Hawaii improves to 11th in the nation in annual rankings of child well-being

Hawaii ranks first for lowest rates of high school dropouts and teen deaths in 2007 KIDS COUNT report outlining progress and setbacks on 10 indicators of well-b

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jul 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Hawaiʻi 11th among all states according to its latest state-by-state comparison of the well-being of America‘s children, an improvement from last year‘s ranking of 21st in the nation. The 2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book also reveals that Hawaiʻi ranks in the top 10 nationally in four of 10 measures reflecting child well-being, including being tops in the nation for the lowest rates of high school dropouts and teen deaths.

Overall, Hawaiʻi has improved on six of the 10 measures, experienced setbacks on three measures, and saw no change on one measure since 2000. In addition to the state-by-state comparisons on child well-being, included in the report is the 2007 KIDS COUNT Essay, which discusses the need for all children in foster care to develop strong, lasting family connections.

Of the six indicators of child well-being that Hawaiʻi has made significant progress on since 2000, Hawaiʻi ranks No. 1 nationwide for its teen death rate. Hawaiʻi has the lowest death rate of teens, ages 15-19, at 40 deaths per 100,000 teens. Nationally, the teen death rate is 66 deaths per 100,000 teens.

Hawaiʻi also ranks best in the nation for its high school drop out rate. The percentage of Hawaiʻi teens ages 16-19 who are high school dropouts improved by 40 percent from 2000 to 2005, dropping from 5 percent to 3 percent. The national drop out rate also improved from 2000 to 2005, falling from 11 percent to 7 percent.

Similarly and on another measure, the percent of Hawaiʻi teens, ages 16-19, who were not attending school or working significantly decreased from 2000 to 2005. In 2000, 10 percent of Hawaiʻi‘s teens were neither in school nor working; this rate dropped to 8 percent by 2005, a 20 percent improvement.

Two other notable improvements include a 30 percent decrease in infant mortality and a 22 percent decrease in teen births, ages 15 to 19, from 2000 to 2004. Hawaiʻi‘s infant mortality rates significantly decreased from 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 5.7 deaths in 2004. Hawaiʻi‘s teen birth rate significantly decreased from 46 births per 1,000 females in 2000 to 36 births in 2004.

Despite these significant improvements, Hawaiʻi‘s performance declined for three indicators. The most significant setback occurred for Hawaiʻi‘s child death rate, ages 1 to 14,. Hawaiʻi has experienced a 40 percent increase since 2000—from 15 deaths per 100,000 children in 2000 to 21 deaths per 100,000 children in 2004, which is just slightly above the national rate of 20 deaths per 100,000 children. This puts Hawaiʻi‘s ranking for this measure at 20th in the nation.

Marika Ripke, PhD, project director for Hawaiʻi Kids Count, states: "This increase in child deaths is, to a large extent, the result of an increase in traffic-related fatalities. We need to do more to ensure that our roads are safe for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike."

The 2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book‘s essay, "Lifelong Family Connections for Children in the Child Welfare System," focuses on the importance of developing strong, lasting family connections for all children. The essay also sets an ambitious national goal—to preserve, strengthen, rebuild, or find permanent families for every American child who is at risk of not having such a family. In 2004, there were 17 children per 100,000 children in Hawaiʻi under age 18 living in foster care, significantly higher than the national foster care rate of 10 per 100,000 children.

The 2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book can be accessed online at the Hawaiʻi Kids Count Web site at www.uhfamily.hawaii.edu or at the national KIDS COUNT website, www.kidscount.org .

KIDS COUNT is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The findings and conclusions presented are those of Hawaiʻi Kids Count and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.

For more information, visit: http://www.kidscount.org