NCL Blog

How does the Census affect health care for adult learners?

How does the Census affect health care for adult learners?

By Cynthia Macleay Campbell, Ed.D.

Why should adult learners complete the Census? Because their health may depend on it!

People who work with adult learners are all too aware of the health challenges that adult learners face. Typical examples include the need for

  • Health screenings and preventive care
  • Eyeglasses
  • Diabetes medication and education
  • Addiction treatment
  • Mental health care
  • Dental care
  • Help with quitting smoking or fighting obesity

These and other health challenges often affect adult learners’ ability to attend and persist in education programs – and research has shown that persistence for 100 hours or more is the key to achievement of educational and career goals such as high school completion and upskilling.

Adult learners are also among the people with the most difficulty in accessing health care and health information. They may encounter practitioners who are not sensitive to their culture or able to speak their language. In short, they are on the wrong side of the health disparities in the United States, where certain groups have worse health outcomes than others.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) funds multiple public health programs that bridge these disparities. They include

  • Grants to help people from minority groups and disadvantaged communities train to be health workers in their communities. This helps increase the numbers of practitioners who can relate to patients in culturally appropriate ways.
  • Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Block grants for Community Mental Health Services
  • Block Grants for the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse
  • Health Center Programs (Community Health Centers, Migrant Health Centers, Health Care for the Homeless, and Public Housing Primary Care)
  • Telehealth services, where people can call in for health information.
  • Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry
  • Development and Coordination of Rural Health Services

What does the Census have to do with these health equity and public health efforts? The funding that comes to each local community to support them is determined by the Census count for that community. Without an accurate count, adult learners may have further struggles to obtain the health services and supports they need to flourish.

For further reading:

Census 2020 Schedule Changes Due to COVID-19

Census 2020 Schedule Changes Due to COVID-19

On Friday March 20, the Census Bureau announced adjustments to the operations schedule for collecting 2020 Census responses. Here are several that are important for adult learners and their communities.

The best approach for everyone is to complete the Census as soon as possible, either online, on the phone, or by mail. People who have not received a Census ID number in the mail can complete the form online using their home address.

  • Self-response phase: The end date for self-response is extended to August 14. The original end date was July 31.
  • Update Leave: This refers to 5 million households where Census workers will drop off paper invitations at the front door. This was scheduled to begin on March 15. It has been delayed and will now take place March 29-May 1.
  • Mobile Questionnaire Assistance: In this activity, Census workers with tablets will be stationed in public places (grocery stores, community centers) to help people complete the Census. This activity was originally scheduled for March 30 – July 31. It will now take place April 13 – August 14.
  • Non-response Followup: These in-person visits to households that have not responded online, by phone, or by mail were originally scheduled for May 13 – July 31. The new dates are May 28 – August 14.

Group quarters enumeration, service-based numeration, and the count of people experiencing homelessness outdoors have also been delayed. Read the Census Bureau’s revised schedule for more information.

The Census Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has expressed support for these schedule adjustments, noting that “this extension gives the Census Bureau and advocates the flexibility we need to expand and modify outreach.” The National Coalition for Literacy is a Census Task Force partner. Read the Task Force’s full statement.

How will the coronavirus affect the Census?

How will the coronavirus affect the Census?

Concerns about COVID-19 (the illness caused by the new coronavirus) are increasing as the number of cases grows across the United States, and many people are wondering whether this public health crisis will have an effect on the Census count.

Fortunately, the 2020 Census is set up in a way that allows everyone to participate without fear of exposure to the virus. When the invitation to participate comes in the mail, it will include instructions for responding online, by phone, and by mail. As the Census Bureau says,

It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

You will be able to respond either online or by phone in English and 12 other languages. If you respond right away, no Census taker will visit you.

The Census Bureau’s most recent statement, released on March 11, outlines the plan for in-person followup:

Census takers plan to conduct the Nonresponse Followup operation in a handful of communities beginning as early as April 9, and across the country on May 13. Households can still respond on their own during this phase (online and phone response is available through July 31).

The Census Bureau will closely follow guidance from public health authorities when conducting this operation, as we do when conducting all field operations. 

If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count. 

The safest and easiest strategy, then, is to respond online or by phone as soon as you receive the invitation in the mail.

Train Your Adult Learners as Census Ambassadors

Train Your Adult Learners as Census Ambassadors

A full and accurate decennial Census count depends on good communication that encourages everyone to participate. Participation is critical because an undercount would have a big impact on adult education programs and on adult learners’ communities. As trusted community members, adult learners can be extremely effective messengers who provide information, promote Census completion, and clarify points of confusion or misinformation.

Participate in a Census Ambassador Train-the-Trainer Program

You can multiply the effects of your own messaging about the Census by providing Census Ambassador training for your adult learners. This trainer training program will show you how! The program includes a sequence of two webinars and a moderated community of practice.

In the first webinar, March 11, 2:00-3:00 eastern time, you will receive step-by-step instructions and all the materials you need to lead your learners and staff through a Census Ambassador training. You’ll be able to choose between two ways of carrying out the training: teacher-led in the classroom, and program-wide, with a staff person leading the training for all interested staff and learners.

As a participant in the first webinar, you will also be enrolled in a facilitated online community of practice. The CoP will allow you to pose questions to the trainer and share challenges, solutions, and effective practices with your colleagues.

The second webinar, April 15, 2:00-3:00 eastern time, will summarize lessons learned and provide a platform for you to ask questions and share strategies and successes.

Please plan on attending both webinars. There is no cost for this training, but you must register! If you can’t make one or both of the webinars, please register anyway, and we will send you a link to the recording of the webinar, as well as a copy of the slides. 

March 11 at 2:00 eastern — register here
April 15 at 2:00 eastern — register here

Encourage Your Learners to Become Census Ambassadors

As adult educators, we have a chance to share important information with our learners, so they can decide how to participate in this pivotal moment.  Census Ambassadors are able to speak knowledgeably about the Census and share why it matters. They are able to do the following:

  • Understand and explain the basics of the U.S. Census — what it is, why we do it, and how it affects our communities
  • Answer basic questions about the census questionnaire, such as Do I have to fill it out? Do I have to answer all the questions? Does it include questions about citizenship or immigration status? 
  • Develop their leadership and speaking and listening skills by following through on the task of recruiting at least 10 people to take the Pledge to be Counted.
  • Earn debit card prizes if they recruit at least 50 people to take the Pledge to be Counted.
  • Receive a certificate acknowledging their role as a Census Ambassador
  • Add this volunteer work and associated skills to their resume

Take the Pledge To Be Counted!

Individual teachers, tutors, and staff, take the Pledge To Be Counted.

Census Ambassadors, take the Pledge To Be Counted.

Adult learners and others, take the Pledge To Be Counted.

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