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Opportunities to Reduce the Differential Undercount

Addressing the difficulties in hard-to-count neighborhoods includes both “home-grown” strategies and cooperation with the Bureau.  These strategies, discussed during the How to Count in Hard-to-Count Neighborhoods and Partnership panels at the Undercount Summit and throughout the Hispanic Federation Forum, focus on outreach and ensuring that enumerators have access to the help they need.  

These solutions reflect local challenges and, more importantly, the local resources that can be made available to the Census Bureau.  They range from using the standard Bureau partnership opportunities to really doing something unique such as creating census facilitators to help the enumerators.  Some of these solutions suggest that there are a lot of resources that are being neglected and some areas that could be used more.  For instance, schools can do more than just presenting “Census in the Schools” curriculum.  They are important members of the community that often have a daily relationship with parents in hard-to-count neighborhoods, not only the children.  Therefore, one solution is to expand the schools partnerships.  

There are a lot of solutions.  The participants in the Summit and the Forum only presented a few.  There are solutions in every state, city, neighborhood and community that will work. Moreover, these are solutions that can be implemented right now to reduce the differential undercount.

Undercount Summit

  • “We at the schools, both public and private, from kindergarten to graduate school can serve as a point to reach hard-to-reach areas and populations.  This is especially true serving, as we well know, in every community of Hispanic, immigrant and African American and other minority populations.  Certainly we can all agree around this table that it serves the nation’s best interest to recruit schools in this endeavor.  I gather from my discussions around the table with many of you that has yet to take place.”
    Jaime de la Isla, Assistant Superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX

  • “What we need to do is partnership with the human service community action agencies where people are familiar with dealing with people. They have caseworkers there.  They have people that on a day-to-day basis they have contact with.”
    The Honorable Jimmie Smith, Supervisor, Lauderdale County, MS

  • “The city will be using its libraries, multi-service centers and health clinics as questionnaire assistance centers.  We will be using our personnel in these facilities to help and assist people with the questionnaires.  The city will house the city census task force in a suite upstairs in City Hall.  We’ll have our own office.  We’ll have our own hotline.”
    Johnny Soto, Chief of Staff for John Castillo (District I), Houston City Council, Houston, TX

  • “Special populations require special efforts by the Census Bureau and New York is assisting by identifying the location of all facilities licensed by state agencies as community-based facilities, group quarters, or other institutional facilities.”

    “To improve communication, New York is developing partnerships with county, regional and local governments, businesses, the media and many not-for-profits.  Promotional materials, artwork and text is being made available electronically to spread the message to every part of the state by various methods.  We have our own Census 2000 New York web site.”

    “New York City Census 2000 is working with business improvement districts for the first time across the city publicize the census message.  In addition, the City’s plan encourages residential buildings, both large and small, throughout the city to assign building captains.  The captains will evaluate census awareness by having volunteers knock on each door on April 1st, 2000 to stimulate the completion of questionnaires from all residents…”
    Leslie Maeby, Director, New York State Complete Count Committee, Albany, NY

  • “Hold census forums at school sites which we are going to do at Farren.  Hold mock census enumerations.  Employ parents who work at the school who live in the housing development as the census takers.  Set up sites in the school where residents may give the census information versus having strangers come to the apartments.”
    Gwendolyn Long

  • “Client databases.  Every social service agency has one.  Yes, there’s confidentiality.  But they can take you to the house or they can take you to the client or they can encourage the client either by telephone or by mail to come in to a satellite location to fill out the form.”
    Bill Bowen

  • “[This program] would also establish a volunteer position known as a facilitator and this person will be a trusted and respected individual of good moral character and will hold the ability to provide a comfort zone between the enumerator and the resident….He or she would understand that his time is voluntary and that he would be called on only when enumerators are lost or having difficulty penetrating a home.”
    Lethreanna Gatewood, Chair, Little Rock Missionary Baptist Complete Count Committee, Gulfport, MS

  • We think our existing promotoras program could encourage colonia residents to believe it is safe for them to participate in Census 2000.  Promotoras could encourage them to see that it is important for them to participate.  They could accompany enumerators on home visits where it appears there is a reluctance to talk with people unknown to the residents.  We can assist Census 2000 in identifying dependable colonia residents who could serve as enumerators in those communities.  We believe our existing staff could also help reduce the undercount by mobilizing other outreach programs who we know well to assist enumerators in isolated communities where we do not have a presence ourselves.”

    “Finally we believe we could also hire colonia residents and create team to work with Census 2000 in colonias where no outreach programs now exist.”
    Larry Rincones, Regional Director, Texas A&M Promotoras Program, Weslaco, TX

  • “Somehow I think there has to be a requirement, a minimum standard requirement of clear evidence of plans being in place that focuses on the hard-to-enumerate as a minimal focus and have the expectation of all local entities.”
    Ana Sol Gutierrez
Hispanic Federation Forum
  • “Why not punctuate our ‘Constituent Cause’ in our newsletters with a reminder of the importance of the census, and a promise of confidentiality is implicit.  As, needed, seniors with census questions could be referred to appropriate federal help lines or helped by our own constituent services.”

    “We must also get the Census message into our classrooms.  I know that Census 2000 in partnership with Scholastic heads, has some wonderful free curriculum material available to kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers, tailored for specific grades.  I just want to remind everybody that 20 years ago, my children pestered me because of what they learned in school, and caused me to stop smoking.  It they could do that, they can get their parents to respond to the Census application.  We must tell teachers now that this wonderful resource is available to them and will be available.”
    The Honorable Herbert Berman

  • “One of things we that we are trying to do in our organization is that we are committed to use our own office as a Census question assistance center so that our client, who knows us, will be able to come in and feel comfortable about filling out the form and getting help.”
    Margaret Chin, Asian Americans for Equality

  • “One, one of the unique things that we bring as Catholic Charities of the Arch Diocese of New York and in general as the religious community is that we have what is referred to secularly as branch offices or as others call them, parishes located in every one of the communities of New York City…. You have a ready made network of what can would conceivably be community assistance centers….They are already staffed, for the most part.  Not perfect, by people who speak the languages of those communities because they have to do it on a day to day basis.”

    “The other thing which I will stress over and over again is the question of confidentiality.  Hard to reach populations just don’t believe you.  It is that simple…. That is why there is the need for those trusted third parties to become involved in that.”
    Father Kevin Sullivan

  • “In using third parties like that, I think that is a very useful way of getting people to speak up.”
    Elba MontalvoM