By Ambar Espinoza, 16, University HS
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Did you know that a small census survey can help your community have more funding to build schools, libraries and bus routes? Did you know that a small census survey can help businesses find sites to build supermarkets, new housing and movie theaters? Did you know that in the next big earthquake, a small census survey can determine how much rescue and financial aid a community needs to save lives? Well, it can. So when your parents receive the United States Census 2000 survey by mail, make sure that they take the time to fill it out and mail it back to the Census Bureau.

During the last week of March, Census questionnaires will be sent out to homes all over the United States. The goal of the Census is to find an official count of how many people live in the country. The questionnaire will ask for simple information about your household like name, sex, age, ancestry, house tenure—if you rent or own your home—and how many people live in the house. A few random households may receive a longer survey that takes more minutes to fill out. The long form will include questions about education, employment and disability.

When you mail the survey back, the Census Bureau takes all the information sent in and makes a report out of it, according to the US Census Bureau’s website ( The report only consists of numbers. The Census Bureau will not share your individual information with any government agencies, like Welfare, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), courts, police or the military. If anyone from the Census Bureau gives out individual information from the survey to any government agencies, they will receive a $5,000 fine and a five-year prison term. There is a law that protects your individual information.

The Census report will contain information such as how many people live in a block, community, in a county or district. These reports help the government determine what areas need more funding to build schools, libraries and bus routes. Communities will get enough funding for people who filled out the surveys. Let’s say there is a community with 1,000 people, but only 500 fill out the surveys. Their community will only get funding for 500 and not 1,000 people.

The same goes for businesses. Businesses take a look at these reports and figure out the best location to have restaurants, malls and theaters. If there aren’t many people living around a certain area, why construct anything? They need to find locations with more people.

The Census is safe and easy. So if your parents don’t read or understand English, you should help them fill out the survey. Let them know beforehand that the Census will come by mail and why it is important to fill it out. If your parents don’t trust the government, let them know it’s safe.

For more information

Call the following Los Angeles County offices for information on the count and job openings:

• Commerce (323) 890-5846
• Compton (310) 537-9896
• Culver City (310) 253-9540
• Culver City East (310) 815-4438
• East Los Angeles/Monterey Park (323) 981-3960
• Glendale/Burbank (818) 551-6720
• Hollywood/Mid-Wilshire (213) 251-7080
• Inglewood (310) 680-7100
• Long Beach (562) 980-3093
• Los Angeles-downtown (213) 894-4118
• Monrovia/Pasadena (626) 256-6315
• Norwalk (562) 484-0636
• Santa Clarita (661) 257-5000
• Santa Monica (310) 235-6698
• Torrance (310) 891-2936
• Van Nuys (818) 756-4630
• West Covina (626) 732-1125
• Woodland Hills (818) 932-0285