Now is the time US Census workers would have been knocking on doors and asking Arkansans that have not yet completed their census to do so. Covid-19 sure did throw a wrench in a lot of things, including getting the most accurate count possible of our population – no easy feat even without a pandemic. If you still haven’t gotten around to completing the census, don’t stress: individuals and families have until October 31, 2020 to complete their census (pre Covid-19 deadline was July 31st).
Since mid-March, most media attention has understandably gone to coverage of Covid-19 and the effect it’s having on our state and local communities. Arkansans are in desperate need of assistance for their small businesses or because they are unemployed or furloughed. Kids who relied on school breakfast and lunch programs may not be getting the meals they depend on. Folks who no longer receive a paycheck are deciding to spend money on rent or groceries. These situations -and many more- warrant attention from our media channels and action from our state leaders and elected officials. But we still need to talk about the census.
The same issues Arkansans are facing in the wake of Covid-19 are problems that have and could be solved by federal funding. How many people we count in Arkansas’s population directly determines how much money we get for specific projects and programs. Those school breakfasts and lunches? Funded in part by federal dollars as a result of our census count. Money for unemployment insurance? Funding allocated to our state after census count determines how much we get. If anything, the needs that Arkansans have right now as a result of Covid-19 are met in part by money we’ve received as a result of our population count. If we undercount the people in our state (i.e. if Arkansans don’t get around to completing their census forms), that means less money for things like the Headstart program, metal health services, housing assistance for the elderly, grants for teachers, support for rural area development, disabled veterans outreach, fire departments, roads, small business development centers, and so much more.
That’s where you come in as an Arkansan: If you have completed your census, great! Consider sharing about it on your social media channels with a graphic below. If you haven’t filled out your census, here’s how. Fill out a form online or complete the census that was mailed to you earlier this year. It just takes a few minutes to complete online, and a few minutes of your time equals more money around the corner to help everyday Arkansans. From business owners to firefighters, from teachers to students, every Arkansas should be able to receive services they need to be safe, healthy, and successful. Complete your census today if you haven’t already.