2020 is a census year. In order to help our members ensure that the older adults they serve are counted in the 2020 Census, we have compiled some Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Census?

Census is a head count. The 2020 Census will count every person living in the United States on April 1, 2020. The census is mandated by the constitution and has been collected every 10 years since 1790.

Why is it important (and why does LeadingAge care)?

The census tells us about our population. The data collected from the census is used in a number of ways. For example, the census helps determine how many representatives each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. It tells our representatives how many older adults we have in the U.S., where they dwell, and what those neighborhoods look like so that Congress and the administration can enact policies to make America a better place to age.

The census helps guide the allocation of federal funds. It helps channel funding to the hospitals where our older adults receive treatment and to the fire departments and EMTs that respond to emergencies in our buildings. It helps fund the roads traveled by spouses, adult children, and grandchildren coming to visit their loved ones in our communities. It helps our government see why funding for senior housing is so important. It even helps our government make decisions about homeless shelters so that our home health and hospice workers can continue to provide services to older adults wherever they call home.

If all of that is not incentive enough, also know that census participation is required by law.

How will the older adults that I serve be counted?

The way an individual is counted depends on where they are living or staying. Individuals living or staying in their own homes in the community, a senior housing building, an assisted living, or the independent living section of a Life Plan Community are all considered “housing” and will be counted individually.

Residents living or staying in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and inpatient hospices are counted as group quarters and will be counted together.

Remember that the 2020 Census is head-in-bed: Where is this person living or staying on April 1, 2020?

What is Group Quarters Advance Contact?

To ensure group quarters are counted as accurately as possible, the Census Bureau will conduct a process called Group Quarters Advance Contact. Advance Contact takes place in 3 phases:

  • Phase I: The Census Bureau mailed a letter on January 14, 2020 to each place they had on record from the last census as group quarters. The letter explained the steps in the Group Quarters Enumeration process and notified the group quarters that a Census Bureau representative would be calling or visiting in the future.
  • Phase II: Beginning February 3 – March 6, 2020, Census Bureau representatives will begin calling the phone numbers they have on file for the various group quarters. When they call, they will ask to speak with someone knowledgeable who can serve as the group quarters administrator. This may or may not be the person who holds the title “Administrator” in your building—you choose who will be the Census Bureau’s contact for the group quarters enumeration. During this 15-minute call, the Census Bureau representative will gather some preliminary information about your facility and make an appointment for enumeration, when they will collect the actual Census 2020 information.
  • Phase III: Beginning February 21 – March 6, 2020, Census Bureau representatives will make personal visits to group quarters with whom they were unable to establish contact during Phase II or who were unable to complete the phone interview.

What information is collected during Group Quarters Advance Contact?

Census Bureau representatives will:

  • Verify group quarters name, address, contact name, phone number, maximum population, and group quarters type code.
  • Collect an expected Census Day population count.
  • Inform the administrator about enumeration options and determine the preferred method of enumeration.
  • Schedule an appointment date and time for enumeration.

What are my options for Group Quarters enumeration methods?

Group quarters enumeration can be conducted by:

  • eResponse: The group quarters administrator completes and submits census response data to the Census Bureau electronically.
  • Paper Response: A census worker meets with the administrator to obtain a paper listing of census response data for each person who is living or staying in the group quarters on April 1, 2020.
  • In-person interview: A census worker will conduct face-to-face interviews with each person living or staying in your group quarters on April 1, 2020.
  • Drop-off/Pick-up Questionnaire: A census worker drops off questionnaires to be completed by or for each person staying or living in your group quarters on April 1, 2020. A census worker will return to pick up the completed questionnaires at an agreed-upon time.
  • Self-enumeration: A census workers swears in and trains the administrator and then leaves behind census materials so that the administration can conduct the enumeration for each individual who is living or staying at the group quarters on April 1, 2020. A census worker returns at an agreed-upon time to pick up the completed questionnaires.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on the 2020 Census and the information above, visit the United States Census 2020 website. This website includes general information about the census including timelines, a sample questionnaire so you know what questions will be asked, information on how the data is used, tips to avoid a scam, and more.