In the 2018 Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book, New Hampshire was ranked as the number one state in child well-being. This is a great accomplishment for New Hampshire, but it highlights the critical need for accurate data in order to best support our children going forward.

We are faced with a challenge in the upcoming 2020 census. According to the Data Book, “The 2010 U.S. Census failed to count almost 1 million children younger than age 5.” Undercounting children in the census has been a concern since 1980, and it is imperative that we solve the problem before the 2020 count.

Undercounting children in New Hampshire and across the U.S. is a problem, because the 2020 census data will be guiding government programs for the next decade. The data gained from this census will affect federal funding allocations, political representation, services and business investment, and further research.

Since many families are hard to reach with traditional census outreach, 9,000 New Hampshire children risk being undercounted in the upcoming 2020 census. With 14 percent of the Granite State’s kids at risk of being undercounted, federally funded supports, like education, Head Start, SNAP, and CHIP, which have helped New Hampshire gain and keep the spot as the number one state to live, work, and raise a family.

Some reasons why kids miss getting counted include:

  • A whole family isn’t counted, because of complex, mobile, or homeless living arrangements or a lack of response.
  • Kids live in a hard-to-count community, for instance a neighborhood where poverty is high and where multi-unit buildings and rental housing are more common.
  • Census response doesn’t record all family members. This problem is possible in a multigenerational household.

The 2020 Census will determine the future of federally-funded programs for the next decade, putting key drivers of child success and well-being at risk if children under 5 are not counted. Accurate data collection is critical for helping New Hampshire make informed policy decisions. Our state and local leaders must come together with all stakeholders to help reach hard-to-count households and ensure our 2020 Census is accurate.

Over $430 million of federal funds were spent on Granite State children for ten large federal programs in FY 2015. Since the brain is built from the bottom up, a child’s early years are critical to his or her long-term success. Both federal and state-funded programs support the well-being of New Hampshire children under five.

It is important that we ensure that New Hampshire gets an accurate count in the 2020 census. This will be the first census to widely use the internet, so helping communities have access to the internet will be important. Making sure that we reach out to communities so they are engaged in the census is also key, and federal funding for the census will be critical.

Data is a valuable tool, and it is vital that we get accurate data in the 2020 census to ensure success for NH children.

Check out the full Data Book here: