KIDS COUNT 2022 Hawaiʻi Profile
News Release from Hawaii Children’s Action Network, August 8, 2022
The educational and economic well-being of Hawaiʻi’s children and youth ranks in the lowest third of states, according to the 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Hawaiʻi ranks 22nd in overall children’s well-being in the Data Book, which tracks 16 indicators in four categories. The state ranked 34th in economic well-being, 35th in education, fifth in health and 15th in family and community context.
Hawaiʻi ranks in the bottom 10 states for several key measures, 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 cost burden. This equates to 37% of all children in the state, ranking Hawaiʻi 48th.
--72% of Hawai‘i eighth-graders scored below proficient math levels, ranking 42nd in the nation.
--Approximately 5,000 teenagers between ages 16 and 19, or 9% of that population, didn’t attend school or work — ranking the state 43rd.
The Data Book uses the latest available figures, some of which were collected before the pandemic, according to a press release from Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network, Hawaiʻi’s member of the KIDS COUNT network.
“Years of public underinvestment in Hawaiʻi’s keiki have led to these disturbing statistics, which should be a wake-up call to everyone who cares about the future of our state,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “The upcoming election is a chance for voters to ask candidates how they’re going to make the profound changes our keiki need and deserve.”
While children and youth across the country have suffered trauma and loss due to the pandemic, Hawai‘i’s keiki have disproportionately felt the pandemic’s economic effects, with the state facing some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
The Hawaiʻi findings by the Data Book state 2,200 more children and youth in Hawai‘i have struggled with anxiety and depression in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, than in 2016. It’s an increase of 23%.
Economic and housing instability often lead to anxiety and stress, undermining the mental health of children and youth. Children’s advocates, including Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network and the University of Hawaiʻi Center on the Family, say these findings raise alarms and underscore the need for greater funding for mental health services, public education and social programs that support children and families.
“Compared to other states, Hawaiʻi ranks in the bottom third in the education domain,” said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, junior specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi Center on the 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 ahead so that we can provide this generation what they need to lead the state.”
One area in which Hawaiʻi fares particularly well is in children’s health, according to the Data Book. The state has the second-lowest death rate for children and teenagers and the fourth-highest percentage of children with health insurance.
“We know what works for keiki: providing quality, universal early care and learning, enacting paid family and sick leave, adopting student-centered budgeting, and ensuring economic security for families,” Zysman said. “Next year, the Legislature will have the opportunity to pass these priorities, putting children and families first and closing long-standing racial disparities.”
For more information, go the Hawaiʻi state profile at HCAN’s 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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National, State-by-State Data Show Depth of Mental Health Pandemic for Youth
by THE ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION, August 8, 2022
Children in America are in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels, according to the 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation with 50-state data on child well-being. The annual report focuses this year on youth mental health, concurring with a recent assessment by the U.S. surgeon general that current conditions amount to a youth mental health pandemic. The report sheds light on the health, economic and other challenges affecting American children.
The Data Book reports that children across America, and in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, were more likely to encounter anxiety or depression during the first year of the COVID-19 crisis than previously, with the national figure jumping 26%, from 9.4% among children ages 3–17 (5.8 million kids) to 11.8% (7.3 million) between 2016 and 2020, the year COVID-19 swept across the United States. This increase represents 1.5 million more children who are struggling to make it through the day.
DOWNLOAD THE 2022 KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK
“Mental health is just as important as physical health in a child’s ability to thrive,” says Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “As our nation continues to navigate the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, policymakers must do more to ensure all kids have access to the care and support they need to cope and live full lives.”
Children and youth have suffered trauma and tremendous loss over the past two and a half years. By July 2022, more than 1 million people in America had died from the novel coronavirus, including more than 1,600 children, and more than 200,000 kids had lost a parent or primary caregiver. And even as they experience COVID-era mental health challenges, many children have contended with conditions that made life harder well before 2020.
Racial and ethnic disparities contribute to disproportionately troubling mental health and wellness conditions among children of color. Nine percent of high-schoolers overall but 12% of Black students, 13% of students of two or more races and 26% of American Indian or Native Alaskan high-schoolers attempted suicide in the year prior to the most recent federal survey. Further, many LGBTQ young people are encountering challenges as they seek mental health support. Among heterosexual high school students of all races and ethnicities, 6% attempted suicide; the share was 23% for gay, lesbian or bisexual students.
