Hawaii gets middling ranking when it comes to children's well-being

Hawaii gets middling ranking when it comes to children's well-being

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new national report ranks Hawaii 23rd in the nation for child well-being, noting that while the state has improved on child health and education indicators, it's seen childhood poverty worsen since 2008.

Compared to last year, Hawaii went up one spot in the rankings.

The annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is aimed at highlighting key economic, education, health and community indicators for children nationwide.

Minnesota and Massachusetts topped the rankings for overall child well-being. Mississippi came in last, trailed by New Mexico and Louisiana, respectively.

The report noted that Hawaii has improved on several key indicators: More high school students are graduating on time, there are fewer children without insurance, and alcohol and drug abuse among teens has gone down.

But there are several areas of concern, particularly when it comes to economic well-being.

The report notes that 15 percent of Hawaii children – or about 44,000 kids – lived in poverty in 2014, up from just 10 percent in 2008.

The number of children whose parents lack secure employment also increased, as did the percentage of teens who were not in school and not working.

Ivette Rodriguez Stern, of the University of Hawaii Center on the Family, said the increase in childhood poverty underscores the need for comprehensive programs aimed at helping kids succeed.

The poverty figures use the federal poverty guidelines, which do not take into account cost of living. A family of four in Hawaii is considered to be living in poverty in Hawaii if they bring in $27,950 or less.

"Who can live off of that in Hawaii?" Stern said. "A lot of families and children have been left behind. So what are we going to do poverty-wise?"

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