Frequently Asked Questions

National Survey of Children’s Health

Survey Background

What is the National Survey of Children’s Health?

  • The National Survey of Children’s Health collects information on the physical and mental health and health care needs of children ages 0-17 years in the United States. This information can then be used by states and communities to make sure that children and their families have what they need to be healthy and thrive.

How long has the survey been going on?

  • The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau has been conducting national surveys about children’s health since 2001, when the first National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs was conducted to learn about how special health care needs impact American children and their families. The first National Survey of Children’s Health was conducted in 2003 to help states and communities better understand the health and well-being of all children. Starting in 2016, the survey is being conducted every year to collect information that is up-to-date and accessible to states and communities working to improve the health and well-being of children.

Why should I participate in the National Survey of Children’s Health?

  • The survey collects important information on the health and health care needs of American children 0-17 years old. Your participation provides critical information about children in your state and ensures that households like yours are fairly represented.
  • The results help families, communities, policymakers, child advocates, educators, researchers, and the general public better understand and respond to the health and health care needs of children and families.

Who sponsors the survey?

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau – part of the federal government – sponsors and provides the primary funding and oversight for the survey.

How is the U.S. Census Bureau involved?

  • The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the survey.

Selection of Survey Participants

Why was I selected for the survey?

  • The U.S. Census Bureau chose your address, not you personally, from a scientifically selected sample from a list of ALL residential addresses in the country. Only a sample is selected because surveying every address in the country would cost too much and take too long.

How was my address/household/child chosen?

  • The U.S. Census Bureau randomly selected your address from all of the home addresses in the nation using scientific sampling methods. The sample is designed so that information collected from a few thousand people will accurately describe the health experiences of all children in the United States.

Do I have to participate?

  • No. However, your participation is very important because each person who answers the survey represents thousands of others. Not participating in the survey may mean that children like yours or those in your community will not be represented in the results. Many people find participating to be interesting and enjoyable. You may choose not to answer any question for any reason.

There are no children in my household. Do I still need to answer the survey?

  • Yes, even if there are no children in the home, we still need you to respond so that we can get accurate information about the number of children living in the United States.

Answering the Survey

What kinds of questions does the survey ask?

Survey topics include:

  • Child and family characteristics
  • Physical and mental health status, including current conditions and functional difficulties
  • Health insurance status, type, and adequacy
  • Access and use of health care services
  • Medical, dental, and specialty care needed and received
  • Family health and activities
  • Impact of child’s health on family
  • Neighborhood characteristics

How long will it take?

  • The first part of the survey contains a few questions to determine if you’re eligible to complete a more detailed questionnaire. This first part will take less than 5 minutes to complete. If your household is eligible for the second part of the survey, you will then be asked more detailed questions about one specific child within the household. This second part should take about 30 minutes depending on your answers.

What if I do not know an exact answer to a question?

  • You can ask someone else in your household. They might know the answer. If no one knows or there is no one else in your household, please provide your best guess or estimate. If you need clarification on what a specific question is asking, please call the U.S. Census Bureau toll-free at 1-800-845-8241 or email us at childrenshealth@census.gov

Why does the National Survey of Children’s Health ask such detailed questions?

  • Detailed information is collected because many of the child health challenges faced by families, communities, and states are complicated. In addition, the survey is the only source of information in the country on some health conditions and needs.

How do I recover my Web survey username or password?

  • If you have lost or misplaced your Web username and/or password, please call the U.S. Census Bureau toll-free at 1-800-845-8241 for assistance.

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Security

How is my privacy protected?

The information that you provide is used solely for statistical purposes. All U.S. Census Bureau employees take an oath of confidentiality and are subject to fines or imprisonment for improperly disclosing information. Names and addresses are removed from all forms, and are not included in any statistical release. Also, the National Survey of Children’s Health NEVER asks for:

  • your Social Security number
  • your personal information via email
  • money or donations
  • credit card information

How can I verify that the survey materials are legitimate?

  • To verify that the survey materials are legitimate, please call the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-800-845-8241.
  • This survey has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The eight-digit OMB approval number 0607-0990 confirms this approval and appears in the bottom left corner of the survey web page, and in the upper right corner of the paper instrument. If this number were not displayed, we could not conduct this survey.

Why do you need my name and phone number?

  • Although your name and phone number are not required, we would like this information in case we need to follow-up with you at a later date.

For this survey, is it safe to provide my information over the Internet?

  • Yes. Your information is encrypted at all times. That way, the personal data sent to your browser and the data you send back is virtually impossible to decipher in the unlikely event it gets intercepted by an unauthorized party.

Additional Information

How can I obtain additional information about the National Survey of Children’s Health?

You can find additional information about the survey here:

How can I respond to the survey or get help?

You can respond in one of the following ways:

As noted in the letter you received requesting your participation, if you cannot complete the survey by Web, you may contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-800-845-8241 or childrenshealth@census.gov for assistance. You can also contact us if you received a Web questionnaire and prefer to respond by paper.

Date Last Reviewed:  August 2018