Batavia Counts Census 2020 wants you to be counted

The United States 2020 Census is right around the corner and counting everyone in Batavia will be a challenge.

That's why the Batavia Counts 2020 Census Committee is encouraging residents to watch their mail beginning in mid-March and to fill out their census form online as soon as possible.

Ensuring an accurate census count is extremely important for Batavia and the state of Illinois. Census results are used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives and can affect boundaries of legislative districts.

More than $675 billion will be distributed to support state and county schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other vital programs. Results also help to determine funding for libraries and library systems.

The Batavia Public Library received a subgrant from the Reaching Across Illinois Library System's (RAILS) "Census 2020: It Counts!" grant project, which was a recipient of a grant from the Pritzker Administration and the Illinois Department of Human Services.

According to Joanne Zillman, the library's deputy director and co-chair of the Batavia Counts committee, the grant money is being used to help promote Batavia's participation in the 2020 census, and especially to reach six hard-to-count populations - children younger than five years, renters, people living close to or below the poverty line, older adults, those experiencing homelessness, and people who are young and mobile.

Zillman and the Batavia Counts committee, which includes city staff; representatives from the school, park, and library districts; the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry; Batavia clergy; League of Women Voters; and other individuals and organizations, are working to spread the word.

"As trusted messengers in our community, it is our duty to educate the hard-to-count populations about the importance of being counted and how a complete count can benefit these populations and our community as a whole," Zillman explained.

The ease of completing the census online is also encouraging to the committee.

"This is the first time people can complete the census online," said Zillman. "Those without home computers or access to the Internet are welcome to use a library computer free of charge during regular library hours to complete the census.

Letters to every resident address will be mailed beginning in mid-March. The letter contains a code which the resident will use to access the census online.

If residents do not respond online, they can expect a paper questionnaire in the mail in April, and if they don't complete and return the paper questionnaire, they can expect a knock on their door sometime beginning in May. A Census Bureau representative will then take the resident's information in person.

"What we cannot stress enough is that the census is safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Information gathered in the census is not shared with any other government agency - not the FBI, ICE, or DHS," Zillman said.

For those who speak a language other than English, there are guides to the census online in many other languages. The census form also is available online in Spanish.

The Batavia Counts committee is placing printed census information around town to help encourage and educate residents. The library, 10 S. Batavia Ave., will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 23, to share information about the census. A representative from the Census Bureau will be on hand to answer questions. All are welcome. Registration is not required.

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