The 2020 U.S. Census count is heading into its final weeks, and a change to the deadline date for compiling of numbers has made response by citizens even more critical.

The best way to participate is online at the Census homepage. Follow several steps to respond, and the process takes about 10 minutes to complete. Those that do not complete the form online still will need to be counted, though, which means the use of physical counters going door to door.

In-person interviewing has started in some parts of the country and will increase beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 11. However, in working to complete and compile the data collection for government use by the mandated date at the end of 2020, the counting efforts will conclude on Wednesday, Sept. 30, a month earlier than previously had been announced.

It’s critical for communities to have an accurate count. Census results are used for many reasons. They help determine allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding for schools, roads and other public services based on needs in areas based on population.

The results also help to draw legislative district lines and determine a state's seat numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

More facts:

Census Day: People are counted based on their residence on April 1. 

Avoiding Scams: The Census Bureau will only make contact by mail or in person - never by email. For questions about an in-person Census interviewer, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

Why the Deadline Changed: Initially, plans had called for completing the Census count by Friday, July 31. By government order, that date was pushed back to Saturday, Oct. 31, due to complications from the Coronavirus affecting the safety of in-person Census takers. However, recent direction to the Census Bureau from the U.S. Department of Commerce has moved the deadline date for the field data count forward by a month to the new date of Wednesday, Sept. 30. The goal for this move is so numbers can be compiled and presented by the statutory deadline of Dec. 31, 2020 that is required by law.

Multilingual Effort: The Census can be completed online in 13 languages, and webpages and guides are offered in 59 non-English languages.

The Youngest Count: Funding for many projects related to give families with young children a strong start is based on Census data. Yet about 2.2 million children age 5 and under were missed during the 2010 Census. That number adds up to nearly 10 percent of the age group. This has been blamed on many families simply not realizing babies should be counted.

College Students: Coronavirus has affected college classes and disrupted living arrangements for many students. The Census Bureau's statement for college students' residence is as follows: "Per the Census Bureau's residence criteria, in most cases students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the Covid-19 pandemic."

Find out more online or call 1-844-330-2020.