Study: A Growing Number Of Hawaii’s Keiki Live In Economic Insecurity
Hawaii is in the middle of the pack for overall child wellbeing, with keiki falling behind in education and economic security markers but tracking ahead of most states in measures of health, family and community.
A large proportion of children in Hawaii are living in households burdened by a high cost of living, and it’s a problem that stands out on a national level, according to the 2019 Kids County Data Book.
The the 30th edition of the annual data study on children nationwide found that Hawaii ranks among the bottom five states for economic security with nearly two in five children living in high-cost housing that puts a strain on household members.
Funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the study examines 16 indicators to rank every state across four domains — economic well-being, education, health and family and community.
“Affordable housing remains a challenge in Hawaii,” said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, Hawaii Kids Count Project Director. “High housing costs present a significant challenge to low-income families that already have limited resources. When families are paying too much for housing, they have a harder time meeting other basic needs, such as child care, food and health care, and they can’t save or build financial stability.”
Apart from economic instability, kids in Hawaii are falling behind in national education benchmarks, ranking in the bottom third on reading and math proficiency. Hawaii ranks 33rd in the nation in its on-time high school graduation rate.
But Hawaii ranks among the top states in the health category, based on its relatively low and stable percentage of low birth-weight babies, a low youth death rate and a low percentage of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.
Hawaii is also excelling in the category of family and community, with only 7% of children living in families where the household lacks a high school diploma. The teen birth rate has also seen a dramatic 42% decline in recent years.