With one month left before completion of the 2020 Census, Santa Barbara County has surpassed its self-response rate of the previous 2010 census.

As of Aug. 26, Santa Barbara County had a response rate of 68.8 percent, compared to 68.5 percent in 2010. Four cities within the county have also exceeded their 2010 rate: Buellton, Lompoc, Solvang and Santa Barbara.

“This is an important benchmark, but we aren’t done yet,” said Joni Maiden, co-chair of the Santa Barbara County Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. “Our goal has always been to count everyone, and we are going full-steam ahead in our efforts.”

Self-response is available online at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020 for English or 844-268-2020 for Spanish. Those who received a paper questionnaire earlier this year can still complete and return it in the envelope provided.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for U.S. Census response was extended from July 31 to Sept. 30.

Much of the Santa Barbara County Census 2020 Complete Count Committee’s work has been concentrated on reaching what the U.S. Census Bureau calls traditionally “hard-to-count” (HTC) populations located in specific census tracts. (HTC tracts can be found on the Census Self-Response Tracker.)

Hard-to-count populations include unemployed, low-income individuals; limited- and non-English speakers; people who live in crowded and/or rented units in multi-unit structures; people who don’t live in traditional housing; children age 0-5; and seniors, among others.

“Children under 5 are undercounted at a higher rate than any other age group, and yet children are among those who benefit most from an accurate count in the form of public programs and education,” Maiden said. “In 2010, Santa Barbara County ranked third of the highest undercounts of young children in the state.

“For each individual not counted, the county stands to lose federal funding by up to $2,000 per person, per year for 10 years. An undercount of just 5 percent equals a loss of $430 million over the next decade.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the local Complete Count Committee has explored new ways to reach HTC populations, including census caravans in which representatives from partner agencies and organizations decorated vehicles and paraded through the communities of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Guadalupe and Goleta. A bicycle caravan was held in Lompoc.

The committee recently launched a Spanish-language print, TV, radio and digital advertising campaign.

Representatives from Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) who are on the county’s Complete Count Committee are assisting outreach efforts to Spanish and indigenous speakers located primarily in North County, where the response is lagging behind 2010 rates.

For information, visit my2020census.gov, SantaBarbaraCountyCensus.org, follow Santa Barbara County Census on Twitter and Facebook @CensusSBC, or e-mail to CensusSBC@countyofsb.org.

The Santa Barbara County Census 2020 Complete Count Committee has launched a local outreach campaign called We all Count. Todos Contamos to provide the public access to local resources and information about the census in English and Spanish. It is comprised of city, county and state governments, community-based organizations, and education. Visit www.SantaBarbaraCountyCensus.org.