March 3, 2010 | USA TODAY | Original Article

How Census counts America in 2010

Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau launches a count of the U.S. population as required by the Constitution. The 2010 Census helps communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year.The data collected also help determine the number of seats states have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This year the Census is using targeted approaches to reflect the lifestyles and cultures of an increasingly diverse population across the USA.

For the first time, for example, the Census Bureau is mailing 13 million bilingual English-Spanish questionnaires. Help with other languages is available on the Census website or by phone.

The 2010 count launched Jan. 25 in Noorvik, Alaska, where the Census Bureau began counting Alaskans early and in person.

USA TODAY lists key dates of the 2010 Census:

Feb 17-19: Advance letters are mailed to areas where Census forms will be delivered in person—mostly in rural areas.

March 8-10: Advance letters are mailed to most homes.

March 15-17: Forms are mailed to most homes.

March 22-24: Reminder postcards are mailed.

March 29-31: Workers count homeless people at shelters, soup kitchens/food vans, and selected outdoor locations.

April 1-10: Second forms are mailed to many homes that haven't returned first one.

April 10- May 21: Workers distribute and collect forms in prisons, barracks, dorms and nursing homes.

May through July: Workers visit every home that has not returned a form.

Late December: State totals released.

February — March 2011: Detailed data released state by state.