Lincoln Public Schools help to ensure every child is counted in the upcoming census

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public Schools rely on federal funding to help educate more than 40,000 Lincoln students, and if some of those students aren't counted in the upcoming census, that funding could go down.

It's why the district is working hard to help ensure every student is accounted for.

"When we have kids that are not counted, it impacts the federal funding we receive," said Walter Powell, LPS Equity, Diversity and Multicultural Administrator.

While the federal funding accounts for less than 10 percent of the overall budget, Powell said it's critical.

"It's a shortfall we wouldn't be able to overcome," Powell said.

According to census.gov, in the 2010 Census, nearly one million kids under five-years-old went uncounted.

This doesn't only impact LPS, but several federally funded programs like nutritional benefits, health insurance, early childhood education and more are impacted when census counts aren't accurate.

Powell said LPS has been meeting to strategize since March of last year, and are participating in a city and county-wide committee called Complete Count targeted at finding ways to identify and count hard-to-reach populations.

"Individuals like immigrants, individuals who have no fluent English speakers in their homes, individuals who do not trust the government and individuals who are homeless," Powell said.

To help reach these people, they're starting with the students.

Teachers are adding a census-related curriculum to their schedules and high school students have volunteered to help educate their communities.

"In some cases that student may be the only English speaker in their households," Powell said. "They have to convey the importance of the census to other family members."

They're also going directly to parents at events like parent-teacher conferences.

According to census.gov, kids should be counted if they live and sleep at a home most of the time.

A newborn should be counted if they were born on or before April 1, 2020.

Powell wants parents to know that census data is kept confidential for 72 years and isn't shared with agencies like ICE or law enforcement.

The first round of Census invitations will go out in the mail in less than a month.