The U.S. Census Begins began its in-person count of people living in group quarters Wednesday.
Group Quarters Enumeration is the U.S. Census Bureau’s special set of operations for counting people who live or stay in the estimated 250,000 group quarters facilities, such as correctional facilities for adults, college/university student housing, nursing/skilled nursing facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers, and military barracks, says a news release.
One local location that falls in the group quarters category is the Cal State Bakersfield dorms, and staff members say it’s very important to enumerate the students.
“We talk about issues that are going on and the only way for us to move the needle is representation and it start with the Census,” said Ilaria Pesco, CSUB’s Assistant Vice President of Student Success and Student Affairs and Executive Director, Associated Students Inc. “The best way to have our voices heard is through the Census.”
Pesco was the one who helped enumerate all CSUB students living in the dorms. There are 400 CSUB students who fall in the group quarters category, according to Pesco.
This year was different through. Because of the pandemic, many students returned home before Census Day — April 1. However, the Census Bureau called for the University to count all students who were expected to be living in dorms before the pandemic hit Kern County.
“As of April first, most of our students were not living with us,” said Pesco.
Although CSUs do not directly receive funding from the Census, Pesco said the federal funds from the Census help students by funding social service programs that students can benefit from.
Locally, a few other examples of group quarters include Mesa Verde Detention Facility, Wasco State Prison and Valley Convalescent Hospital.
The Census Bureau works directly with group quarters administrators in responding to the 2020 Census on behalf of residents to ensure a complete and accurate census count.
The 2020 Census offers several response options for people living in group living arrangements, including electronic response options where an administrator fills in data for each person who stayed at the facility on April 1, 2020. Group quarter administrators can also mail a paper listing of census response data for each person being served or staying at their respective facility to their respective area census office or have a census taker pick up the paper listing or drop off paper questionnaires to the facility.
For facilities that elected a non-contact response method, the Census Bureau will conduct in-person interviews to complete their census questionnaire between July 1 and September 3.
Pesco said the process of enumerating the students in the dorms was fairly simple, and if other organizations have difficulty, she said the Bureau will help out.
The Census Bureau continues to coordinate with group quarters administrators to assist in counting people living in group quarter facilities, including contacting group quarters facilities between February 3 and March 6 as part of the Group Quarters Advance Contact Operation. Many group quarters began responding on April 2 through an eResponse option. Facilities that have not responded by early August will be visited by a census taker.
About 35 percent of group quarter administrators have responded to the 2020 Census via eResponse or paper listings.