Helping Your Student Participate in the 2020 US Census

The United States Census is coming and you can help prepare your student by emphasizing the importance to our community and answering any questions your student may have.

You may find that your student is distrustful of the government and reluctant to participate. By providing information, you may be able to help your student make a decision to participate in this very important process.  Here is some information to get you started and a great resource put out by the City of Watsonville.

  • Every 10 years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the federal government undertakes a census count of the U.S. population to determine the allocation of seats held by each state in the House of Representatives. The next federal census is April 1, 2020.
  • Census forms will begin arriving in mid-March 2020 and they should be returned no later than Census Day, April 1st, 2020. Responses to the census form should include everyone living at that address. There will be four ways to respond: via the internet, over the phone, by mail or in person.
  • Every year, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion to state, local and tribal governments based on census data. Census data guides local planning decisions, including where to provide additional social services, build new roads, hospitals and schools, and where to locate job-training centers.

Your student may be concerned about the confidentiality of the information they are asked to provide.  You can reassure them with the following information:

  • Under the law, Census data can only be used for statistical purposes. Title 13 of the U.S. Code requires respondent’s information to be kept confidential, and guarantees personal information will not be used against respondents in court or by a government agency.
  • Personal census information cannot be disclosed for 72 years (including names, addresses, and telephone numbers).
  • Census Bureau staff who have access to personal information are sworn for life to protect confidentiality, and are subject to a $250,000 fine and/or up to five years in federal prison for wrongful disclosure of information.

Resources to use with your student for lessons on the census, including what is asked and the reasons for each question, can be found at:



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