Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a census, which is an official count of the population of the United States. Terrebonne Parish receives the most benefits when everyone in the parish is counted. The next census count will occur this year, and the official Census Day will be April 1, 2020.
Getting an accurate census count is essential for the parish. The census determines the allocation of representatives to serve in the legislative bodies of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Louisiana State Legislature, and within voting districts. Census information is also used to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support schools, hospitals, fire departments, road improvements, public works, and other social services.
Despite the importance of the census for political representation and funding, the response rate in the 2010 census was low. The response rate was 74% for the entire United States and only 65% in Louisiana. Furthermore, 47 out of the 64 parishes had response rates lower than 70%. Therefore, there is an opportunity to reach out to even more people in the parish to ensure that they know about the significance of the census and how they can participate.
To help with the census count, Terrebonne Parish has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to form a Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. This committee is made up of community leaders who will help Terrebonne Parish obtain the most accurate and complete population count for Census 2020. The committee includes representatives from local tribes, Terrebonne Parish School District, Terrebonne Churches United Food Bank, Terrebonne Parish Library, Catholic Charities, Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation District, and Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, among many others. These representatives work together to devise solutions to get a complete census count for the parish in 2020.
For the first time, this census will allow residents to fill out the census online, in addition to the traditional mail-in form. There is also a phone number that residents can call if they would like more assistance filling out the census. Residents will receive an invitation to participate beginning in mid-March 2020, with information on the three different methods available to fill out the census form. The census form is only 9 questions. It asks how many people are living in the home, whether the home is owned or rented, the phone number (which will only be used for official census business), and the name, sex, age, ethnicity, and race of each person living in the home.
The census is completely confidential. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect all personal information. Each Census Bureau employee swears an oath to protect personal information for life. The answers to the census cannot be used for law enforcement purposes or be applied to eligibility for government benefits. In addition, census responses cannot be used against anyone by any agency or court in any way. By law, census officials must keep census information confidential and only use the responses to produce statistics (2020census.gov).
To spread the word about the census, the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee has created a website, countdabayou.org, with information about the census, the committee, and even available jobs with the census. There are a number of part-time jobs available to work with the census, starting now and going through summer of 2020. The positions pay $18-$20 an hour plus mileage. There are multiple positions available to residents who will be over 18 in April. The positions are part-time and flexible. To apply for a job, go to census.gov/jobs.
There are also outreach materials available at 2020census.gov/en/partners/outreach-materials. The materials include posters, postcards, flyers, and social media content. All of the materials can be downloaded and printed from the website. The committee would appreciate the public’s help getting the word out by liking, following, and sharing our social media sites and sharing census information at any upcoming events or meetings. Please email email@example.com for more information about outreach materials or to inform the committee about an upcoming meeting or event.
Members of the Complete Count Committee will hand out outreach materials at a number of upcoming events, including the Council on Aging Mardi Gras Social for Seniors, the March for the Wetlands, the Craftin’ Cajuns Craft Show, Downtown Live After 5, the Houma Louisiana Wedding Expo, Southdown Marketplace, the Good Earth Market, and Lemonade Day and Maker’s Fair. For more information on upcoming events, visit the countdabayou.org News and Events page.
All of this outreach will culminate in Census Day (April 1, 2020) at the Main Library. Residents will be able to fill out the census online at the Main Library at 151 Library Drive in Houma and at participating libraries throughout the parish. Feel free to stop by the Main Library on Census Day, fill out your census form, and pick up some refreshments and an I Count sticker.
Remember, the census determines political representation and funding for the parish. Make Terrebonne Parish count, and Count da Bayou!