HONOLULU (KHON2) — An annual report comparing keiki in Hawaii with the rest of the nation shows them in the bottom third when it comes to economic wellbeing and education.

Hawaii Children’s Action Network explained why Hawaii is struggling in these areas. The Director of Research & Economic Policy, Nicole Woo said “we had some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and, you know, that stresses out families and children.

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Woo also stated, “We know if there’s economic instability, housing instability, that contributes to mental stresses, depression, anxiety and it affects children’s academic achievements as well.”

She said the 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book is hard evidence that Hawaii took a hard hit during the pandemic as 72% of Hawaii eighth graders scored below proficient math levels and 111,000 children lived in families that spent more than 30% of their income on housing, which is considered a high-cost burden.

With this evidence, she said it is a perfect time to release the report as school just started.

“This book helps emphasize the need to not just make sure our students catch up academically but to make sure were looking out for their mental health,” said Woo.

She mentioned these numbers could get worse in the next report because of inflation, but we have a chance to try and make sure things improve.

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Woo said as elections are in the fall and it is “a great time to talk to candidates about keiki and children and youth and asking them what they’re going to do to take care of our keiki.”