Girls Court

Washington’s 1st Gender-Responsive Court Program

Over the last two decades, the number of girls arrested, detained, and placed on probation has dramatically increased in Washington State and across the nation. CCYJ has been monitoring and studying this concerning trend and the emergence of responses to best address this vulnerable population. Like most, we have found that girls in the juvenile justice system are different from boys — in their histories, offenses, pathways, experiences, and outcomes. Our research concludes that:

  • Compared to boys, more girls enter the juvenile justice system for low level and status offenses;
  • Girls have greater mental health needs and trauma indicators than boys; and
  • Girls in the system whose treatment needs go unmet are at high risk for juvenile recidivism, involvement in the child welfare system as parents, and entry in adult prison systems.

But, today’s juvenile justice system and its interventions have been designed for and tested on boys. Even though ample research shows that the most successful responses to girls are not the same ones used for boys, the reality is that this critical information is not finding its way into the courtrooms where girls are processed.

In response to this research, CCYJ has initiated the development Girls Court. CCYJ’s Girls Court project will design the state’s first court-led intervention model for girls, based on best practice research, driven by local data, and rooted in gender-responsive principles. Girls Court is the vehicle to bring research and practice together, and ensure that girls in our state’s juvenile justice system receive services designed to help them reach their full potential.

What We’re Doing:

  • The Kitsap County Girls Court pilot program will be launched in the Spring of 2019. In partnership with Kitsap County, CCYJ’s Girls Court team provides technical assistance and development, implementation, and evaluation support to the pilot project’s staff and stakeholders.
  • We are working to identify additional pilot sites for future Girls Court program expansion.
  • We have completed a Girls Court Literature Review detailing differences between girls and boys, and assessing effective gender-specific responses for girls.
  • We have established a multi-disciplinary Advisory Committee to guide development of a model blueprint, oversee implementation, and monitor outcomes of the pilot projects.
  • We have engaged a national technical assistance provider to help guide pilot development.

To learn more about how you can support our efforts to help improve outcomes for girls in the juvenile justice system, please contact CCYJ’s Girls Court Project Manager, Melanie Nadon at 206.696.7503 x: 21 or email mnadon@ccyj.org.