Click HERE for full article from the Wall Street Journal…
By Miriam Jordan:
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting a new set of volunteers: kids.
Seeking to ensure strong participation in the decennial population count, especially in so-called hard-to-count neighborhoods, the bureau has decided children are key.
That has led it to settings like Arlene Paynes’s first-grade class at Union Avenue Elementary School in this immigrant enclave on the edge of downtown. Last Thursday, the class gathered to read aloud a story titled “Who Counts?”
They learned about a boy named Joey who helps his grandmother, an Italian immigrant, fill out the Census form that arrives in the mail. The grandmother and grandchild decide that those who “count” in their household are Grandma, Mom, Dad, Joey, little sister Mary — and even Mr. Macintosh, who occupies a spare room “until he finds a job.” The only one who doesn’t count: their cat Clover.
It is always a struggle to get everyone to participate, but the 2010 count is expected to present new challenges. The gloomy economy has forced many people to move or seek temporary residence with friends or family, making them harder to reach. And the U.S. is still absorbing the largest wave of immigrants since the beginning of the 20th century. Many aren’t native English speakers; more than 10 million are here illegally.
The bureau is rolling out initiatives here and in other hard-to-reach tracts. It is running an information campaign in Spanish-language media, sending representatives to operate booths at street fairs and distributing forms in more languages than ever.
Early next year, households nationwide will begin receiving a form with 10 questions. It’s shorter than in the past, according to Census officials, and should take only 10 minutes to complete.
“Making children part of the national conversation,” said Renee Jefferson-Copland, chief of the school program at the Census Bureau, might be one of the most effective tools for reaching many adults.