2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals economic well-being of Hawaii's children

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Ivette Rodriguez Stern, (808) 956-3760
Hawaii KIDS COUNT Director, Center on the Family/CTAHR
Posted: Jul 25, 2012

2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book
2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book

The Center of the Family in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at UH Manoa announced that, according to data released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in its 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Hawai‘i ranks 24th in key indicators of child well-being.

The 2012 Data Book highlights that certain conditions for Hawai‘i’s children have improved, while others have worsened:

  • All economic well-being conditions measured – namely, children living in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high cost burden, and teens not in school and not working – have worsened over the past several years.
  • There were some improvements in the area of education. The percentage of fourth-graders not proficient in reading and the percentage of eighth-graders not proficient in math both decreased between 2005-11. There were also more 3- to 4-year-olds attending preschool toward the end of the decade than in the preceding years. The percentage of high school students not graduating on time, however, increased, though only slightly, in recent years.
  • In recent years, two of the health conditions measured showed little change (percentage of low-birthweight babies) to no change (percentage of children without health insurance).  It is worth noting that Hawai‘i has among the lowest rates of children without health insurance. The child and teen death rate and the percentage of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs worsened during the period examined.
  • In the area of family and community well-being, there has been an increase in the percentage of children in single-parent families, the teen birth rate, and the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas. The percentage of children in families in which the household head lacks a high school diploma has shown a slight improvement.
The Center on the Family serves as the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate. “We’re encouraged by the gains made in the education domain in recent years, especially the improvements seen in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math proficiency,” said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, Director of Hawai‘i KIDS COUNT. “However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. When compared with other states, Hawai‘i ranks near the bottom third in the education domain.”
This year’s findings emphasize that, while the recession ended in the summer of 2009, many families across the country and in Hawai‘i have continued to struggle in its wake.  In 2010, 30% of children under 18 in Hawai‘i had parents without secure employment, an increase from 26% in 2008. 
Hawai‘i also has one of the highest rates of children living in households with a housing cost burden (i.e., where more than 30% of monthly household income is spent on rent, mortgage, taxes, insurance or related expenses), which increased from 37% in 2005 to 46% in 2010.
Commented Interim Director of the Center on the Family Grace Fong, “When compared with other states, Hawai‘i ranks somewhere in the middle on overall child well-being, indicating that much more can and needs to be done to create a better future for Hawai‘i’s children. We need to focus our attention on the future by strengthening family economic opportunity and building supportive communities that nurture our children and families.”
The 2012 Data Book has been updated with a new index that provides an even more robust and comprehensive portrait of how children across the country are faring. It assesses states based on how they do on 16 indicators of child well-being – a change from previous annual rankings based on 10 indicators, reflecting the tremendous advances in child development research since the Foundation’s first KIDS COUNT Data Book  in 1990.
In addition to ranking states, the 16 indicators are organized into four categories: Economic Well-being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. The report also provides state ranks in each of these areas.
In addition to the key measures tracked in the Data Book, the KIDS COUNT Data Center (http://datacenter.kidscount.org) provides easy, online access to the latest child well-being data on hundreds of indicators by state, county, city and school district. It serves as a comprehensive source of information for policymakers, advocates, members of the media, and others concerned with addressing the needs of children, families and communities.
By visiting the Data Center, users can download the complete Data Book, and create interactive maps and graphs for selected indicators and areas.
Supplemental materials such as the national news release, 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book fact sheet, state releases, state profiles and Data Book are available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/databook/2012/.
Follow the Annie E. Casey Foundation on this issue on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.

For more information, visit: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/databook/2012/