Vision Children are safe, healthy and ready to succeed in school.

Recent research strongly emphasizes the importance of the early years in child development.  When young children live in poverty, they have a substantially reduced opportunity to have the nutritional resources, and cognitive, social and verbal stimulation necessary for optimal development.  Education studies confirm that, on average, students living in poverty enter kindergarten and 1st grade already behind their peers.  Reducing the impact of poverty on young children is an essential strategy for improving health for the next generation. Increasing access to high quality affordable child care and quality preschool can help reduce the impact of poverty on children.

Hawaii County has more Children Living in Poverty

Nearly one in four Hawaii County children under 18 years old were estimated to be living in poverty, by the American Community Survey, 2010.  According to the U.S. Census, ACS (2010) 25.0% of children under 18 years old in Hawaii County lived in poverty, compared to less than 11.0% in the City and County of Honolulu and 13.9% for the State (chart).

North Hawaii 3rd Grade Reading Below State Average

Photo courtesy of Tim Rice

Since educational attainment is correlated with health and with adult success, reading proficiency is a relevant indicator. Data from the Department of Education website on 3rd grade reading proficiency (chart) and math proficiency (chart) shows that reading proficiency of students in North Hawaii public schools was generally lower than the state average, except for Waikoloa Elementary school in 2010, which was higher.

Implication: Improving  the health of the people in North Hawaii and Hawaii County will require mobilizing resources to support children to have reading skills by grade four, graduate from high school and complete at least a 13th year of school.

Hawaii County has Higher Rate of Confirmed Child Abuse and Neglect Compared to Other Neighbor Islands

The rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in Hawaii County is higher than in the counties of Maui and Kauai (chart). However, both the rate and number (chart) appear to be declining.  Further analysis is needed.

Hawaii County East Districts have Higher Average Number  Confirmed Child Abuse and Neglect

During 2006 – 2010, the South Hilo and Puna districts within Hawaii County had a higher average number of confirmed reports, compared to all of the other Hawaii County districts (chart).

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