Be on the lookout for census forms

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2010

One of the most important civic events for our nation is fast approaching — the 2010 Census. This month, all Adams County households will receive their 2010 Census form. As required by the U.S. Constitution, it is important that every household completes and mails back a form as soon as possible.

Lack of participation can result in our community and nation receiving less federal funding and less access to important services and resources that we might otherwise have received. That’s why the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African American History & Culture has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage participation in the 2010 Census and help achieve a complete and accurate count.

One of the shortest census forms in history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

The individual in whose name the housing unit is rented or owned should complete the form on behalf of every person living there, both relatives and nonrelatives. Take 10 minutes to fill out the form and mail it back. It’s easy.

In Census 2000, the national mail participation rate was 72 percent as of the April 2000 cut-off, while the mail participation rate was 70 percent in Adams County. I challenge everyone to beat the 2000 mail participation rate. By increasing the mail participation rate, we can reduce the overall costs of conducting the 2010 Census and help achieve a more accurate count.

About $85 million is saved for every one percent increase in mail participation. So, I urge all people living in Adams County and surrounding areas to look for and complete and return their 2010 Census form upon receipt.

I ask for your participation because the census provides benefits to our community, state and nation. It’s important for people living in our community to know that the census is much more than a population count. Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census provides an opportunity for you to ensure our community is accurately represented when it comes to funding for essential programs and services.

Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to tribal, state and local governments.

Census data also guide local planning decisions, including where to provide additional social services, establish childcare and senior centers, and build new roads, hospitals, schools and job training and community centers.

Data also are used to reapportion congressional seats to states and assure proper district representation.

Additionally, businesses use census data to inform critical decisions as well as determine locations for new offices and stores, helping to create jobs in our communities. These and many other benefits to our community and families are the reasons why everyone in the United States, every man, woman and child, should participate in the 2010 Census and be counted.

Everyone also needs to know that census participation is safe. The information you provide on your census form is confidential.

By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

The easiest and most efficient method of participating is filling out your form upon its arrival and sending it back in the postage-paid return envelope. Questionnaire Assistance Centers will be available to assist those unable to read or understand the census form, and a Language Assistance Guide also will be available in 59 languages at all QAC locations.

For those with visual impairments, the Language Assistance Guide will be available in large print and Braille. Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who do not have access to Video Relay Service can call the TDD number, 1-866-783-2010.

Join us and take 10 minutes to complete and return your 10-question census form. By completing and returning your census form, you are performing an important civic duty and helping to paint a new portrait of America. Census workers will visit homes that did not return forms beginning in April to take the count in person. Please answer their questions. Census workers can be identified by a badge and a Census Bureau bag.

If you are interested in a job with the 2010 Census, The NAPAC Museum at 301 Main St., will be a testing site for the upcoming Census workers.

On Tuesday, and again on Thursday the test will be administered by U.S. Census personnel at 10:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m. on each respective date.

An evening test will be given at 6 p.m., Wednesday at Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Walk-ins are welcomed; just bring two forms of identification. Your participation can better define the future for you, our community and our country.

Call 1-866-861-2010 for additional employment information or visit www.2010censusjobs.gov.

Darrell White is the director of the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African American History & Culture.