do not throw away the census advance letter

I received a pretty important press release from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center urging the API community: do not throw away the Census Advance Letter. Next week, every household in the United States will receive an important letter explaining the 2010 Census. Some people will probably think it's junk mail, but community organizations are trying to get the word out to make sure it gets read. Here's APALC's press release:
APALC Urges API Community - Do Not Throw Away the Census Advance Letter

Next Week, Every U.S. Household Will Receive Important Letter Explaining the 2010 Census

LOS ANGELES, CA - With Census Day quickly approaching on April 1, 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau is preparing to notify households of what to expect in the upcoming weeks, and the community should respond by carefully reading all Census-related materials sent to their households and seeking help if they have any questions about Census 2010.

During the week of March 8, 2010, every household in the United States will receive an "Advance Letter" from the Census Bureau. The letter, which is written in English, will inform household residents that they should be receiving their Census forms on the week of March 15, 2010, and emphasizes the importance of every household completing their forms. The letter also provides the following short written message in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, and Simplified Chinese: "Go to 2010census.gov for help completing your 2010 Census form when it arrives."

For the nearly one out of 10 individuals in the U.S. who have limited proficiency with the English language, community organizations are fearful that the Advance Letter will not be read. "The Census comes around only once every 10 years, and there is a lot at stake for our communities," said An Le, Statewide Network Manager of Asian and Pacific Islander 2010 Census Network (API Count), a statewide project anchored by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC). "The Census is used to determine how much our communities receive in federal funds, and what critical social services that are available for our communities. But because of fear, distrust, and language and cultural barriers, there are so many Asians and Pacific Islanders who do not get the message about how participating in the Census benefits our communities. That is why we are urging our community read next week’s Advance Letter - it is critical they understand the importance of the Census forms that will arrive the following week."

Starting on March 15, Census forms will be mailed out to all households. The Census Bureau is asking for everyone to complete the forms and mail them back by Census Day, April 1. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs), operated by Census Bureau staff, will be open in various community locations from March 19 to April 19. Common QAC locations include libraries, community organizations, churches, and small businesses. At every QAC, there will be official Census Bureau staff available to help individuals complete their forms, oftentimes in languages of the local community.

Anyone who needs assistance or has questions about how to fill out the Census forms can go to a QAC, which can be found on the Census Bureau website at www.2010.census.gov, or they can also contact a local API community-based organization by going to www.apicount.com.

The Census Bureau has an array of materials and services available for communities that do not speak English. There are four categories of help provided by the Census Bureau or through community partnership with the Census Bureau. These four types of assistance are translated forms, toll-free hotlines, language assistance guides, and QACs.

Those who speak Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, and Spanish are able to request Census forms translated into their languages by calling a toll-free number. For Korean call 866-955-2010, for Chinese call 866-935-2010, for Vietnamese call 866-945-2010, for Spanish call 866-928-2010, and for Russian call 866-965-2010. For those that request a translated form in any of these languages, it is important to save the English form that was originally sent in the mail, in case the translated forms do not arrive on time or get lost. There is also an English assistance line available at 866-872-6868.

Language assistance guides are available in 59 different languages. These materials are available from the Census 2010 website at www.2010.census.gov. Materials can also be found for the Asian and Pacific Islander communities at www.apicount.com or www.fillinourfuture.org

Beginning on April 22, Census Bureau workers will be visiting the households that did not complete and mail in their Census forms. "For every one percent of households that fail to return their Census forms, it costs the federal government $85 billion to send Census Bureau workers out to those households to follow up and assist those households in completing the forms," said Le. "During this time of economic crisis, we encourage our community members to complete their forms by April 1 as a way to save taxpayers’ money. We want to make sure that people are aware of the resources that are available to our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to complete the Census, and the importance of mailing back Census forms by April 1. Participating in the Census is a safe and easy way to ensure that our communities count and get counted."
Some of you come from Asian American households where English is not the first language. Hopefully, you can help spread the word to your families and friends about how important getting an accurate Census count is for our community. For more information, visit the Census 2010 website here. Materials for API communities can be found at API Count and Fill In Our Future.

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