DeKalb educational organization recieves grant for Census count

Scottdale Early Learning, Inc. (SEL), an early care and educational organization serving low and moderate income families in DeKalb County, has received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to address Census underreporting of children under the age of five in Central DeKalb County, according to a press release.

SEL will work in partnership with CDF Action (formerly Clarkston Development Foundation) to reach out to refugee families, immigrants and African-Americans. CDF will use the grant to hire community ambassadors who speak diverse languages to plan events in apartment complexes and Clarkston early learning centers. The multi-lingual ambassadors will help inform the families about the importance of the census and assist them to complete the census form. The education effort will begin in January 2020.

“According to the Urban Institute, Georgia has one of the highest Census undercounts of children under age five in the country,” said Maryum Gibson, president and CEO of Scottdale Early Learning. “Accurate reporting is extremely important, since Census figures are used to determine federal funding for schools, hospitals and roads, among other government programs and projects.”

According to Gibson, some central DeKalb residents, especially immigrants and refugees, might have language and literacy barriers to correctly filling out the Census form. Clarkston, Ga. has one of the highest percentages of refugee families in the country, and is known as the most diverse square mile in the U.S. Others might fear the government or be unclear on how the data will be used. Gibson says communication is the key.

“The grant will be used to train and support leadership and staff of early learning programs, including child care centers, school-based Pre-K programs, Head Start, family child care learning homes, family literacy programs and home visiting services,” said Gibson. “Community ambassadors will help them develop their own Census Counts plan by including Census information in regular scheduled activities like parent meetings, conferences, special events, and more.”