Hawaii Shows Improvement in National Rankings of Overall Child Well-Being

UH Manoa Center on the Family contributes to 2004 KIDS COUNT report that outlines Hawaii's progress and setbacks on 10 indicators of child well-being

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Jun 3, 2004

The 2004 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that Hawaiʻi ranks 20th among all states in the latest state-by-state comparison on the well-being of America‘s children, an improvement from last year‘s ranking of 22. Hawaiʻi Kids Count is a project of the Center on the Family at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Ranking in the top five overall were Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa and Utah, while South Carolina, Alabama, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi ranked the lowest, respectively. A state‘s overall ranking is determined by the sum of the state‘s standing on 10 measures of child well-being, arranged from highest/best (1) to lowest/worst (50).

Of particular interest highlighted in this year‘s KIDS COUNT report are important factors related to the successful transition from childhood to adulthood, including data about "disconnected youth." These are young adults ages 18 to 24 who are not working, have no degree beyond high school, and are not enrolled in school. An alarming 15 percent of young adults in Hawaiʻi fell into this category in 2002, mirroring that of the national figure. These approximately 15,000 "disconnected youth" in Hawaiʻi face a particularly tough transition to successful adulthood.

Marika Ripke, PhD, project director for Hawaiʻi Kids Count, states: "These data are warning signs that we need to pay closer attention to our youth. Many are already experiencing difficulty finding a productive role in society. They are not in school and not working. These ʻdisconnected youth‘ will find it hard to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood."

Overall, the 2004 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals that Hawaiʻi has improved on four of 10 measures of child well-being between 1996 and 2001, while experiencing setbacks on five measures, and remaining unchanged on one measure, child poverty.

Hawaiʻi has made some dramatic improvements in child well-being since 1996. Hawaiʻi showed a 24-percent improvement in the child death rate and a 13-percent improvement in the teen death rate from 1996 to 2001. Hawaiʻi‘s teen birth rate improved by 26 percent during this five-year period. The percentage of children living in a family where no parent has a full-time, year-round job decreased by 10 percent, although Hawaiʻi continues to rank unfavorably on this indicator when compared to other states at 38th in the nation.

Despite these improvements, Hawaiʻi has experienced setbacks on several critical indicators. The most significant setback is the 40-percent increase in teen dropouts from 1996 to 2000. However, when compared to other states, Hawaiʻi continues to rank favorably on this measure at 7th in the nation. Another setback is the 11-percent increase in teens ages 16-19 who were not attending school and not working from 1996 to 2001, another indicator on which Hawaiʻi ranks unfavorably at 32nd in the nation.

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. The 2004 KIDS COUNT Data Book can be accessed online at the UH Mānoa Center on the Family‘s website at http://uhfamily.hawaii.edu/hawaii_kids_count/kids_count.asp.

The goal of Hawaiʻi Kids Count is to improve the well-being of Hawaiʻi‘s children and their families by increasing public awareness of their conditions and serving as a catalyst for positive actions on their behalf. KIDS COUNT data are often used by advocates and organizations whose goal is to share information about and improve the conditions of Hawaiʻi‘s children and families.

Recently, 43 "community profiles" were developed using data from Hawaiʻi Kids Count. These profiles provide an overview of Hawaiʻi‘s 43 communities (as defined by school complexes) on such indicators as economic security *(see http://uhfamily.hawaii.edu/publications/43Profiles/Index.asp). Data from Hawaiʻi Kids Count are also currently being used to develop a "State of Caring" report for Aloha United Way.

Hawaiʻi Kids Count is a project of the Center on the Family, a unit within the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The mission of the Center on the Family is to enhance interdisciplinary research, service and education that supports and strengthens families. The center works closely with colleagues across disciplinary fields at UH Mānoa and other academic institutions, and also collaborates on projects with nonprofit and community organizations, governmental agencies, and private businesses.

For more information, visit: http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/databook2004