Naperville, Ill. aiming for 85 percent Census 2020 returns

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Naperville, Illinois’ Complete Count Committee having its 3rd panel discussion on steps to increase Census 2020 returns. (Photo: courtesy Naperville CCC via Ashfaq Syed)

The 2020 Census Naperville Complete Count Committee (CCC) held its 3rd panel discussion Aug. 27, to assess gains and push ahead on its achievements in outreach to communities for getting the highest returns in the country.

The Facebook meeting brought together representatives from local, county, and state levels of government, U.S. Census Bureau officials, and Naperville Area  community organizations, each providing updates on their goals in the final weeks of the 2020 Census ending Sept. 30. The discussion was moderated by Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, and Mark R. Rice, Naperville liaison, CCC, 2020 US Census,

Rice thanked Ashfaq Syed, member of CCC and the Naperville Public Library Board of Trustees for his work on the committee and developing the CCC Facebook page. “Naperville will be able to surpass a staggering 85% self-response rate, by the end of September, thereby retaining its top response rate for U.S. cities with a population of at least 140,000,” Rice noted.

Mayor Chirico, in his opening remarks, said, “Naperville’s level of federal funding is highly dependent upon our population. There is so much at stake with this Census. Therefore, I ask everyone to fill out their census information well before September 30.” Chirico added the federal funding would be instrumental in giving a boost to the development trajectory of Naperville.

The speakers also included Natasha Grover, board member of Indian Prairie School District 204. “Our organization has contributed to creating wider awareness about Census 2020 by placing relevant information about the Census on their district website, including the websites of each of their 33 schools, Wheatland Academy, Twitter feed, etc.,” Grover noted.

Saily Joshi, Chairperson, Indian Prairie School District 204 – Parent Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC) said the Census affects their ability to offer services to support each student during their education. “At PDAC, we developed a social media campaign on our Face-book page to educate our parents.  Our goal is to make sure each family in District 204 is counted,” she added.

Chicago Regional Director, US Census Bureau Marilyn Sanders, every person including children aged 0-5, seniors, immigrants, college students and people experiencing homelessness have to be counted. As of now, she noted, Illinois has a 16.5% non-response follow up completion rate, and Census takers are using innovative methods to reach these households, going in-person, or pressing for online completion (2020census.gov), using the phone (844-330-2020) and mail.

Illinois State Representative Anne Stava-Murray from the 81st District said the Census would be greatly instrumental in understanding the unique profile of different segments of the population of a district.

Robert B. Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney reiterated what officials and activists have been impressing on immigrants around the country – that filling Census forms was crucial to getting access to a fair share of an estimated $880 billion in federal tax dollars.

Berlin emphasized people should not be fearful of filling out the form as the Census Bureau cannot disclose individual data or personal responses, for any purpose.

Judith Brodhead, Naperville City Councilwoman and Professor at North Central College said, “Census data helps us to see how our communities are aging or getting younger, how many people typically gather together to live in households or live alone, and how our ethnic demographics are shifting.”

Dave Della Terza, executive director, Naperville Public Library pointed out that for every additional person counted in Naperville, the library receives money to help fund its services. His library had taken proactive steps to reach out to the community, he said.

Janet Derrick, VP Cares Program, Loaves and Fishes Community Services, said that their organization has developed a media plan to promote Census 2020 among all their constituents,  advised individuals calling for assistance in completing the Census, and provided computers to their clients to complete the Census questionnaires online.

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