Why the U.S. Census is important for Illinois kids

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 35,000 children in Illinois were missed in the 2010 census. “For every child missed in the Illinois census, it amounted to nearly $35 million lost in funding over a decade and about $1,000 in lost funding for each child. Every child counts,” said Dr. Jennifer Kusma, who practices in the General Academic Pediatrics division of Lurie Children's Hospital.

The U.S. Constitution requires a count of the population each decade. The data collected is 100% confidential and the numbers are used to allocate funds for insurance programs, food stamps, school lunches, foster care and more. Census results are used by the federal government to allocate Medicaid funding, which covers about 38% of children in Illinois who rely on the program for health care coverage.

“Many federal funding resources allocated based on census data impact our hospital and the families we serve,” Kusma said. Children's hospitals including Lurie Children's use census data for research, quality improvement, needs assessments and staffing decisions.

Children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of being missed in the census count. So what can you do? “Make sure you respond to your 2020 U.S. Census and be sure to count babies, even if they are still in the hospital on Census Day and even if they are born on April 1, 2020,” Kusma said.

Children are often missed in the counting because they live in large and complex households, live with single parents or with grandparents, aunts and uncles or other family members. Kusma stresses that everyone who lives and sleeps in your home should be counted, even if these living arrangements are temporary. “It's also important that caregivers coordinate with each other if a child spends equal time between two homes,” Kusma said.

“Completing the census takes about 10 minutes and can be done online or over the phone, in addition to mailing it back. Make sure every child is counted on April 1, 2020!”

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Every child counts

For each child who is not counted in the U.S. Census, Illinois loses about $1,000 in financial support from the federal government, according to the following Urban League of Chicago report:

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. To check out more information, please visit

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