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Census FAQ: What to know in Oklahoma City as the census begins

The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.
The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.


The city of Oklahoma City addressed these frequently asked questions in advance of the 2020 U.S. census. Here's why it is important to be counted.

When will I hear from the Census?

The Census Bureau is mailing letters to every household in the country between March 12 and March 20. The letter includes a Census ID and asks residents to go online and complete basic information about all adults, children and babies staying at that address. The Census Bureau wants everyone to respond by April 1.

What is the Census?

The 2020 Census is a count of every person in the U.S. and its territories who sleeps in your home on April 1 -- regardless of their citizenship, nationality or living situation. The 2020 Census is an opportunity for communities to create a better future for their children and grandchildren. 

How often does the U.S. conduct the Census?

Once every 10 years.

How can I respond to the Census?

Online, by phone or by mail.

The online form is offered in English and 12 additional languages: Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.

You can respond by phone in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese.

The paper form can be completed in English or Spanish.

What questions are on the 2020 Census?

The questionnaire asks how many people are living or staying at each address. For each person, it asks about name, sex, age, date of birth, relationship, Hispanic origin and race. The form also asks whether the housing unit is owned or rented, and for contact information in case additional information is needed. 

Why should I take the time to fill out the Census?

2020 Census results help direct Federal funding for:

  • School breakfast and lunch programs
  • Head start 
  • Medicare part B
  • Pell Grants for college students
  • Housing
  • Medicaid
  • Highways
  • Transit
  • SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

For each person counted in Oklahoma, the state receives about $1,675 per year in federal funding for 10 years.

Oklahoma had the second-lowest participation rate in the country in the 2010 Census, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Commerce. An undercount of just 2% could cost the state $1.8 billion in Federal funding over a decade. Results from the 2020 Census also help determine the number of seats Oklahoma has in Congress.

Is census data confidential?

Yes. All 2020 Census responses are confidential and private. Confidentiality is the law. Census records are kept sealed for 72 years and Census workers are sworn for life to protect your personal information. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau can’t release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau can use your responses only to produce statistics.

What happens if I don’t respond?

The Census Bureau will send an interviewer to your home.

I’m divorced with joint custody of my children. Who counts my kids?

If your children are split between two households, the person who keeps them the most should count them. If their time is split equally, they should be counted in the home they sleep in on April 1.

Do I count children who are staying with me temporarily?

All children who live in your home, including foster children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and the children of friends.

How are college students counted?

College students who are living at home should be counted at their home address. College students who live away from home should be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are at home on April 1, 2020. U.S. college students who are living and attending college outside the United States are not counted in the census.

Related Photos
The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0009d9de08e9c08dc9177895c8fc783b.jpg" alt="Photo - The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census." title="The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census."><figcaption>The city of Oklahoma City produced this poster to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.</figcaption></figure>
William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›

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