|Oregon kids count on us, so they should be ‘counted’ posted on 08/01/2018|
The looming danger of a census undercount in 2020 would
present a serious threat to Oregon children.
Already, 12 percent of Oregon kids under five years old are
at risk of being missed in the census as federal programs that support child
well-being are in jeopardy, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released
June 28 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Oregon ranks 30th in the nation in overall child well-being.
While Oregon continues to lead the majority of states in children’s health care
coverage, improvements in education have lagged with Oregon ranking 48th in the
nation in high school education. Additionally, Oregon is far behind much of the
country in enrolling young children in early education programs.
“Systemic barriers and inequities both past and present have
left us with an uneven playing field,” said Tonia Hunt, executive director of
Children First for Oregon. “Deep disparities … persist for children of color,
low-income children, children in immigrant families and children in rural
An improperly funded census will only contribute to these
“We can achieve an inclusive survey by building and
strengthening strategic community partnerships, spreading awareness, and
removing questions related to citizenship status in order to safeguard the
efficacy of the 2020 census,” Miranda Rabuck, communications director of
Children First for Oregon wrote in an email to The Mountain Times. “It isn’t
too late to conduct a census that provides proper funding, representation, and
programs that support the healthy development of kids.”
Census outreach efforts face daunting challenges, with
children in underserved communities most at risk of being undercounted. These
same children also stand to suffer the most in the event that vital programs
face reductions in funding.
“More than $2 billion in federal funds are allocated each
year to programs in Oregon such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program and Head Start using census-derived data,” Hunt said. “An inaccurate
census could put these funds – and the essential resources they provide for
communities – at risk.”
This data should prompt urgency from policymakers and
communities to do right by our kids, Hunt added. “Children lack political power
and representation. It’s up to all of us to ensure all kids are counted and
considered national and state priorities.”By Larry Berteau/MT