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Seniors Count: Make Sure They're Counted!

The 2020 Census – the nation's once-per-decade count of every American – will be conducted over the next several months. The Census determines the allocation of federal funding among the states and their representation in Congress. New Yorkers' fair share of federal funds for essential programs and our voice in key federal policy decisions depend on an accurate and fully counted census response. Senior citizens, who represent approximately 16 percent of New York State's population, are at risk of being undercounted. The 2020 Census is the first census to be conducted largely online, with paper submission offered as a secondary option. A survey conducted by the Census Bureau found that 56 percent of seniors are uncomfortable with the online format. Providers of long term care and senior services, retirement communities, and operators of senior housing can help to ensure that their clients are counted by offering education and conducting outreach about the 2020 Census.

Nursing homes and certain assisted living facilities are classified as "group quarters" and play a special role in supporting the Census. Facilities will be contacted by the Census Bureau with information about the enumeration process and will be asked to select their preferred enumeration method (e.g., facility self-enumeration, individual interviews of residents by a census taker, electronic response, paper response). Most group quarters will receive a letter from the Census Bureau on Jan. 14, 2020 explaining the steps in the Group Quarters Enumeration process and notifying them that Census Bureau representatives will be calling or visiting their facility. Between Feb. 3rd and March 6, 2020, Census Bureau representatives from area census offices will call each group facility to explain the enumeration process, collect certain identifying information about the facility, obtain the facility's preferred enumeration method, and schedule a date and time for the Census Bureau to visit the facility to conduct the enumeration, if necessary. More information about the Group Quarters Enumeration is available here and here.

Residents of private homes and independent living units will receive a postcard invitation to respond online to the 2020 Census between March 12th and 20th. Those who do not respond will receive the paper form in the mail. If a household still does not respond, the Census Bureau will send a census taker to the home to collect the household’s data. People who live in areas that the Census Bureau has determined are most likely to lack broadband internet service will receive a paper form in the first mailing. Operators of senior housing, retirement communities, and community services can help their clients to understand the census process and encourage participation. More information for housing and community service programs is available here.

The New York Academy of Medicine will be distributing a toolkit and offering a webinar to providers that serve older adults. LeadingAge NY will provide additional information about these resources when they become available. Many communities have created "Complete Count Committees" to promote awareness of the Census. To find the Complete Count Committees in your service area, click here. Organizations that would like to receive the latest information and outreach materials about the 2020 Census may become "Census Partners." Information about signing up to be a Census Partner is available here. General information about the 2020 Census is available here.

Contact: Karen Lipson, klipson@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8383 ext. 124