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Census deadline two weeks away; data crucial for state funding for community programs

In two weeks, the 2020 US Census will wrap up, and it's important that you participate.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The deadline to fill out the 2020 US Census is now just two weeks away and still many people have not been counted.

As of September 15, statewide about 65 percent of households have completed the census in Tennessee. In Knox County, about 71 percent have filled it out.

That data directly impacts federal funding for important programs in our community.

RELATED: Filling out the census can help your community get funding for programs

One is a preschool program called Head Start, which provides opportunities for low-income children and their families.The program serves children 5 and under and provides services that encourage social, emotional and intellectual development.

This isn't just a school program, Head Start makes sure those kids have wellness checks, see the dentist and are up-to-date on immunizations.

Right now, Head Start has 887 children enrolled in their Knox County program. It seems like a big number, but it's only 4 percent of the estimated number of children eligible for their program.

They normally maintain about 300 children on a waiting list.

"If you have an influx in population, and people who have needs--for example lost their jobs because of COVID--or hours were cut, then by doing the census and completing it, it gives the government information about the number of people here and their needs," said director Nancy Thomas. "It's really important for our community to complete the census and give a better picture of our population as well."

If the census numbers aren't correct, this might mean reduced funding or limited opportunities for additional funding. 

"If the census doesn't show that there is a need and if there were opportunities for additional funding and we like ask for more money and feel we are undeserving that population--if the census doesn't support it, then the government can say 'Well I don't see them, there's not a need in the community'", explained Nancy Thomas.

RELATED: Need to know: Just a few weeks left to complete your 2020 Census

You can fill out the census in several ways.

Right now census workers are going door to door to help people fill out their surveys.

You can also mail in your census or fill it out online

It takes about 5 minutes.

Head Start plans to begin in October and they are still accepting enrollment applications. 

You can call them at 865.522.2193 or visit their website here.