News

Jun
30

DESPITE COVID-19 CONDITIONS, PIERCE COUNTY BEATS THE 2010 CENSUS SELF-RESPONSE RATE

Filed Under: Census 2020 - Posted @ 4:26pm

In June Pierce County surpassed the 2010 response rate of 66.7%, despite the conditions of COVID-19.

Rural Pierce County communities like Buckley, South Prairie, Wilkeson, and Carbonado are often undercounted in census data. Steven Liefsen, Director of Equity and Achievement at White River School District, shared why having complete and accurate census data in rural communities he serves is so important, “We have a growing population of Hispanic families and the education of their kids matters just as much as the 5th generation Buckley families who have been there forever, and they have all of the resources that they need in front of them in order to help their kids become successful. Our responsibility is to every child, not just those kids. We take that responsibility really seriously and we want to make sure we have the resources available to meet those needs.”

“Prior to COVID-19, I didn’t fully understand the impact of the census, but it really hit home professionally this year when one of our grants was cut by 53% due to lack of census data. When 80% of the dollars spent are on staff, 53% is a significant cut. Those dollars have names attached to them, and those names have families, and those people serve kids who are otherwise underserved in our school system.”

Steven is part of the 2020 Census grantee cohort, working together to help ensure that every resident of Pierce County is informed, engaged, and valued, especially under the ever-changing conditions of COVID-19. Due to the severe impacts of COVID-19 and the various increments of the stay-at-home order, organizations forced to adjust their day-to-day operations and to pivot their current 2020 Census outreach efforts.

Members of the 2020 Census grantee cohort shared their revised strategies for census outreach and the importance of census participation to their communities.

TACOMA URBAN LEAGUE

Tacoma Urban League’s Make Black Count Committee is comprised of Black and African-led organizations across Pierce County working together to be counted in the 2020 Census.

T’wina Nobles, President and CEO, “our online efforts intensified and included a 2020 Census text messaging campaign. We must continue putting accurate information into the hands of our community members. Even with everything changing, we still have to remind folks to put energy behind the census.

“The census is important for representation, money, and power. We need funds in our community for infrastructure, education, and hospitals. We need an accurate count in order to serve our community, and that population is constantly changing.”

“It is important that funds are spent wisely in different areas that are always experiencing disparities. COVID-19 has exposed those disparities.”

OASIS YOUTH CENTER

Under the conditions of COVID-19, Oasis moved to online programming, hosting weekly virtual check-ins for youth.

“The need to connect was higher, so we pivoted to and modified our digital programming rather quickly”, explained Matthew Wilson, Executive Director of Oasis Youth Center. “We used text communications a lot more and we got pretty good responses and feedback from our youth.

“Because we are meeting youth at the beginning stages of their life, incorporating the census education and outreach gets them learning about civic engagement and what happens after that. For example, having a discussion as to why there is no sexual orientation question on the census, and why that is. It gives them the opportunity to talk about what kind of work they can do as they become adults while learning how to be advocates for themselves and the community.”

ASIAN PACIFIC CULTURAL CENTER (APCC)

Asian Pacific Cultural Center strongly encourages all members of their community to get involved with the census.

“We continue to make phone calls, and we try to see them in small gatherings in the community. Right now, we are helping our community members complete the census online, over the phone. If we don’t, a lot won’t do it otherwise,” said Lua Pritchard, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Cultural Center. “We really need to be counted! Our population is growing. Can you imagine how many are not counted?

“It is important that funds are spent wisely in different areas that are always experiencing disparities. COVID-19 has exposed those disparities. Without the community-based organizations and the grassroots organizing, I don’t know how we would make it.”

“The census becomes even more critical to make sure that the needs of all kids, and not just kids from a white, middle-class, two-parent home, are met.”

WHITE RIVER SCHOOL DISTRICT

Accurate census data provides funding supports to White River School District providing important services for kids and families.

Steven Liefsen, Director of Equity and Achievement at White River School District, noted the obstacle of conducting outreach to families with only P.O. boxes, “we started working with Janece Levien, GTCF Senior Program Officer and created a strategy to distribute fliers to those people with P.O. Boxes. We also included materials through school lunch programs and local food banks, making sure there was no way people would go without hearing about the census in our community. The census is important because our school funding can fluctuate due to a census count, so we are unable to provide extra support services to students who are academically struggling in school without that funding.

“Prior to COVID-19, I didn’t fully understand the impact of the census, but it really hit home professionally this year when one of our grants was cut by 53% due to lack of census data. When 80% of the dollars spent are on staff, 53% is a significant cut. Those dollars have names attached to them, and those names have families, and those people serve kids who are otherwise underserved in our school system.”

BEATING 2010 SELF-RESPONSE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

As of June 2020, Pierce County surpassed its 2010 self-response rate of 66.7%, but there is still more work to be done to make sure all communities are accurately counted.

This video, produced by the University of Washington-Tacoma Center for Applied Urban Research, shows how just a 10% undercount can affect funding, business, and political representation. Climbing to a 100% response rate has a direct impact on the resources available to Pierce County.

 

Self-respond today and complete the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.

 

 

FURTHER RESOURCES

Census Hard To Count Maps

How to Respond to the Census

Pierce County 2020 Census

White River School District

Tacoma Urban League

Asia Pacific Cultural Center

Oasis Youth Center