Latino Undercount in 2020 Census Could Cost States Billions in Family Assistance

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An undercount of Latinos in the 2020 Census could cost 37 states hundreds of millions in federal funding.

For example, a Latino undercount could cost Texas up to $14 billion of federal money for housing, child and foster care, and other family aid programs, according to a new brief from Child Trends.

“The impact of any Census undercount will be felt in state budgets and communities throughout the country,” according to the Child Trends report. “At stake is federal funding for programs that help states improve the well-being of their residents, and their children especially.”

Why Is a Latino Undercount Expected?

Historically, the Census has undercounted Latinos.

For the 2020 Census, even without a citizenship question, officials expect a 3% or more undercount of Latinos, according to Child Trends.

Latino children are particularly at risk for being undercounted—36% were undercounted in 2010.

This happens for many reasons, such as underfunded Census outreach and inequitable technology access. But it also stems from language, diversity, and literacy to complex living arrangements, distrust of government, and fear over immigration status.

“People are afraid,” said Marcela Díaz, executive director of Santa Fe-based immigrants’ rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido, according to a staff writer with the Albuquerque Journal.

Why Would a Latino Undercount Cost Latinos?

An undercount in your state during this once-a-decade Census count means less representation on local school boards and in Congress.

It also means less money per year for assistance programs like Medicaid, child and foster care, Section 8 housing, and Head Start. Census data is used to distribute more than $800 billion annual funding to roughly 300 federal assistance programs.

Marcela Diaz, center, director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and others raise their hands in support of a bill that would raise the states minimum wage Eddie MooreAlbuque.jpg
Marcela Diaz, center, director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and others raise their hands in support of a bill that would raise the states minimum wage. Source: Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal

Unfortunately, those most in need of assistance programs are often the most likely to be omitted from the count, thus at risk of not receiving their fair share of government resources.

What Federal Programs Could Face Less Funding?

Child Trend’s new brief examines the potential reduction in funding to states for the following five federal programs that benefit children and families.

  1. Medicaid (children only)
  2. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  3. Title IV-E Foster Care
  4. Title IV-E Adoption Assistance
  5. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)

The authors examined estimates of potential loses for each of the five programs based on three undercount scenarios: a 3% Latino undercount, a 6% undercount, and a 12% undercount.

The following six states would lose the most in annual federal funding for these five programs:

  • Texas (39.6% Latino) could lose $339 million (in a 3% undercount) to $1.4 billion (in a 12% undercount)
  • Florida (26.1% Latino) could lose $139 million to $555 million
  • Arizona (31.6% Latino) could lose $70 million to $279 million
  • Illinois (17.4% Latino) could lose $61 million to $243 million
  • Pennsylvania (7.6% Latino) could lose $55 million to $218 million
  • Colorado (21.7% Latino) could lose $48 million to $193 million
1. A Latino Undercount and Medicaid (Children Only)

Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.

Medicaid (children only) is the largest share of federal funding lost to states. Thirty-seven states could lose $930 million to $3.72 billion for Medicaid (children only).

States that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (e.g., Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina) are among those that will experience the greatest projected reductions in federal funding, according to the brief:

  • Texas could lose $321 million to $1.28 billion;
  • Florida could lose $131 million to $525 million;
  • Georgia could lose $18-$75 million; and
  • North Carolina could lose $26 million to $1 billion.

Find out what your state could lose.

2. A Latino Undercount and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP covers 8.9 million children in working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford or access private coverage.

The next-largest losses in federal funding are associated with CHIP. Thirty-seven states could lose $24 million to $96 million:

  • Texas could lose $9.8-$39.4 million in CHIP;
  • Florida could lose $3.4-$13.6 million;
  • Illinois could lose $1.5-6 million; and
  • Colorado could lose $1.2-$5 million.

Find out what your state could lose.

3. A Latino Undercount and Title IV-E Foster Care

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act supports children in foster care, adoption, and kinship guardianship. Foster Care funds foster care maintenance and payments to foster caregivers to support the daily living costs of eligible children as well as caseworker and agency efforts.

Title IV-E Foster Care accounts for about $8.2-$32.9 million in annual funding losses across 37 states.

These states could lose the most in foster care funds:

  • Colorado could lose $712,470 to $2.8 million;
  • Illinois could lose $744,688 to $2.9 million;
  • Arizona could lose $810,375 to $3.2 million;
  • Florida could lose $1.7-$6.8 million; and
  • Texas could lose $1.4-$5.9 million.

Find out what your state could lose.

4. A Latino Undercount and Title IV-E Adoption Assistance

The Adoption Assistance Program provides funds to States to facilitate the timely placement of children, whose special needs or circumstances would otherwise make it difficult to place, with adoptive families.

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance accounts for about $6.9-$27.9 million in annual funding losses across 37 states.

These states could lose the most for Title IV-E Adoption:

  • Florida could lose $772,986-$3 million annually;
  • Arizona could lose $1.2-$4.8 million; and
  • Texas could lose $1.7-$7.1 million.

Find out what your state could lose.

5. A Latino Undercount and Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG)

The CCDBG provides federal funding to states for child care subsidies for low-income families with children under age 13. These subsidies help remove barriers to affordable, high-quality child care.

CCDBG could lose $12 million to $49 million across 37 states.

These states could lose the most in CCDBG funds:

  • Arizona could lose $648,300 to $2.5 million;
  • Colorado could lose $831,215 to $3.3 million;
  • Illinois could lose $1-$4.3 million;
  • Florida could lose $1.7-$6.8 million; and
  • Texas could lose $4.4-17.9 million.

Find out what your state could lose.

What Should Be Done?

Activists nationwide are working to encourage Latino and all immigrants to participate in Census 2020.

Participation in the census could also prevent cuts for other federal programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers; Head Start; Early Head Start; and the National School Lunch Program.

“[The Census is] certainly important to Latinos and immigrants because there’s so much federal funding tied to it,” Díaz said. “Even the slightest undercount can lead to a shortage with the vital social programs used by so many of the people that contribute to our communities in so many ways.”

Spread the word that not getting counted robs communities of shared tax money.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

28

percent

of Latino kids suffer four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

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