National Human Services Assembly

2020 Census

2020 Census

The organizations that comprise the human services sector share a common mission: to help everyone reach their full potential and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.  Over 300 programs that help lay the foundation for strong communities rely on accurate census data for funding. An inaccurate census count threatens well-being by compromising funding for federal programs, including many critical human services. A precise census also safeguards fair representation. The census determines how residents are represented in federal, state, and local legislative bodies by apportioning congressional seats, Electoral College votes, and drawing state and local legislative districts. An inaccurate census leads to disproportionate constituent representation at all levels of government. The National Assembly advocates for policies that ensure a complete and accurate census count, including additional funding for the Census Bureau for additional testing and efforts to count Hard to Count populations and the restriction of untested operational design features.

Citizenship Question

On March 26th, 2018 the Administration announced that the 2020 Census would ask every household in the country to record which members of their family are US citizens, a question that hasn’t been included on the census since 1950. Civil rights groups, experts who advise the Census Bureau, and former Census Bureau directors stated that the question would jeopardize an accurate head count because many non-citizens fear that the government would use their status in harmful ways. The addition of the citizenship question incited legal challenges, legislation, and requests for multiple congressional hearings on the issue. Additionally, six former Census Bureau directors publicly opposed the untested citizenship question on the grounds that, traditionally, there is a multi-year process to refine and thoroughly test all new questions.

In July, 2019, The Supreme Court blocked the administration’s efforts to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. For more, check out this update on our blog.


The decennial census is a massive effort to count all residents living in the United States. To conduct the testing and research required to ensure the accuracy of such a tremendous undertaking, the Census Bureau must be sufficiently funded. Although the census received more money than what was expected in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, that amount was still not enough to conduct a fair and accurate survey.

Funding in the later years of this decade lagged behind those of 2010 and 2000. The National Assembly supports additional funding for FY 2020.

LGBTQ+ Inclusion

The 2020 Census will have a question asking couples whether they are in a same-sex relationship or an opposite-sex relationship. This thoughtful inclusion of LGBTQ+ couples is admirable. However, it still leaves room for undercounting single members of the LGBTQ+ community. The census has also been criticized because there is currently no option to distinguish transgender, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and non-binary respondents.

The Census Bureau is seeking partners to promote the census and ensure a complete and accurate count in 2020. We encourage your organization to join as a partner.

Follow our public policy blog for updates.

National Reframing Initiative

Build public support for human services so that all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to thriving communities.

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