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Wisconsin group fears Census miscount could cut funding

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A child advocacy organization is concerned that a projected undercount of children in Wisconsin during the 2020 census could threaten the amount of aid the state receives.

Kids Forward Executive Director Ken Taylor told Wisconsin Public Radio that young kids and kids of color are most likely to be undercounted or missed.

"That has significant negative repercussions for us as a state and for our state budget," Taylor said.

The U.S. Census Bureau said its data helps determine the disbursement of $675 billion in federal funds annually.

Wisconsin receives about $9 billion of those funds, which are primarily focused on health, foster care and child care, Taylor said.

A George Washington University found that the state loses about $1,500 for every person not counted.

The U.S. Census Bureau said some groups are historically undercounted, such as renters, non-English speakers, children, those with a low income and those who move more frequently. People can be missed if they live in areas that are harder to count, such as multi-unit buildings, or if there's a language barrier that confuses people, said Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin.

Rural areas can also be a challenge for the bureau because of a lack of internet access. The bureau said households without internet access will be provided a paper questionnaire. The bureau also plans to follow up with households that don't respond through a census enumerator.

"For the 2020 census, we are looking to hire 1,000 partnership specialists at the local level," the bureau said in a statement. "These partnership staff are hired locally to engage with the communities we are working to reach, especially the hard-to-count population."

Surveys come in 13 languages online and can also be taken over the phone.

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