Alabama has a lot at stake in the 2020 U.S. Census — from a seat in the U.S. House of Representative to a vote in the Electoral College, as well as federal funds — depending on participation levels and what the results indicate.
Which is why Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday joined hundreds of children ranging in age from infants through 12-grade students as they rallied on the South Lawn of the Alabama State Capitol Building on Tuesday to encourage state leaders to prioritize the well-being of Alabama’s children by counting all kids in the state’s 2020 census. Parents, pediatricians and other advocates for children also participated.
Rallygoers warned if Alabama does not accurately record the number of individuals living here, the state could miss out on tens-of-millions of dollars in federal aid needed to adequately support programs for children and families.
In 2010, Alabama only accounted for 72 percent of its estimated population. As a result, advocates noted that the state received far less in federal assistance than it needed due to the low count. To ensure the state gets its fair share of moving forward, participants called on state lawmakers to appropriate the funding and resources needed to guarantee an accurate and complete count in the 2020 census.
“The vision of Alabama’s youngest citizens is ultimately what will drive our state and nation forward. Whatever our students dream to do, we must provide them the tools to be successful,” Ivey said at the rally. “As part of Child Advocacy Day this year, I was proud to remind citizens across the state that we have an opportunity to protect very important education dollars by participating in the 2020 Census. The kids must count today in order for Alabama to count tomorrow. To invest in our future, we must first invest in education.”
Ivey was joined by Del Marsh, the President Pro Tempore of the Alabama State Senate; Mac McCutcheon, the Speaker of the Alabama State House of Representatives; and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.
VOICES for Alabama’s Children
VOICES for Alabama’s Children convened Tuesday’s rally as part of its annual Kids Count Advocacy Day activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics – Alabama Chapter, Alabama PTA and Children’s of Alabama joined VOICES as co-hosts and organizers.
“Alabama is leaving federal aid on the table because of a low count in the 2010 census,” said Stephen Woerner, the executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children. “The failure to count all of our residents, including our children, makes paying for the services the state provides to address the health, safety, education, and overall quality of life for children very difficult. We owe it to our children to make sure all are counted.”
The Alabama Kids Count Rally was part of a full day of activities organized by VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Immediately before the rally, VOICES hosted a forum for advocates from across the state to discuss their legislative priorities. Throughout the day, advocates visited with lawmakers to address their concerns regarding the census and other issues facing children.
“The data provided by the census is incredibly important for decision makers at the state, county, and local level,” Woerner said. “VOICES believes that what gets measured, gets changed, and the better data we collect the more impactful the decisions our leaders can make for our children.”