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The heart of JfG

The Coalition formed a decade ago when advocates, academics, policy-makers and groups working with girls saw a need to improve court services for girls in our state. We became a 501c3 non-profit in 2015. Helping girls grow and thrive is at the heart of our mission.

 

Who We Are

We are a non-profit organization with members from across Washington state. The Coalition formed roughly a decade ago. Back then, a small group of advocates, academics and court administrators from across the state were asked to testify in Olympia on trends in the treatment of girls specifically in the juvenile justice system. In 2016, with the support of a federal National Girls Innovation grant, we gained 501c3 status, formed a board and expanded our scope to include advocacy and training across multiple systems including school, mental health, health, housing, child welfare, and juvenile justice.  

Why Girls*

Centering systems change on girls is at the heart of why the Coalition formed roughly a decade ago. Back then, a small group of advocates, academics and court administrators from across the state were asked to testify in Olympia on trends in the treatment of girls specifically in the juvenile justice system.  A powerful post-testimony takeaway was that we didn’t really know what the trends were.  

Girls’ pathway into the juvenile justice system often originate with surviving abuse, especially sexual violence. Racialized, gender biased pathways push girls out of school and into court involvement. When a girl ends up court involved, there are usually multiple other systems with whom she’s had contact, where interventions could potentially interrupt court contact in the first place. Efforts to create more effective programs and practices that are responsive to girls’ needs are growing, but we need more funding to evaluate and scale these efforts.  

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 We know more now, and we are poised to do more. Here are the bigger questions we ask:

How do we center girls who are marginalized by violence, poverty and racism and work across systems and sectors to address the root causes of the complex issues they confront?  

How can we engage girls as drivers of the policies, programs and practices that they are directly impacted by?

How We Work

Our strategies for creating change include:

Advocacy and Training are the levers we use to address the root causes for why girls get pushed out of opportunity and into system involvement.

  • Spotlight – use data and best practices to drive change

  • Convene – bring people together to organize across sectors and systems

  • Pilot -Integrate best practices and model policies into existing systems and services

An area of growth for us is our statewide advocacy efforts.  

Our most vulnerable girls – those who face poverty, sexual abuse and/or violence at home – are increasingly entering the state’s juvenile justice system, where they do not receive the gender-responsive services that research shows can best meet their significant needs. This trend is unlikely to change until, as a community, we address root economic inequities and violence in tandem with court reform. When girls are trapped in poverty and abusive situations, this can lead to court involvement. When they lack access to high-quality, girl-focused programs, cycles of recidivism are more likely. We also believe this approach will not only change the trajectory for our most vulnerable girls; it will help ensure that all girls can thrive – an imperative for our state.

We use data to increase the visibility of the coalition with other girl-focused efforts in the state, leveraging relationships and interested stakeholders. 

Our Coalition is currently reviewing reforms that could address the following areas:

  • Warrants and detention stays for running away 

  • Detention stays for probation violations, particularly those related to no contact orders 

  • Custody arrests for domestic violence and detention booking policies 

  • Funding for truancy and at-risk youth programming to prevent justice-involvement 

Where We Work

Our work, over the long term, contributes toward a world where girls and young women are no longer criminalized for the trauma they have experienced, where we address the root causes – poverty, violence, racism and sexism – at the heart of the complex issues girls confront, and where we engage girls as drivers of the policies, programs and practices directly impact them.

Instead of jailing girls for truancy, running away and other non-violent offenses, shape better policies and transformational community-based services to address their needs. 


Instead of punishing girls for behavior that is the natural result of chaotic social contexts, train professionals working in systems such as schools, law enforcement and courts to respond supportively to girls in need.

Instead of speaking on behalf of girls, build a Girls Advocacy Program to ensure girls are equipped to testify and train alongside Coalition staff, board and members.


*female identified youth