2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals impact of recession on Hawai'i children

UH Manoa Center on the Family leaders share observations

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Aug 17, 2011

According to data released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in its 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Hawai‘i ranks 26th in key indicators of child health and well-being.
The 2011 Data Book highlights children in Hawai‘i have experienced:
  • Improvements in the infant mortality rate, the teen death rate, and the teen birth rate since 2000.
  • A worsening in the percentage of low-birthweight babies, the child death rate, the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates, the percentage of children in poverty, and the percentage of children in single-parent families since 2000.
  • Comparable data going back to 2000 were not available for the percentage of teens not attending school and not working, and the percentage of children living in families in which no parent has full-time, year-round employment.  However, both indicators worsened between 2008 and 2009.
The Center on the Family at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa serves as the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate.  Said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, Director of Hawai‘i KIDS COUNT, “The good news is that, over the past decade, Hawai‘i has shown improvement in the infant mortality rate, the teen death rate and the teen birth rate. In addition, while the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates—the dropout rate—has worsened when compared with 2000 data, there was slight improvement between 2008 and 2009.  So, hopefully, we’ve turned the corner.”
“Of concern, however, is Hawai‘i’s overall rank—a composite index of child-well being.  Hawai‘i continues to slip in rank, going from 11 in the mid-2000s to 26 based on the most recent data.”
In acknowledging this trend, Director of the Center on the Family Grace Fong commented, “While there are many complex factors that have contributed to this decline over the past several years, this downward trend cannot be ignored. The investments we make in our children now are investments we make in our state’s future.” 
According to data in the 22nd annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, the economic and social gains for children that occurred across the 1990s stalled, even before the economic downturn began. This year’s Data Book reports an 18 percent increase in the U.S. child poverty rate between 2000 and 2009. This increase means that 2.5 million more American children are living below the federal poverty line ($21,756 for a family of two adults and two children) and effectively wiping out the gains made on this important measure in the late 1990’s.
In an ongoing effort to track the impact of the recession, there are two new indicators in this year’s data set—the number of children impacted by foreclosure and households with at least one unemployed parent. In Hawai‘i, 14,000 or 3% of the state’s children were impacted by foreclosure since 2007.  In 2010, an estimated 25,000 or 10% of children in this state lived in households where there was at least one parent who was eligible for and or seeking employment, but was unemployed at the time the data were collected. 
According to Stern, “While the foreclosure rate and the unemployment rate in Hawai‘i may be declining from the peaks seen in 2009 and 2010, these data show that many children in our state are living in families that continue to face economic insecurity.  In addition, between 2007 and 2009, the state’s child poverty rate increased after a period of decline preceding the recession.  Research tells us that there is a link between family income and economic stability, and children’s academic achievement and later success.  As we recover from the recent recession, we must remain focused on efforts that help parents put their families on a path to economic stability as well as efforts that enhance children’s well-being.”
In addition to the 10 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. Visit the new mobile site being launched in conjunction with this year’s Data Book from a smartphone, such as the Droid, BlackBerry or iPhone.   
The KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings and supplemental data may be viewed at: http://datacenter.kidscount.org.  For interactive Hawai‘i KIDS COUNT data, visit http://datacenter.kidscount.org/hi.   Follow the Annie E. Casey Foundation and this issue on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT