Counting the Filipino American Community: Questions Answered About the 2010 Census

KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress launched an online resource, complete with comedy from Touchblue and a t-shirt giveaway, at http://DoYouCount.org to help address concerns in the Filipino American community about the 2010 Census and encourage families to participate and be counted.

According to the Asian and Pacific Islander 2010 Census Network, communities of color are disproportionally undercounted in the United States Census. Some of the factors that contribute to this discrepancy are a general misunderstanding of the importance of the census and fear that the census may be used against them to jeopardize employment or immigration status.

KAYA is encouraging the Filipino American community to participate in the Census because Census data are used to plan for vital services such as employment training centers, schools, hospitals, senior programs, and many more services vital to each community. Each question in the Census helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country. However, during the 2000 Census, the Asian Pacific Islander population lost $2.1 billion in federal funding for important community programs in California alone just from being undercounted.

April 1 was National Census Day, the deadline for mailing back the official 2010 Census form. But there’s still time to be counted. From April through July, census takers will visit households who did not return a form by mail and assist people and famillies with filling out the form.

Here are some answers to common concerns about the Census:

Why should I take the time to complete the Census form?
Being counted will help you and your community. Census information is used to plan for employment training centers, schools, hospitals, senior programs, and many more important services in your community. Census data helps determine which leaders will represent your community and will also determine how much money (government funding) your community gets for these important social services.

Why does the Census ask for my name and phone number? Is it really safe to participate in the census?
Yes, it is safe. Names are needed if the census was returned incomplete and additional information about an individual must be obtained to complete the census. Phone numbers are needed in case the Census Bureau needs to contact the respondent when a form is returned with incomplete or missing information. Federal law protects the confidentiality of personal information, including names. Every census worker swears an oath to keep your information confidential and any census worker who violates that confidentiality can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined $250,000.

Why does the census ask for my date of birth and race?
Federal, state and local governments need to know the ages of people in given community to help estimate the number of people eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits and help plan and evaluate special programs that provide funds and services for kids, working-age adults, young women and the elderly. The Census asks for information about race to get a better picture of the racial demographic of an area and monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws, monitor racial disparities in health and education to plan how to improve them, and help plan and administer bilingual programs.

How long does it take to fill out the Census form?
It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and asks only 10 simple questions. And it comes with a postage-paid envelope so it’s free to mail back. If you missed the April 1, 2010 deadline to mail back the form, a census worker will visit your household and help you fill out the form.

What if I need help filling out the form?
Visit the “Need Help?” section at DoYouCount.org for a list of Questionnaire Assistance Sites or a Be Counted Site in your area to receive assistance.  DoYouCount.org also has a Language Assistance Guide in Tagalog and Cebuano which translates the questions in the form.

Visit http://www.doyoucount.org for further help on filling out the Census form and for a chance to get a free limited-edition KAYA T-shirt.

KAYA is a progressive grassroots organization previously known as Filipinos for Obama. During the Obama campaign, KAYA volunteers successfully reached out to thousands of voters and helped to deliver key votes in California, Nevada and many other states. Today, KAYA focuses on electoral mobilization, policy advocacy, and leadership development through internship and mentorship programs. KAYA believes in the power of civic engagement and volunteerism. Find out more at http://www.kayagrassroots.org.

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