Children’s Institute is Supporting Critically Important Census Work in 2020

February 7, 2020
Ryan Imondi

Children’s Institute is partnering with the US Census Bureau to ensure everyone in South Los Angeles participates in the official 2020 Census.

CII will be joining 50 groups that are identifying “hard-to-count” populations; historically, residents of low income neighborhoods, specifically children under five, are under-counted.

Ginger Lavender-Wilkerson is the Clinical Program Manager coordinating the census work at CII. She said it is crucial for neighborhoods like Watts to receive an accurate count because the census data will determine how funding is distributed for government-funded services like Medi-Cal, CalFresh and housing assistance.

In the past, for example, the Census didn’t necessarily capture all low income people living in large, multi-unit buildings, particularly those living with non-family members or multiple generations occupying a single unit. With five large housing developments and a median household income of $25,000, Watts is considered one of LA’s most challenging areas ahead of the 2020 Census.

With five large housing developments and a median household income of $25,000 per year, Watts is considered one of LA’s most challenging areas ahead of the 2020 Census.

“This project only happens once every 10 years and serves as the official record of who is counted in the United States.  The results will determine how resources will be allocated and who will receive critically important services,” Lavender-Wilkerson said.

Based out of CII’s Watts Campus, Lavender-Wilkerson heads team that includes Deborah Riddle, Senior Community Affairs Specialist, and Raul Aguirre, Community Affairs Specialist.

“We already provide a number of different services in this area – early childhood education, behavioral health and family supports — so we are uniquely qualified to coordinate outreach efforts,” Riddle said. “We are really focused on making sure kids are counted because one day they may need these services.”

Children's Institute outreach for 2020 Census
Raul Aguirre, Community Affairs Specialist, will handle the face-to-face outreach by relying on contacts he has made through outreach work in and around Watts.

Riddle said CII will lean on its established network in South LA to hold 18 workshops with community members and make 500 attempts to engage residents in areas that are considered hard to count in and around Watts. The CII outreach team will also partner with US Census officials to create a self-service kiosk where residents can get information on how to register.

Aguirre, who works directly with families in Watts, will handle the face-to-face outreach by relying on his contacts living in housing developments. Census work is not new to Aguirre, who worked on Skid Row to count downtown LA’s homeless population for the last Census.

“Making sure census work is done accurately will help more children have access to important programs like Head Start,” he said. “These are the families I support every day, and I know how crucial these services are to their futures.”

CII has already started planning census outreach strategies and will start officially working with the community between February and May of this year.

Upcoming Census Meetings

  • February 21st – 6:30-7:30 pm
    Project Fatherhood Meeting
    Nickerson Gardens, 1590 East 114th Street, Los Angeles, California, 90059
  • March 5th – 8:15-9:00 am
    Florence Griffith Joyner: Neighborhood Schools Civic Engagement Meeting
    1963 E 103rd St, Los Angeles, California, 90002

If you would like more information on CII’s Census outreach, please contact Deborah Riddle, Senior Community Affairs Specialist.