Census 2020: Missouri kids win with a complete count!

by John Shikles, Policy Counsel and Director of Census Operations Office of Governor Michael L. Parson

Counting our young children in the 2020 Census means all Missouri kids win for the next ten years. This is because the federal government will use our count to allocate billions of dollars to our state to support important programs for kids. It is estimated that Missouri receives an additional $1,300 a year for every person counted in the decennial census. This funding goes towards more quality education, child care, health care, and other services that help to ensure the safety, health, and development of our children. When we all respond, Missouri gets more funding for programs like Head Start, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid (MO HealthNet), SNAP (food stamps), WIC, Foster Care, and Special Education.

Believe it or not, a lot of people forget to count the children in their home when they respond to the census. In fact, children under age 5 are one of the largest groups of undercounted people in the United States. Parents, caregivers and other adults with young children in their home often don’t realize they need to include all children who live with them at least most of the time. No young child seems to be immune from the risk of not being counted, but some are at higher risk than others. Children with the highest risk of going uncounted include:

  • Children who split time between two or more homes.
  • Children who are not a biological or adopted child of the householder, including foster children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews and children of friends.
  • Children who are ethnic minorities.
  • Children living in complex households, defined as all households other than nuclear families (example, single-parent families) and single-person households.
  • Children living in transient housing and multiunit structures.
  • Very young children, especially those born during or around the time of the census.

These varied living situations, coupled with the fact that 18 percent of children in the state live in poverty, put Missouri children at a great risk of going uncounted in the 2020 Census.

When responding to the 2020 Census this spring, it is critical that you count all children who live and sleep in your home most of the time.  It is important to count children of all ages and relation, including any nieces, nephews, grandchildren and foster children. Here are some guiding principles to help you count:

  • If a child lives in more than one home, count them if they live and sleep in your home most of the time.
  • If a child truly spends equal amounts of time between two homes, count them where they stay on April 1, 2020.
  • Coordinate with any other caregivers of the child, if possible, to ensure the child is counted.
  • Don’t forget to count your littlest ones. Count your newborn, even if they are still in the hospital. A newborn should be counted if he or she is born on or before April 1, 2020.

Bettering our communities starts with supporting the resources that help build safe, healthy and well-developed children.  You can provide this support by ensuring all of the children in your home are counted in the 2020 Census. Counting your children in the 2020 census will positively affect their future and your community for the next 10 years. When Missouri counts, Missouri kids win.

For more information, visit the Missouri Census 2020 website at

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