Child Welfare

All Children Count! How to Count Children in Temporary Placement and Living with Relatives in the 2020 Census

March 7, 2020 | Ohio

March 7, 2020

With the start of the 2020 Census only weeks away, we need to focused on making sure our most vulnerable populations are counted. It can be difficult to know who should be counted in more complex households – especially when child placement is temporary.

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting with the county directors of Ohio’s child welfare agencies by invitation of the Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO). These county organizations are critical partners in a complete 2020 Census count of our children. We must  make sure that they are prepared to offer guidance and conduct outreach to parents, foster parents, and relatives who are caring for children – who are not their own and living with them on a temporary basis.

Some key details to be aware of include who should be counted and where they should be counted and I share a brief overview below. Further, the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio developed a number of resources to for our county agencies and partners to use and adapt to their needs with links at the end of this blog. Please use and share!

Guidelines for counting children

All children should be counted where they live most often. If the child spends an equal amount of time between homes, count the location on April 1. Don’t forget to coordinate with other caregivers. Below are some general guidelines:

  • Kinship care providers: If an individual is raising a relative’s child (such as a grandchild or a niece/nephew), the child should be counted in their household if they live with them full-time even if the situation is temporary. In situations where the child splits time between homes, count the child where they live most often. If the child spends an equal amount of time between homes, count the location on April 1.
  • Foster parents: Even though foster care placements are temporary, if a child is living in a home on April 1, that child should be counted as part of that particular household.
  • Adoptive parent: ALL children should be counted in a home, including the child(ren) who are adopted.

Remember: All census reponses are private. The U.S. Census Bureau does not share information with anyone, including landlords. All individuals are protected by strict laws that include severe penalties and jail time.             

How do you fill out the Census?

Every household will receive mailing in March asking them to fill out the brief Census questionnaire. The letter will provide instructions for the three different options for completing the questionnaire (online, by phone, or by mail).

What’s the timeline for the 2020 Census?

Mid-March: Initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone.

March and April: Reminder letters will be delivered in late March and early April, followed by reminder postcards to households that have not responded. Two final reminders, along with paper questionnaires, will be delivered to in April to remaining households that have not yet responded.

May through July: If a household does not respond to any of the invitations, a census taker will follow up in person. All individuals should complete the 2020 Census right away to avoid having census takers from visiting and encouraging completion. It’s a simple form to complete and should only take 10 minutes. Please contact the census help desk for any questions about the survey and responses.

The Children’s Defense Fund created these two resources that can be used to inform and provide additional information for social service administrators and direct service providers and those working directly with foster parents and kinship care providers to make sure all children are counted:

Do Foster Children Count in the 2020 Census Final 1 Page

Foster Parent Letter Census 3.3.2020