The Los Angeles County Office of Education announced Monday that it will dedicate $2 million to help historically undercounted communities conduct an accurate 2020 Census.
LACOE said it will partner with more than 960 schools in districts that include Los Angeles, Long Beach, Compton, Glendale, Lynwood, Montebello, Mountain View, Paramount and Pomona, giving each school $2,000 for census outreach to students and families.
"Schools are trusted messengers and play a critical role in ensuring full participation in the census so that California and Los Angeles County get their fair share of federal resources and congressional representation," LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo said. "LA's children and youth have not been accurately counted in the past. This cannot happen again."
LACOE officials said because of the ties the census has to federal funding, an undercount could put districts at risk of losing money for early childhood education, high-poverty area schools, special education, foster care education, child care subsidies for low-income families and various health programs.
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The LACOE money will be used for:
-- training for school administrators and parents on participating in the census and the "safety and confidentiality" of the process;
-- implementing the "Count Me In" curriculum designed to teach students about the census and motivate them to advocate for an accurate count;
-- organizing visual and performing arts contests for students that focus on the census;
-- hosting "Census Action" kiosks in schools to allow the public to complete the census questionnaire in a "trusted environment;" and
-- declaring it Census 2020 Awareness Week on campuses from March 23 to April 9.
In the coming weeks, LACOE said officials will convene with school districts to discuss the countywide effort, which the office will lead through June 2020.
The 2020 Census count begins April 1.
In June of this year, the Los Angeles City Council dedicated $3.9 million to ensure as many residents as possible are counted in the 2020 Census and called on the mayor's census office to outline plans for door-to-door outreach and education efforts in traditionally undercounted areas.
Maria de la Luz Garcia, the mayor's Census program director, said of the 2,513 census "block groups" in Los Angeles, 52.9% have poor census response rates. Most of those census block groups are in East Los Angeles, Harbor/Wilmington, Hollywood/Koreatown, Northeast Los Angeles, Northeast San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles, she said.
Getting an accurate census count has been a concern for local officials for some time ever since President Donald Trump's administration sought to add a citizenship question to the census was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many Los Angeles officials said it would intimidate undocumented immigrants from answering as it could put them at risk of deportation.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would use state driver's license records as part of Trump's executive order on increasing the use of administrative records for the 2020 Census.