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An accurate count of all children is vital. The decisions based on the 2020 Census will impact schools for the next decade. Annually, Montana receives $500 million for education programs. While social distancing, take this time to introduce kids to the Census. Read relevant passages from the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2), talk about civic responsibility, look at past Census data for Montana and your city, then fill out your 2020 Census online at my2020census.gov.

For teachers, parents and guardians who are looking for educational resources now that students are learning online from home, the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistics in Schools program offers free curriculum to educate students from pre-K through 12th grade about the value and everyday uses of Census data. 

Remember: All kids count in the 2020 Census, no matter how old they are. Make sure to count your entire household when you fill out the Census. 

Here's how Census data impacts children:

Special education and ESL services.

Free and reduced-priced lunches. 

Class sizes.

Class technology. 

Teacher training. 

After-School programs. 

Early childhood experiences. 

Playgrounds and public parks. 

Public transportation.

Governor Steve Bullock has called on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to extend the deadline for the decennial census from Aug. 14, 2020, to at least Sept. 30, 2020, to ensure an accurate count while allowing for continued health and safety measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Many planned efforts to achieve high self-response rates from hard-to-count populations and rural geographic areas are no longer viable due to COVID-19 response measures, including those mandated by the U.S. Census Bureau,”Governor Bullock said in the letter.“More time is needed for effective outreach.”

Governor Bullock specifically noted Montana’s “significant share of hard-to-count residents, seven tribal reservations, and our low population density over a large land area,” which all present challenges to getting an accurate census count.

“In Montana, we must ensure that everyone is counted in the 2020 Census. Our schools, hospitals, highways, communities and families depend on it,”continued Governor Bullock.

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau extended the census deadline by two weeks, from the end of July to Aug. 14.

Montana is one of the states with the lowest self-response scores in the nation, as shown on the U.S. Census Bureau's map. This is primarily due to the 20-35 percent (or over 100,000 households) who have not received a Census invitation because they collect their mail at P.O. boxes or rural route addresses, which the U.S. Census Bureau cannot mail to. Although Montana has made great strides we still have a long way to go to obtain a complete count. 

Lt. Governor Mike Cooney and the State Complete Count Committee are working closely with rural and tribal partners to get out the word about the importance of completing the Census. The more people who fill out the Census online, the fewer enumerators the U.S. Census Bureau will eventually have to send into the field which is especially critical as we try and reduce person-to-person contact across the state. 

Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state's share of federal funding over the next decade, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.

Remember, no Census ID is required to fill out your Census! Filling out the Census is quick, easy, and safe. It will take less than 10 minutes to complete and your information and privacy are protected by federal law.

The 2020 Census is now live and available to fill out online at my2020census.gov.

The 2020 Census can also be completed by phone in the following in over 15 languages or by TDD:

English: 844-330-2020

Spanish: 844-468-2020

TDD (Telephone Display Device): 844-467-2020

With the U.S. Census Bureau suspending all field operations until April 15, and potentially later, it means that households across Montana, especially those that are in rural locations or have a P.O. Box, will not receive any Census material until the Census Bureau restarts their door-to-door operations. This does not mean that you should wait to fill out your form, because even if you have not received your invitation to participate and do not have your 12-digit Census ID you can still fill out your form now!

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