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ZERO TO THREE Deeply Disappointed in SCOTUS Decision to End 2020 Census

Organization urges Congress to act and ensure full, fair Census count

WASHINGTON – Following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Trump Administration to end the 2020 Census ahead of schedule, ZERO TO THREE expressed grave concern that families across the nation will be harmed by the ruling. The leading early childhood nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies have a strong start in life warned that the impact of the decision will be long-reaching and long-lasting. ZERO TO THREE called on Congress to take swift action and pass the bipartisan 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, which would extend the Census timeline for data collection through October 31, 2020 and delay the delivery of apportionment data to April 30, 2021 to ensure a more accurate count of our nation’s population.

ZERO TO THREE Chief Policy Officer Myra Jones-Taylor stated:

“A worldwide pandemic is no time to play politics with the future of our babies and toddlers. We are deeply disappointed not only with this decision by the Supreme Court, but also with the Administration’s determination to speed through the Census as quickly as possible. This once-a-decade process has incredible importance to our youngest and most in need populations, and by ending the process early, there will be grave consequences for years to come. The Census has historically been a landmark example of non-partisanship in the federal government, but it has now been tainted by partisan politics and our babies will be the ones to suffer. We call on Congress to act swiftly and enact bipartisan legislation to extend the deadlines for both data collection and for the delivery of apportionment data to ensure an accurate count of our nation’s population. Our babies are counting on it.”

The decision to cut the period of data collection short will almost certainly lead to overlooking and undercounting young children, which will have serious consequences not only for the next decade, but for a lifetime. The population most likely to be missed in the Census is the same group of children most likely to live in poverty, experience homelessness, and live in stress. In 2010, a Census facing far fewer challenges missed approximately 2.2 million children under 5. It also undercounted Black children under 5 at a rate of 6.3% and Hispanic children at a rate of 7.5% – more than double that of non-Hispanic white children. It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of children under 5 live in hard-to-count areas, perpetuating the difficulty of obtaining an accurate count. By stopping the Census early, the Administration is marking these children and their needs as irrelevant.

With roughly 300 federal programs using Census data to allocate more than $800 billion each year, inaccurate data could result in a decade or more of inadequate funding for key programs serving babies and their families across the nation. The first three years of life are crucial for an infant’s development, and babies who miss out on those services will not get those years back. Census data determines how funding is distributed to states for critical services that shape children’s development and later success through:

  • Health insurance programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • Education programs including Title I funding to schools with under-resourced children, IDEA special education funding for children with disabilities, and early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays;
  • Foster care and other child welfare programs; and
  • Child care support through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Early Head Start.

ZERO TO THREE urges Congress to pass bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) that would extend key deadlines for the 2020 Census by four months and require the Census Bureau to continue field operations through the agreed upon end date of October 31, 2020. The bill would extend the deadline for the delivery of apportionment data to the U.S. House of Representatives from December 31, 2020 to April 30, 2021, and extend the statutory delivery of redistricting data to the states from March 31, 2021 to July 31, 2021.

ZERO TO THREE is a leading member of the Count All Kids Committee, a group of national, state, and local children’s organizations and allies that have joined together to ensure our nation’s children are counted in the 2020 Census.

Learn more about the impact of the Census on infants, toddlers, and their families.

Learn more about ZERO TO THREE’s work to ensure a full and fair Census.


ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit zerotothree.orgfacebook.com/zerotothree, or follow @zerotothree on Twitter.

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