TOMS RIVER – Ocean County is making sure that everyone has the chance to participate in the 2020 Census. Ocean County will hold a Census Complete Count Committee kickoff at the Ocean County Library main branch, located on Washington Street, at 10 a.m. on Aug. 7.
“Participation is critical,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who is leading the County’s 2020 Census Count efforts. “The results of the Census determine how Congress is apportioned and how federal and state funding is distributed. These two factors are key in us obtaining our fair share of funding for vital programs and services.”
The Census Complete Count Committee kickoff will include presentations by Partnership Specialists from the US Census Bureau and the State Complete Count Commission.
The Committee was established on March 6 by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders to bring together partners with local knowledge and resources, to raise awareness and educate residents on the importance of the Census, and to promote the census through locally based, targeted outreach efforts, according to officials.
The Complete Count Committee consists of representatives from Ocean County Government Departments, municipalities, non-profits and service organizations, community leaders, faith-based groups, schools, businesses, media outlets and others.
“Getting the word out is imperative to a successful Census count in 2020,” Vicari said. “I appreciate the efforts of all those people who want to be a part of the Complete Count Committee. The more outreach we can do, the more groups we can inform, the better our outcome will be.”
According to Vicari, the 2020 Census will be historically different.
“This year, for the first time, about 80 percent of households will receive a postcard instead of a paper questionnaire, directing them to complete the form online,” Vicari said. “Because of this change, the work of the Ocean County Complete Count Committee and municipal complete count committees is even more important.
“The outreach, assistance and information we provide to our residents will be key to them following through and completing the census questionnaire,” he said.
The 2020 Census will be held on National Census Day: April 1, 2020. In an effort to count every person living in the US, the census is taken every 10 years beginning back in 1790.
Census data directly affects how more than $22.7 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to New Jersey and its counties, municipalities and communities for many essential programs and services.
“This equates to about $2,548 per New Jersey resident for important infrastructure improvements, senior services, public health, education, transportation, including block grant programs, such as Superstorm Sandy Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grants,” Vicari said. “Better participation means more funding.”
Census population data also determines congressional representation. New Jersey lost a congressional seat after each of the last two census counts.
“We want to encourage all of our residents to complete the census questionnaire as it cannot be used for any purpose or shared with any other institutions or agencies,” Vicari said.
It is important to note that Ocean County has a unique factor: snowbirds, otherwise known as those that spend winters elsewhere but live in the County.
“The guiding principal for the Census is “usual residence” which is defined as the place where the person lives and sleeps most of the time,” Vicari said. “So with more than 170,000 seniors living in Ocean County, it is important our snowbirds who live in Ocean County most of the year are counted.”
Census 2010 and its efforts resulted in a participation rate of 78 percent.
“Ocean County was recognized by the Census Bureau in a thank you ceremony as going above and beyond,” Vicari said. “In 2020, I predict we will do even better.”