One month from now (between March 12 and March 20), letters and forms from the Census Bureau will start arriving in your mailbox. The 2020 Census is a moment for our growing power to be seen and heard, and this is our time to participate! But sometimes Census materials can be confusing for immigrant communities, especially for our neighbors and family members who don’t speak English.
One way to be prepared for the 2020 Census is to know what pieces of mail are coming to your neighborhoods. So, what exactly should we be expecting here in Illinois?
1. Invitation to participate
Starting in mid-March, the Census Bureau will be mailing a letter with instructions on how to fill out the 2020 Census. The invitation with instructions on how to participate will be sent to 80% of households, so most likely you will receive this letter. Here’s what the letter will look like:
NOTE: The 2020 Census URL will be released at a later date. On this sample invitation, that area is left blank.
2. Paper form + invitation
Some households (about 20% nationwide) will receive a paper form in the mail, along with the invitation. This will include the option to fill out the form online, but it will also include a full paper form. Households that receive this are in areas with a higher population of people aged 65 or more, low internet subscribership, or low internet response to other Census surveys (including the American Community Survey). Households that receive a paper form will still receive instructions on how to complete the Census online. Here’s what the paper form will look like:
What about materials in other languages?
Many areas in Illinois will be receiving mailings in English and Spanish. Areas might receive the invitation in English and Spanish, while other areas might receive the bilingual paper form. Check out this map to see which mailing your neighborhood will receive.
Unfortunately, the Census will not be mailing materials in languages other than English and Spanish. The Census internet self-response website and questionnaire assistance hotline will provide assistance in 12 languages (website and phone number not yet available), while language guides are currently available for download in 59 languages via the Census website.
Remember: the Census is a way for our communities to be seen and heard! Knowing the forms and invitations that you and your neighbors will receive next month will make it much easier to participate in the 2020 Census.