National Report: Hawaiian Children Rank 35th in Education and 34th in Economic Well-Being

Hawaiʻi ranks 35th for parenting, according to KIDS COUNT Data Book 2022

The educational and economic well-being of Hawaii’s children and youth ranks in the bottom third of states, according to the KIDS COUNT Data Book 2022, a 50-state report of recent household data compiled by the Annie E. Casey.

Hawaii ranks 22nd in overall child wellbeing in the Data Book, which tracks 16 indicators across four categories. The state ranked 34th in economic well-being, 35th in education, fifth in health, and 15th in family and community background.

Hawaiʻi ranks in the bottom 10 states for several key metrics, according to the Data Book:

  • 111,000 children lived in families that spent more than 30% of their income on housing, which is considered a high financial burden. This equates to 37% of all children in the state, ranking Hawaiʻi 48th.
  • 72% of Hawaiian eighth graders performed below proficiency levels in math, ranking 42nd in the nation.
  • About 5,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 19, or 9% of that population, were neither in school nor in work, which ranks the state 43rd.

The data book uses the latest figures available, some of which were collected before the pandemic, according to a press release from the Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network, the Hawaiian member of the KIDS COUNT network.

“Years of public underinvestment in Hawai’i keiki have led to these disturbing statistics, which should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about our state’s future,” said Deborah Zysman. , executive director of the Hawai’i Children’s Action Network. “The upcoming elections are an opportunity for voters to ask candidates how they will bring about the profound changes our keiki need and deserve.”

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As children and youth across the country have suffered trauma and loss due to the pandemic, Hawaii’s keiki have felt the economic effects of the pandemic disproportionately, with the state facing some of the highest rates. highest unemployment rates in the country.

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The Data Book’s Hawaiʻi findings indicate that 2,200 more children and youth in Hawaiʻi struggled with anxiety and depression in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, than in 2016. That’s a 23% increase.

Economic and housing instability often leads to anxiety and stress, which negatively affects the mental health of children and young people. Children’s rights advocates, including the Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network and the University of Hawaiʻi Center on the Family, say the findings ring alarm bells and underscore the need for increased funding for mental health services, education public and social programs that support children and families.

“Compared to other states, Hawaiʻi ranks in the bottom third in education,” said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, junior specialist at the University of Hawaii’s Center on Family. “Policymakers have recently made investments to expand access to early learning and to address the impact of the pandemic on learning loss, but there is still room for improvement, and these investments must continue in the years to come so that we can provide this generation with what they need to lead the state.

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One area in which Hawaiʻi is doing particularly well is in children’s health, according to the Data Book. The state has the second-lowest death rate for children and adolescents and the fourth-highest percentage of children with health insurance.

“We know what works for keiki: providing quality early and universal care and learning, enacting paid family and sick leave, embracing student-centered budgeting, and providing economic security for families,” Zysman said. . “Next year, the legislature will have the opportunity to embrace these priorities, putting children and families first and eliminating longstanding racial disparities.”

For more information, see the Hawaii State Profile at HCAN website.

A dashboard of selected Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data for Hawaiʻi between April 2020 and March 2021 is available at www.hawaii-can.org/covid19_dashboard.

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