As the Census 2020 deadlines approach during a national season of isolation, social work students are shifting gears to help reach traditionally undercounted populations.
Past census counts in Abilene have shorted groups like African-Americans, Latinx, homeless, undocumented and children under the age of five.
This year Social Work students from Abilene Christian University are partnering with the local Complete Count Committee and the Hispanic Leadership Council this year to improve counting in those communities. The students are bringing extra hands into targeted neighborhoods, and they’re training community members to join the effort.
According to Assistant Professor and Director of the Masters of Social Work program Malcolm Scott, student interns are able to articulate the importance of being counted to their clients. “What it means for representation," Scott says. "Not only for Congress, but in tangible resources and real dollars. So our communities are resourced enough to serve the most vulnerable."
Even though local universities have moved to online learning for this semester, Scott says the students are still helping. They’ve shifted their focus to sending out emails and letters or posting informational flyers in agency offices that provide social work services.
Based on national Census self-reporting statistics, Taylor county has 32 percent participation, which is slightly higher than the state of Texas response, but about 4 points lower than the national response rate. All households will receive a Census invitation by April 1st. According to the U.S. Census Bureau all in-person operations will be postponed until April 15th or longer in order to protect the health of those going through the hiring process, as well as the general public.