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NC Children Count on Census Count, Advocates Say

An estimated 25,000 children weren't counted in North Carolina in 2010, and 39 state groups want to make sure the 2020 Census is properly funding to prevent an undercount from happening again. (roberto volterra/flickr)
An estimated 25,000 children weren't counted in North Carolina in 2010, and 39 state groups want to make sure the 2020 Census is properly funding to prevent an undercount from happening again. (roberto volterra/flickr)
September 22, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. - Future funding for North Carolina's children largely depends on the 2020 census, so this week 39 organizations sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation urging lawmakers to take steps now for a complete and accurate count.

What's at stake? Block grants that provide funding for early-childhood education, child care and health services are decided by the outcome of the count, and the Census Bureau estimates that 25,000 children in North Carolina weren't counted in 2010.

"If you don't get the count right, or if the count is not as accurate as it can be, you wind up taking resources away from communities that can use them, typically to help serve some of the needs of some of the most vulnerable citizens out there," said John Quinterno, a principal at the research firm South By North Strategies Ltd.

The census count impacts the allocation of more than $16 billion for the Tar Heel State. Currently, the budget proposed by the Trump administration is $300-million short of adequately funding census efforts. Census counts also impact how districts are drawn.

"All children deserve the opportunity to meet their full potential," said Greg Borom, director of advocacy for Children First, which serves children in western North Carolina who are directly affected by the funds available in the block grants. "If we're going to make those opportunities come to fruition, first we need to know how many children out there are in communities and how to reach them."

Abby Hamrick with NC Child, one of the groups that signed the letter to North Carolina's congressional delegation, said the irony is that it's often the children living in the communities impacted by federal funding who are not counted.

"We know Census undercounts happen in underserved and marginalized communities," she said, "and those are the kids that benefit from these federal dollars and federal resources the most, and they're the very children that aren't being counted."

Nationwide, the Census Bureau has estimated that more than 6 million people weren't counted, with a majority of those people being minorities, children and low-income individuals.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC