The start of the 2020 Census count is still more than 10 months away but plans are already in the works to make sure every Garden State resident gets counted.

“This upcoming Census will ultimately determine, like others, whether New Jerseyans get fair access to billions of dollars in federal funding and our Congressional representation,” said Tahesha Way, New Jersey Secretary of State and Chair of the New Jersey Complete Count Commission .

The last Census, which takes place every 10 years, resulted in $22 billion in federal funding to New Jersey to pay for highways, transportation, Medicare and food stamps, among other services.

“This Census effort is to make certain that all of the federal funding which New Jersey should receive is actually going to get allocated appropriately," Way said.

She said the Commission is reviewing strategies to encourage New Jersey families to list all of the kids in their household, even babies, “because children under 5 have been under-counted in the last Census.”

A question on the Census form that’s being challenged in court could ask people whether or not they are a U.S. citizen.

That has sparked fears that unauthorized immigrants may not fill out the forms, but officials continue to stress information collected during the Census cannot legally be shared with other branches of government, and no one will face possible deportation because of information they provide.

She said the panel is reviewing a number of possible “engagement efforts” to make sure everybody gets counted and they are looking forward to receiving testimony and suggestions from different groups and individuals at a planned Complete Count meeting this week.

The commission is made up of state lawmakers and community, faith and business organization leaders.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the New Jersey Complete Count Commission will be at Passaic County Community College at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will take place in the College’s Founder’s Hall auditorium.

The commission is statutorily mandated to develop a Census outreach strategy to accurately count the entire New Jersey population that is reported to the governor.

Also read:

NJ towns with the most non-citizens

Census may have missed 27K young kids in NJ

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com