Report: Latino Kids are Left Out of Census Count

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Latinos are the nation’s second-largest population group—yet they continue to be dramatically undercounted.

More than 400,000 Latino children younger than 4 were not counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, according to a recent report from the Child Trends Hispanic Institute and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

With the 2020 Census looming, an accurate count of Latinos is critical to ensure they get the right number of representatives in government and a fair share of funding for educational programs, healthcare, and law enforcement, as well as new schools and roads.

The U.S. Census Count

The U.S. Census Bureau counts every resident in the U.S. every 10 years, per Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

The data collected determines the number of representatives each state can have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because representation in Congress is based on population, an accurate count is essential for each state to be fairly represented.

The data collected is also used to distribute billions in federal and state funds.

Because resource allocation at the federal and state level is based on population, an accurate count is essential for equitable distribution of funds, particularly in schools.

Most Undercounting Occurs in Latino-Majority States

Five states account for nearly 75% of the net undercount of Latinos:

  • New York (19.0% Latino)
  • Florida (24.9% Latino)
  • Arizona (30.95 Latino)
  • California (38.9% Latino)
  • Texas (39.1% Latino)

The concentration of undercounting poses a particularly grim threat for Latinos because of the large Latino population in these five states and the large portion of Latino children living in poverty.

Nearly two-thirds of Latino children under the age of five live in or near poverty, compared to 31% of white children, meaning they are even more vulnerable to inequitable distribution of state and federal resources.

Latino Childhood Development at Risk

By the age of five, 90% of a child’s brain is fully developed.

However, Latino families face many barriers to access resources and programs intended to help, like quality early child care.

This undercount of Latino children is a direct threat to fair political representation and will adversely affect the allocation of resources for education and other policy priorities.

Mario Beovides
Director of Impact of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund

Additionally, Latino children living in poverty are disproportionately burdened by adverse childhood experiences, which increases their risk for developing physical, mental, behavioral, psychosocial, and/or cognitive issues.

Federal funding provides for programs like Head Start and Early Head Start, which boosts pre-literacy and improves school readiness and social-emotional skills. Quality early care programs also help children overcome trauma from adverse childhood experiences.

However, lack of equitable funding for quality early care has widened the gap between those who can access early child care centers and those who can’t. For example, 42% of ZIP codes in one study did not have convenient child care centers. Many of these ZIP codes were high poverty areas with large Latino populations.

Undercounting Latino kids in the U.S. census will further widen gaps in access to quality resources for Latino families to grow and thrive.

The 2020 Census in Jeopardy

2020 Census count campaign NALEOThe 2020 Census is a chance to make strides toward a more accurate and detailed count, but it is already facing some tough obstacles, according to the new report.

“The Census Bureau currently does not have enough funding to properly conduct its work in 2020, and has made major cuts which will make counting ‘hard to count’ communities like Latinos even more difficult,” said Mario Beovides, director of Impact of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund.

Download state fact sheets below to learn how much funding is directed to each state by the Census Bureau, as well as the Federal Census-directed programs that are particularly important to each state:

  • New York ($53.1 billion)
    • Improvement and Expansion of Transit Infrastructure
    • Nutrition Assistance for Vulnerable Families
    • Early Childhood Education
  • Florida ($29.2 billion) 
    • Education of English Language Learners Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
    • Water Pollution Control
    • Development of Public Housing
  • Arizona (13.5 billion)
    • Rural Utilities and Telecommunications
    • Veterans Employement
    • Funding for County Governments
  • California ($76.6 billion)
    • The Federal-Aid Highway Program
    • Education of English Language Learners Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
    • State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Texas ($43.3 billion)
    • The Federal-Aid Highway Program
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Substance Abuse Treatment

Learn more about the 2020 Census count and spread the word to raise awareness about the importance of obtaining accurate data to the guide distribution of billions of dollars to communities where those resources are most needed.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

40

percent

of Latino kids participate in preschool programs vs. 53% of white kids.

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