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Thursday, June 4, 2020

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Complete Count Committee continues Census prep

Jan 9, 2020

By Joseph Abraham - co-editor

By: Contributed Graphic
The Sullivan County Complete Count Committee recently developed a logo in both English and Spanish, and are working to improve the county's census response rate.
SULLIVAN COUNTY -- The Sullivan County Complete Count Committee (CCC) is on a mission to improve our county's census response rate.
According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, Sullivan County was ranked second to last in the 2010 census response rates in the state, at 69.5 percent.
The county's most undercounted areas can be viewed on an interactive map at census.gov/roam.
Data collected by the census every 10 years is not only used for population numbers, but can also affect the amount of federal funding an area receives, or political redistricting.

CCC is part of a Statewide effort to substantially increase participation in the 2020 U.S. Census, and is co-chaired by Sullivan County Director of Communications Dan Hust and Division of Planning, Community Development and Real Property Commissioner Freda Eisenberg. CCC was created by Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez at the behest of the State and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Currently CCC consists of approximately 30 people (representing the County, the Census Bureau, the hospital, the college, Renaissance, Sullivan 180, ATI, SALT, BOCES, religious institutions and other community oriented agencies), and has been meeting monthly since last spring.
“We cannot overstate the importance of increasing Census awareness and response,” Eisenberg said. “Census counts are tied to funding received for roads and public works, for schools, and for social service programs like WIC and SNAP, among others.”
Populations that are hardest to count also tend to be the most at risk and in need of the funding that Census counts influence.
With respect to Congressional representation, New York State's delegation has shrunk every decade since 1953 when it was at a high of 45 members. Today the state has 27. A strong count would stave off further diminishment. Businesses also look at Census data when making decisions on where to locate.

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS
The 2020 Census is very different from past years. It's the first one which asks people to complete it online, which will be a challenge for communities without universal Internet access. There will also be options to complete a printed form, or to answer the Census questions by phone, but most people will get a mailing asking them to complete the survey online.
Visit www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/ to see how you will be initially contacted by the Census.
Another challenge is that no Sullivan County communities will be receiving bilingual mailings, which raises concerns for the county's growing Spanish-speaking population that CCC will have to work harder to reach.
They've already developed a logo in both English and Spanish.
CCC has conducted and promoted a number of Census enumerator (worker) recruitment events, researched and made connections with other CCCs engaged in similar efforts, developed strategies for reaching our undercounted populations, and applied for regional and State funding.
According to Hust, they're awaiting word on those funding streams, and planning an outreach kickoff event in March, as the Census itself runs from April to July.
Additional CCC strategies include hiring a full-time coordinator and perhaps additional staff for the next few months, so they can have folks dedicated to this effort; creating a poster, Facebook page, advertising and other promotional material geared towards cultivating awareness with the county's undercounted populations; conducting one major and perhaps several smaller outreach events to further spotlight this effort; and assisting the Census Bureau in making sure local recruiters are available and trained.

GETTING INVOLVED
CCC will be making a major recruitment push during the week of January 20, with a Census Bureau recruiter at the Sullivan County Center for Workforce Development. However, if you're interested, you can contact the Center anytime for information and assistance on getting Census outreach work.
“Local workers are more effective than those from outside the community,” Eisenberg said. “There are many unfilled positions, and it would benefit the County to have more people sign up.”
According to Eisenberg, hourly wages are going to increase from $17 to $19, and people can work between 20 and 35 hours a week with shifts designed to work around their existing commitments. She adds that, “It can be an excellent way for someone to supplement their income for a few months while also helping their community.”
CCC can provide materials or bring a presentation on the Census to any group that would like more information, whether it be a municipality, business, PTA, church group, civic association or even a volunteer gardening group or knitting club. Anyone interested should reach out to Eisenberg or Hust.
Also, you do not have to be a citizen to be a Census 2020 worker.
Eisenberg notes that people who applied online and have not yet heard back should expect to this month or in February. She also notes that people should be wary of fraudulent sites that are easy for people to mistake as an official Census Bureau application. The Census Bureau has been working diligently to eliminate them.
Local libraries have shown willingness to be Census info centers (including serving as a place where people can fill out the Census questionnaire), and CCC is also investigating purchasing standalone kiosks for highly travelled locations like the Government Center, SUNY Sullivan and Catskill Regional Medical Center.
“Our voices and our wallets are at serious risk if we do not participate, and we are confident that this information will not be misused or otherwise compromise our privacy and safety,” Hust said. “Participating in the Census benefits you, your neighbors, your family, your friends and your bottom line.”

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