens of federal programs. The census will also determine how many congressional representatives New York State will have.
According to materials handed out, residents living in or near Monticello were undercounted by an estimated 27.8 percent, while those living in or near the Village of Liberty were undercounted by about 27.3 percent.
While invitations to participate in the census will be mailed out later in March, there are several additional ways to participate in the program. It can be done through the mail, on the phone and on the internet. Because some 20 percent of Sullivan County residents don’t have access to high-speed broadband connections, the 11 libraries in the county will allow residents to use internet access at those locations to complete census forms. If residents don’t participate through mail, phone or internet, a person from the census bureau will be sent to the house.
Several speakers at the news conference made a point of saying that the information given on the census forms or given to a census taker in person are “safe, secure and protected by federal law.” A fact sheet distributed at the press conference says, “By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and not by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”
Mary Berk, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census, said “We need people to understand that the census is safe. I know there is a lot of concern. The environment today is very challenging for us, because not only do people not trust government [but] we [also] have families that are on the move; we have a very mobile population. We have families that are very complex, unlike before, maybe children that live with one parent one week and another parent the other week.”
Counting children under the age of five is one of the biggest challenges for census takers. According to the fact sheet, “An estimated 5 percent of kids under the age of five weren’t counted in the 2010 census. That’s about 1 million young children, the highest of any age group.” The census workers hope to shrink that gap this year.
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