As early childhood partners you all have a unique opportunity to help ensure that every Alaskan child is counted in the 2020 Alaska Census! Did you know that children are one of the most undercounted populations in the state? Roughly two million children under the age of 5 were not counted in the 2000 census. And the consequences are drastic – less funding for schools, low-income assistance programs such as Denali KidCare, Head Start, and the national free school lunch program.
Use this simple guide to put together a We Count! event in your community. We can celebrate literacy and champion the importance of the census at the same time.
Step-by-Step Planning Guide
1. Pick a date
Census information gathering will occur differently in each community. Census workers will follow up with households who do not respond up to six times, so it’s never too late or early to host a census event.
2. Choose a location
Partner with a local venue where families already feel comfortable or are likely to attend. A library, museum, indoor playground, school, or community center are all great options.
3. Pick a time
We find that 2.5 hours in the late morning on Saturdays work well for our Anchorage events. It’s enough time for families to come late, and not all at once. And it doesn’t interfere with meal times or once-a-day nap schedules. You can do what works best for your community!
4. Plan your activities
Think counting and number-themed activities geared towards young children. We have a few suggestions to get started on Best Beginnings’s Pinterest boards, designed to provide activities themed around counting and the book Goodnight Numbers, a new addition to Imagination Library. Sassy’s Let’s Count! is another great title from Imagination Library.
You can also read aloud and/or send families home with a copy of the We Count! Counting Book for children! This book is available in English, Spanish, and Tagalog and is a free limited resource. Contact Griffin with Alaska Counts to request copies.
5. Request supporting materials
Best Beginnings has prepared a number of free event kits available by request. Requests can be sent to and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. These kits include many of the supplies needed to do the suggested storytimes and companion activities:
- Number Train Puzzle
- Melissa & Doug Number Puzzle
- Ready to Learn! Pre-K Numbers Flashcards
- Foam Dice
- Counting Bears and Cups
- 1 copy of Goodnight Numbers
- 1 copy of Sassy! Let’s Count
- 1 copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Alaska Counts has a variety of flyers that can be downloaded from their website, as well as buttons, stickers, and children’s counting books. Contact them at to see how they can help. Make sure to mention what community you’re in – a local committee member may be available to help.
Funding may be available to assist you with your event! Apply for an Alaska mini-grant online. The mini-grant program is an opportunity for organizations across the state to apply for up to $250 to conduct local census outreach in their own community. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and you can expect to hear back within two weeks.
6. Advertise your event
Post information about your event on Facebook, community billboards, and at public places families might frequent. Use the hashtag #alaskacounts on all your public social media posts so we can follow them and help you promote your event.
With your permission, Best Beginnings can also email all families enrolled in Imagination Library about your event. Simply send the details to our Communications Director at least two weeks in advance and we can set you up with free Mailchimp email services.
Questions? Comments? Contact us!