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.
Across our state, efforts to create more effective programs and practices that were responsive to girls needs were growing at that time, but there was no funding to evaluate or scale these efforts. Girls’ pathway into the juvenile justice system often originated with surviving abuse, especially sexual violence. However the data didn’t yet tell us what we now know: racialized, gender biased, pathways push girls out of school and into court involvement, that when a girl ends up court involved, there were multiple other systems and interventions that could potentially interrupt her court contact in the first place. 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?