“Hey, that’s not fair!”
How often do we as parents/pediatricians /adults hear this cry from children? Typically, we do not have a good response, other than the standard “sorry, but life isn’t fair.” We throw up our hands up and go on with our day. Yes, life is not fair. But, what if we were given the opportunity to help change that? How often can we actually take concrete steps to make sure that things can be made fairer for us, our families, our patients and our communities?
Well, this spring we can help achieve this. In the March issue of Pediatrics, Ashraf and colleagues (10.1542/peds.2020-0061) review one of the most important things we can do to help make sure families have access to the resources needed to insure the health and well-being of their children. We all need to participate in the 2020 Census, and we need to encourage participation by others as well. An accurate Census count assures that communities receive their fair share of resources and representation. Ashraf et al provide compelling information regarding the consequences of undercounting, and how this disproportionately impacts children. For example, the state of Massachusetts lost over $2,300 of federal revenue for each uncounted person in the 2010 Census. This is a significant loss of resources for healthcare, education, nutrition, and other programs that significantly impact the well-being of children.
Unfortunately, already the deck has been stacked against the 2020 Census even before it is available to fill out. The Census has been plagued by controversy on content, and public concerns about privacy. There is increasing skepticism by the American public regarding any attempts at information-gathering. And only 17% of Americans report high levels of trust in the federal government. This is a record low.
But, in spite of this, 2020 Census support is building. Social media companies have adopted policies that prohibit misinformation being posted regarding the Census. Local communities are mobilizing resources to encourage Census participation. Now, it is time for health care providers to do our part. Table 1 in Ashraf et al is filled with easy and actionable steps on what we can do to help the 2020 Census provide an accurate count to assure that we all get our fair share for the children who live throughout the United States.
If you, or your patients, are not participating in the 2020 Census, then your tax dollars are going someplace else; and your community is not getting the support that it deserves. Let’s make things fair for all and encourage everyone to count, especially children, by having their caregivers complete the 2020 Census.