'Sesame Street' launches 2020 census starring the Count to remind families Everyone Counts

5 May 2020

(reprinted from USA TODAY   March 9, 2020 by Hannah Yasharoff)


This May 30, 2018 file photo shows Sesame Street character Count von Count at Sesame Workshop's 16th annual Benefit Gala in New York.ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — No other age group was under-counted more during the last once-a-decade census than children under age 5, researchers say. Sesame Street is hoping to use Count von Count to change that.

The Muppet best known as the Count is joining Elmo, Rosita and her mom, Rosa, in public service announcements filmed on the set of the long-running educational television show. The spots encourage parents of young children to make sure they and their children are counted in the 2020 census.

The public service announcements in English and Spanish started airing March 9th. The head count started for most people March 12th.

In the ad, the Count plays a census taker. Casting for the spots was purposeful, Sesame Workshop officials said. “Rosita is a bilingual Muppet. Elmo is popular and connected to young children and families, and the Count is so logical when it comes to being counted,” said Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact.

The Sesame Street characters are joining a growing group of celebrities using their influence to encourage people to be counted. Morgan Freeman made a public service announcement for census outreach efforts in Mississippi. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cut one for New York City.

Demographers estimate that 4.6% percent of children under 5, or 1 million children, weren’t counted in the 2010 census. The under-counting was worst in minority communities, with under-counting for Hispanic children estimated at 7.5% and for black children at 6.3%, according to researchers.

The consequences of overlooking young children in a community can be harmful since the decennial census helps determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending, including money for schools, Head Start and family nutrition programs.

Researchers who have examined the under-count say young children are more likely to be living in multi-generational households, living in foster care, in more than one household because of parental custody arrangements, or living in multi-unit buildings like apartments that are difficult to access.

> Address canvassing will not be complete until October, 2020, so there is plenty of time to respond to YOUR 2020 Census survey. Visit https://2020census.gov/en.html for more information.


This May 30, 2018 fie photo shows Sesame Street character Count von Count at Sesame Workshop's 16th Annual Benefit Gala in New York. Evan Agostini, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP