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New KIDS COUNT report: Undercount in the 2020 Census threatens hard-won progress for NC children and their families

[1][Editor’s note: Researchers at the North Carolina nonprofit NC Child [2] co-released the 2018 KIDS COUNT report last week. The KIDS COUNT report is a “must read” for anyone who seeks to understand the reality that confronts children – especially children in need – in North Carolina. If you haven’t done so already, we urge you to read and share the report and its findings.]  

The KIDS COUNT Data Book, released on June 28 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows that a stronger economy is producing better outcomes for parents and their kids. Federally-funded supports such as SNAP, Head Start, CHIP, and school lunches are helping drive child success. But those positive outcomes are in jeopardy as 73,000 North Carolina children are at risk of not being counted in the upcoming 2020 census.

The economic recovery has not made its way to areas of concentrated poverty where North Carolina children are at highest risk of negative outcomes, from poorer health to lower graduation rates. Unfortunately, it is precisely these areas that stand to lose the most in the event of a census undercount. The percentage of North Carolina children living in poverty has dropped from a high of 26 percent in 2011 to 22 percent in 2016, according to the Data Book. Nonetheless, in 2016, 13 percent of kids lived in a high-poverty neighborhood, a slight increase since 2012.

The upcoming 2020 Census is a critical tool for ensuring accurate allocation of infrastructure and funding.  The potential undercount of young children, particularly children of color, could threaten hundreds of millions in federal funding for children’s health, education, and safety.

In North Carolina, the undercount of children in the 2000 census led to inadequate funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As a result, eligible children were put on a waiting list and went uninsured until additional funding was secured.

Several factors affect the accuracy of the census count. NC Child offers the following recommendations to achieve a full count of North Carolina children:

How to get the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book

The 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available at www.aecf.org/databook [4], which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org [5].

Rob Thompson is the Deputy Director of NC Child [2].