ATLANTA — Georgia is among states most at risk of its residents not being counted accurately in the 2020 Census, experts say.

Children under the age of 5 are especially at risk of being under-counted, according to the Urban Institute. That’s due to Georgia’s changing demographics.

Nationwide, 4.5 million children live in areas that are difficult to count for the 2020 Census, WABE Radio reported.

Statewide, 22% of Georgia’s population lives in areas considered hard to count.

In metro Atlanta, about a third of Fulton County residents live in areas which are hard to count. Nearly 40 percent of residents in DeKalb County live in such areas.

There are several reasons why so many Georgia children are difficult to count: They are often in young families, immigrant families and multi-generational homes, the radio station reported.

An undercount can lead to a lack of services including not enough school buses and crowded classrooms, said Rebecca Rice, a data manager with Georgia Kids Count.

Some parents may not include children on the Census, said Mindy Binderman of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students.

“They may fill it out for themselves but really not realize why that young children should be counted,” she said. “Sometimes they’re living in a household that’s larger than the landlord allows. And so someone doesn’t want to report that child for that reason.”

The Census is expected to send mailers to school districts about the count later this year in hopes that it reaches families and makes them more aware.

“Teachers are considered one of the best Census messengers,” Rice said.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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