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Teachers help ensure all students are counted in the U.S. Census Bureau

Undercounting children could affect funding awarded to school districts
Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 17:49:38-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 2020 Census will begin next month, and two teachers unions in Western New York are taking steps to ensure every New Yorker is counted.

They said they're especially focused on children because the census affects how much federal funding their schools get.

"In 2010, the Census gave over $73 billion in federal money to New York state. That's under counting by about 25 percent- that means that we left over $20 billion dollars on the table that could have come to New York," said Joe Cantafio, who is president of the West Seneca Teacher's Association and a board member with New York State United Teachers.

The NYSUT launched a big campaign this week to educate students about the importance of being counted.

And here's why: federal money funds Title I programs - which fund schools with high percentages of low income students. It also funds free and reduced meals.

In 2010, 76 percent of households in New York responded to the census. Cantafio said if we get that response rate to 95 percent, the state would have more than $92 billion in funding.

He said if the response rate in Western New York goes up to 95 percent, our area could get $764 million in funding.

"People I don't think realize the importance of being counted. So it is not on their priority list because I don't think that they realize how much federal dollars that means for us here in Western New York and across the state."

A few key points to remember about responding to the census: the state could lose federal dollars, congressional seats and electoral college delegates.

According to New York United Teachers, sharing census data with other federal agencies is illegal. And Cantafio said immigrant children even homeless children need to be counted.

Between March 12 and March 20, households will receive official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census.

You can respond online, by phone or by mail.