This year has been filled with a multitude of momentous events and promises still more. However, 2020 Is significant for another reason - it is a Census year. Although this may seem less dramatic than many of today's headlines it is no less important. The Census count affects government funding levels for each region. It also determines how Congressional districts are drawn as well as how many members of Congress each state has. The numbers are used to determine needs for educational, housing, healthcare resources, and more.
Unfortunately, many of our students belong to populations that are described as "hard to count". According to the Census Bureau, the 2010 Census under-counted the African-American population by more than 800,000, and roughly one in three Hispanic people lives in a "hard to count" census tract. Poverty, housing insecurity, and language barriers are all factors that make a specific population "hard to count".
Here are five resources to help students understand and participate in Census 2020:
The Census Counts
The Census Counts campaign is a partnership of community-based advocacy organizations that have partnered to help these "hard to count" populations to participate in Census 2020. Their excellent website serves as a great resource for this effort. The site includes a wide collection of informational resources and outreach tools which can help motivate a fuller level of Census participation.
Interview outlining Census Efforts During COVID
The Deputy Chief of Staff at New Jersey's Department of State, Lauren Zyriek Enriques, is interviewed by Univision's WUVP-DT, She outlines the timeline for Census efforts during the COVID crisis, explains safeguards put in place to protect undocumented residents, and gives information on how to avoid Census-related fraud. The interview is entirely in Spanish.
Thankfully, the U.S. Census Bureau has upped their game as well. For those with a connection to the internet, filling out the Census is easier than ever before. A resident can complete the Census form at this site and can choose from a variety of languages.
Video Guides on How to Complete the Census
While completing the form online is convenient, it can be intimidating if one has never done it before and is unsure of what is coming. Again the U.S. Census Bureau has provided an excellent resource by posting video guides on how to complete the Census form. These guides come in a multitude of languages including American Sign Language.
One-on-One Help by Telephone
Not everyone has access to the internet and some are uncomfortable using it. If a person needs one-on-one assistance, the U.S. Census Bureau has provided assistants who can be contacted by phone. Phone assistance can be obtained in a many languages. This document provides the telephone numbers and can easily be posted or handed out by adult education providers. Operators are standing by!
We hope you will find these resources helpful.
New Jersey's COVID-19 crisis has had tremendous, negative economic effects on so many in our community. To compound the situation, these effects heavily reinforce the inequities that already exist in our communities - inequities many of our students are already overly familiar with.
Here are five resources that can help students deal with financial challenges in these difficult times:
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development Worker Benefits
Not only does this pandemic threaten our health and the health of our loved ones, it also disrupts many of the finely balanced plans that allow our work lives to coexist with our family lives. Fortunately, the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development recognizes this and has created a single-page chart that clearly outlines under what conditions worker benefits are available during the COVID-19 disruption. The chart is also available in Spanish.
NJ Department of Community Affairs Short-Term Rental Assistance Program
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is launching the COVID-19 Short Term Rental Assistance Program which will provide temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate- income households that have had a substantial reduction in income or have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will offer an initial three months of temporary rental assistance, with the option for renewal for an additional three months if needed. Approximately 20 percent of the rental assistance funds will be reserved for homeless families impacted by COVID-19. Further information on how to apply and Frequently Asked Questions, will be available on June 15th.
Worker Benefits, Protections and the Coronavirus
The pandemic has pushed New Jersey's unemployment claims to record highs. In response, the Department of Labor has constructed a web-page devoted to addressing the needs of those whose employment has been negatively affected by COVID-19. The site outlines many of the complicated situations a worker may find him or herself in, and lays out the worker's rights and options. Resources are available in a wide selection of languages.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey
Hunger is much more common in New Jersey than any of us would like to admit. Almost 900,000 New Jersey residents are challenged by food issues and over 260,000 of them are children. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the state's largest anti-hunger organization working with volunteers and partners to assist those in need. Information on how to access the assistance they provide can be found on their website.
NJ Division of Family Development SNAP and WFNJ Updates
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, New Jersey has suspended many of the hurdles that might inhibit residents who participate in the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) from getting all of the assistance they need. The DFD has provided updates to these programs in a clear and conveniently accessed web-page. By using the drop down menu on the page's banner, interested individuals can access the information in their own language.
We hope you will find these resources helpful.