Economic uncertainty has had an outsized effect on children and families experiencing financial challenges, leading to increased anxiety and stress for many. Children in poverty, whose parents lack secure employment and children in households with high housing cost burdens feel the weight of their family’s economic stress. Children who live in under-resourced communities may experience additional stress from safety and security concerns. The report finds:
- 17% of children of all backgrounds live in poverty, but among African American and American Indian children, that proportion is close to a third, at 32% and 31% respectively.
- 27% of all children have parents lacking secure employment, but that number goes up to 44% and 41% for American Indian and African American children respectively.
- Latino children also face a higher burden in these two categories than their white counterparts.
- Uninsured children are less likely to have access to mental health services, preventing them from securing the help they need in times of crisis.
In December, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Encouragingly, there appears to be broad agreement on the need for action. The Casey Foundation calls for lawmakers to heed the surgeon general’s warning and respond by developing programs and policies to ease mental health burdens on children and their families. They urge policymakers to:
- Prioritize meeting kids’ basic needs. Youth who grow up in poverty are two to three times more likely to develop mental health conditions than their peers. Children need a solid foundation of nutritious food, stable housing and safe neighborhoods — and their families need financial stability — to foster positive mental health and wellness.
- Ensure every child has access to the mental health care they need, when and where they need it. Schools should increase the presence of social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals on staff and strive to meet the 250-to‑1 ratio of students to counselors recommended by the American School Counselor Association, and work with local health care providers and local and state governments to make additional federal resources available and coordinate treatment.
- Bolster mental health care that considers young people’s experiences and identities. It should be trauma-informed — designed to promote a child’s healing and emotional security — and culturally relevant to the child’s life. It should be informed by the latest evidence and research and should be geared toward early intervention, which can be especially important in the absence of a formal diagnosis of mental illness.
Each year, the Data Book presents national and state data from 16 indicators in four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community factors — and ranks the states according to how children are faring overall. The data in this year’s report are a mix of pre-pandemic and more recent figures and are the latest available. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Minnesota rank first, second and third in overall well-being in the 2022 Data Book; Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico ranked 48th, 49th and 50th.
“American policymakers must prioritize solutions that don’t leave anyone behind,” Hamilton says. “Children deserve to thrive regardless of their background or in which state they live.”
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OVERALL CHILD WELL-BEING IN HAWAII
In the 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, New England states hold two of the top three spots for overall child well-being. Massachusetts ranks first, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. Mississippi (48th), Louisiana (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states. A child’s chances of thriving depend not only on individual, family and community characteristics but also on the state in which she or he is born and raised. States vary in their wealth and other resources. Policy choices and investments also influence children’s chances for success.
ECONOMIC WELL-BEING IN HAWAII
To help children grow into prepared, productive adults, parents need jobs with family-sustaining pay, affordable housing and the ability to invest in their children’s future. When parents are unemployed or earn low wages, their access to resources to support their kids’ development is more limited, which can undermine their children’s health and prospects for success in school and beyond. The negative effects of poverty on kids can extend into their teenage years and young adulthood, as they are more likely to contend with issues such as teen pregnancy and failing to graduate from high school.
EDUCATION IN HAWAII
The early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for lifelong success. Establishing the conditions that promote educational achievement for children is critical, beginning with quality prenatal care and continuing through the early elementary years. With a strong and healthy beginning, children can more easily stay on track to remain in school and graduate on time, pursue postsecondary education and training and successfully transition to adulthood. Yet our country continues to have significant gaps in educational achievement by race and income along all age groups of child development. Closing these gaps will be key to ensuring the nation’s future workforce can compete on a global scale.
HEALTH IN HAWAII
Children’s good health is fundamental to their overall development, and ensuring kids are born healthy is the first step toward improving their life chances. Exposure to violence, family stress, inadequate housing, lack of preventive health care, poor nutrition, poverty and substance abuse undermine children’s health. Poor health in childhood affects other critical aspects of a child’s life, such as school readiness and attendance, and can have lasting consequences on their future health and well-being.
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY IN HAWAII
Children who live in nurturing families and supportive communities have stronger personal connections and higher academic achievement. Parents struggling with financial hardship have fewer resources available to foster their children’s development and are more prone to face severe stress and depression, which can interfere with effective parenting. These findings underscore the importance of two-generation approaches to ending poverty, which address the needs of parents and children at the same time so that both can succeed together. Where families live also matters. When communities are safe and have strong institutions, good schools and quality support services, families and their children are more likely to thrive.
Learn more in the 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book.