EFFINGHAM — For many counties in central Illinois, the 2020 census will be vital to receiving federal funding.

United States Census Bureau Partnership Specialist in the Chicago Region Erin Boyd said at the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce First Friday Luncheon that the federal government uses census numbers to allocate nearly $700 billion to federally-funded programs.

“What the census does is after that 10 years when it’s time for a new one, those numbers go in. That is how $675 billion annually ... in federal funding are allocated, according to these census numbers,” Boyd said.

Boyd said many of these federally-funded programs are vital to communities like those in Effingham County, including in schools, health departments and programs like CEFS.

“It’s a lot of these things that people in your community not only use but depend on come from this federal funding, Boyd said.

“Our money for Effingham County is not based on the numbers that come out of Chicago. It’s not based on the numbers that come out of Cairo. It’s not even based on the numbers that come out of Louisville in Clay County. The money that comes back here is based on what we end up with in Effingham County. We absolutely want to make sure we’re counting everyone.”

Boyd said that by filling out the census, citizens are doing their civic duty and can also help ensure Illinois has fair representation in the government. Boyd said fair representation is a big focus for the Census Bureau as far as Illinois because of the dwindling state population numbers; less population means less representation should redistricting occur, Boyd said.

Boyd also announced that for the first time in its history, the census can be taken online. She said the Census Bureau will send a postcard with a code printed on it to every household so citizens can access the online census form.

Citizens will still be able to fill out a physical form and mail it in or phone in their census information for census day on April 1, 2020.

Boyd said one of her duties as a partnership specialist is to find those who are considered the “hard to count” population. Boyd said those who fall under that category are snowbirds, or those who travel elsewhere in colder seasons, high school to college-aged students, those ages zero to five years old and the homeless.

Boyd said these lapses in counts in the hard to count population can cause huge deficits in funding for particular groups, such as those under five years old.

“In our region alone, over 1 million children ages zero to five were not counted in 2010. That is huge. It is an eight-state region, but ... when you think of all the things that funding for that age group can do, that’s a huge deficit,” Boyd said.

Boyd also noted that census data has never been breached, and the Census Bureau does not share information given on the census forms.

The Census Bureau is also seeking non-governmental businesses, organizations and individuals for what Boyd called partnershiping. Boyd said through partnershiping, entities will promote the census and census taking through posting fliers, social media posts, meetings and more.

The Census Bureau is hiring for eight-week positions during the census collection period. Boyd said those interested in working for the bureau during census time should contact her at erin.boyd@2020census.gov.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.

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