Why the 2010 Census is Important for You and Your Family

By Don Oellerich, Deputy Chief Economist, Office
of Human Services Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human

The Census only
happens every 10 years. At that time of the census, the Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to make sure that every
single adult and child is counted because the Census count is used
for many very important purposes—purposes that affect you and
every LBGT family.  Some uses of Census data, like
establishing state and federal voting districts, give you
representation in Congress.  From babies that are one
day old to grandmothers who are 101 years old, the total count of
individuals from the census is used to determine the number of
congressional districts in a state, their size, and geographic

It is with the
help of the Representative from your Congressional District, that
Congress decides what kinds of programs and benefits your family
will have access to and the level of resources these programs will
have.  All federal health and social services
programs are authorized by Congress and have their budgets decided
by Congress. This includes many programs that are administered by
states, but receive some or their entire program funding from the
federal government. 

The April 2010
Census form, which every household is asked to fill out and return,
is a very short document but the information is crucial to many
program and budgeting decisions.  The information
collected—age, race and ethnicity and gender—for every person
in the household, is used to make sure that all of the other survey
data collected by Census is correct. That is, that the Census
estimates based on smaller surveys actually reflect the composition
of the households who fill out their Census forms. 

Let us give you
an example.  Census conducts a number of surveys that
collect income and employment information. These surveys are very
important because many programs use the number of families with
incomes below poverty for making decisions about how much money a
state receives.  But it would be very expensive to
ask everyone in the United States questions about their income and
employment so a smaller number of households are selected to
represent everyone in the United States. The national census data
is then used to make sure that these smaller estimates actually
reflect the number of families that are female headed, that have
young children, that are African- American, and that are Hispanic.
Without the full census, it would not be possible to make sure that
all families are included in our national estimates.

There are lots
of Health and Human Services programs that use the information
collected by the Census Bureau. Let us tell you about a few of them
and how the Census data helps make sure these programs are
available for you when you need them. 

Head Start and
Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs which
serve low-income children from birth to age five and their
families.  Programs make sure that children are ready for school
and receive comprehensive health screening. The program also helps
parents increase their parenting skills and get other types of
assistance that will help them take better care of their children.
The number of poor children under 5 years of age in each state is
used to target where additional Head Start programs are needed.
Current Head Start funding is about $9 billion per

The child
welfare services program provides $282 million in flexible funding
for services to prevent the neglect, abuse or exploitation of
children and to promote the safety, permanence and well-being of
children in foster care and adoptive families. This funding is
distributed to states based on the proportion of all children under
age 21 who live in the state. 

The low-income
Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides about $5 billion
for heating and cooling assistance programs in every state and for
Indian Tribes and Alaskan Native communities. If you have trouble
paying for heating in the winter or cooling in the summer, this is
a program that might be able to help you pay your bills. Census
data is used to determine the funding formula to states based on
the number of incomeeligible
households. The program uses information from the census on the
number households with children under 6 and households with
individuals 60 and older to make sure that funding is being
provided to those most in need. 

Administration on Aging provides about $1.2 billion to states,
territories, and tribes to deliver home and community-based
supportive and nutrition services that help elderly individuals
maintain their health and independence in their homes and
communities. If you have a parent, spouse, partner, or friend that
needs assistance maintaining an independent lifestyle, the local
AoA agency is an invaluable resource for obtaining services such as
transportation, personal care or chore services, disease prevention
programs,  or nutritious meals. AoA’s caregiver support programs
provide respite care, support groups, and other services to help
family members and friends continue providing care for their loved
ones. Because funding from AoA is allocated to states primarily
based on the size of the older population, and within states
resources are allocated based on population size, income
distribution and other factors, Census data are critically
important to ensuring that these services are available to the
elderly most in need.

The Maternal
and Child Health Block Grant is a $660 million public health
program that reaches across economic lines to improve the health of
all mothers and children. States use block grant funding to conduct
public education and outreach, lead poisoning and injury
prevention, and health and safety promotion in child care settings
and to provide support services for children with special
healthcare needs, newborn screening and genetic services, and to
provide direct healthcare services where services would otherwise
be unavailable. The allocations for these funds are determined in
part by the proportion of low-income children in the

Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant provides $1.8
billion to states to provide prevention and treatment services to
individuals, families and communities impacted by substance abuse,
such as alcohol, drugs and prescription medicines. This is the
primary funding source for many of the prevention and drug
treatment programs available in communities. The funding for this
program is distributed to states based on population size, income
and other factors.   

The programs
we’ve discuss provide about $18 billion to states to help
families.  One of things you might have noticed is
that funding is based on different pieces of census data. Some
formulas use the entire population, others look at only a smaller
part of the population, such as elderly, or young children, or
children up to age 21.  Because programs often need
information about the specific population that can use their
services, it is very important that every one who lives in your
household, even if that arrangement is temporary, be included on
the census form.

While funding
is a major use of census data, there are other important ways that
the Department of Health and Human Services uses information from
the decennial census and related Census Bureau data collections.
One of the most important ways is to understand what families in
the USA look like and what are the issues that they face. We
don’t want LGBT families to be invisible, and so we encourage you
to send back your 2010 census form and to participate when asked in
any survey sponsored by the Census Bureau or other federal
agencies. We’re counting on you. 

*  *


Want to know
more about how the 2010 Census will impact your family?

Please join our
panel of experts for a live, interactive teleconference and Q &
A about the ins and outs of the 2010 U.S. Census and have all your
questions answered. 

2010 U.S.
Census Teleconference

March 16,


Line: 1-866-730-7514

Pin #:

Please follow
along with our power point presentation by joining our virtual
meeting space at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/join/119392400 

With expert
guests including: 

Oellerich, Deputy Chief Economist, Office of Human Services Policy,
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation,
Department of Health and Human Services 

Laura M.
Waldon, LGBT Partnership Specialist, U.S. Census

Gary J. Gates,
Williams Distinguished Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA School of

Kara S.
Suffredini, Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement,
Family Equality Council