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Report: Economy Hurting HI Kids' Well-Being

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023   

Hawaii's children live in economically stressed homes and it is affecting their well-being, according to a new report.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 25th overall. The ranking is based on four indicators: economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

Kathleen Gauci, project coordinator for the Center on the Family at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the average cost for center based child care in the state is $14,000, which is about 12% of the average couple's income.

"It's even higher than the current in-state tuition of $11,304 at the University of Hawaii," Gauci pointed out.

The state ranks 44th in the report's economic indicator. However, it fares much better in health, at 13th, and the family and community category, at eighth.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the economic well-being of the family is incredibly important to the overall health and well-being of children.

"During the pandemic you saw children talk about the anxiety and the stress that they were feeling when they were feeling food insecure," Boissiere observed. "They didn't have enough to eat, their parents were stressed about how they were going to pay their rent and their mortgage."

Gauci noted Hawaii's affordable housing crisis is among the worst in the country and it is affecting children's well-being.

"Growing up in economic hardship can have harmful lifelong effects on the well-being of our children," Gauci emphasized. "Although important tax credits for low and moderate income families were recently expanded, these data speak to the need to do much more to support Hawaii's working families."

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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