Hawaiʻi ranks 17th for child well-being before pandemic; families now hit hard by crisis

How are Hawaiʻi’s children doing compared to the rest of the nation?

According to the 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Hawaiʻi ranks 17th out of 50 states on overall child well-being.

The data book, released on June 22, 2020, evaluates children’s well-being in several categories: economic, education, health, and family and communities. Hawaiʻi ranks 25th in the nation for child economic well-being; a major concern is that 35% of children live in households with a high housing cost burden. Now in this state of pandemic, this burden only weighs heavier on families who have lost their employment income.

The 2020 Data Book ranks Hawaiʻi 7th for children’s health and 12th for family and community measures. In education, Hawaiʻi ranks much lower, at 35th. The data shows that 53% of children between the ages of 3 and 4 are not in school, which is worse than the national average. This only emphasizes the need for improvement in the state’s early education system. Before the pandemic, for each DHS-regulated child care seat, there were four children under the age of six competing for it[1]. Without a greater investment to allow every child the opportunity to enroll in high-quality early education, Hawaiʻi will continue to rank low in child education indicators.

The 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book analyzes data from 2018, so it shows how children in Hawaiʻi were doing pre-pandemic. Now, families and keiki are especially vulnerable and many more are struggling due to the economic damage caused by coronavirus.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey provides nearly real-time data on how people’s lives have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa’s Center on the Family organized the data from the June Household Pulse Survey into an info-graphic that highlights Hawaiʻi’s current economic impacts like income loss, difficulty paying rent or mortgage, food scarcity, and delayed medical care.

The survey shows that 56% of households in Hawaiʻi have lost some or all of their employment income since March. This is higher than the national average of 48% and shows that families in Hawaiʻi need help immediately. Below are some articles discussing the national results of the Household Pulse Surveys and the challenges facing families and children all across the country.




Census Bureau’s real-time surveys assess impact of pandemic – The Washington Post, May 27, 2020


The Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that nationwide, adults with children have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey shows that among households with children under the age of 18, 55% had at least one adult lose their job due to the pandemic. Adults not living with children were more likely to say their loss of employment was temporary, such as through furloughs.

Households with children were also more likely to report that they did not have enough to eat or may not be able to pay their rent or mortgage. In May, Hawaiʻi was in the top 5 states with the highest percentage of households who lost employment income.

Five federal agencies worked together to develop this survey to help policymakers, scholars and others decide on pandemic-related policy.


How are Americans really spending stimulus checks? – Forbes, June 25, 2020


The June Household Pulse Survey indicates how Americans spent their stimulus checks, which will be useful for lawmakers in making future decisions. Out of the 249 million households, 59% used their stimulus checks for expenses, 13% used them to pay off debt, and 12% used them for savings.

Those that used their checks for expenses mostly used them for housing-related needs like rent, mortgages, and utilities. Checks used to pay down debt mainly went toward paying down credit cards and student loans.

Overall, poorer households were more likely to use their stimulus checks on day-to-day expenses, showing that most Americans put their checks toward their greatest needs. When households were asked if they used their stimulus check in the last week, over 25% reported yes. This suggests that the stimulus checks continue to be essential for households in financial need during the pandemic.


[1] Committee for Economic Development. 2019. Childcare in State Economies, Hawaiʻi. https://www.ced.org/assets/reports/childcareimpact/fact_sheets/revised/Hawaii%20Fact%20Sheet%201312019.pdf

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