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Incarcerated girls are not “statistically insignificant” 
According to a new findings from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, girls accounted for fewer than a third of all youth arrests in 2015. While this constitutes the sharpest decline in girls’ arrests in three decades, the girls in the system are still disproportionately girls of color (54% of cases involved girls of color in 2015.) Similarly in New Jersey, there are now nine girls incarcerated, compared to 25 in 2011, however, “a black child is 30 times more likely to be detained or committed than a white child, even though they commit most offenses at similar rates.” As Marie Williams says in an op-ed for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: “The issue of girls and women in the juvenile and criminal justice systems is not simply one about how many, but about who and how they are served — or not — in these systems.”

Although the OJJDP’s National Girls Initiative is closed, National Crittenton is continuing the work through the Advancing a Continuum of Care: Engagement, Supports, and Services for Girls (ACCESS) project. This project seeks to assist states, counties, and local communities that have demonstrated a commitment to decreasing reliance on or ending the incarceration of girls by building and supporting a continuum of community-based supports and services designed to address the specific needs of girls at risk of moving deeper into the juvenile justice system and their families. Currently, the National Crittenton ACCESS team is working with Kansas, Wisconsin, and Vermont state officials to examine existing programs, policies, and practices that act as drivers of girls into the system. The project is funded by a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation.

The House Appropriations Committee released the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Funding Bill for fiscal year 2020, which includes $5 million in funding to prevent the trafficking of girls and $2 million for competitive grants focused on girls in the juvenile justice system. The bill also includes $20 million in funding for a grant program “to advocate for and respond to youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.”

“Systems of “justice” are not set up to recognize transgender and Native youth correctly, because the goal is always to make Native youth invisible/assimilated and to make trans youth normative”: Krista Benson, PhD writes on the misgendering of Native youth in the Washington state juvenile justice system in an article for the Journal of Homosexuality. The National PREA Resource Center released its model policy for transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex youth in confinement facilities. The model policy includes recommendations from intake to re-entry and a sample SOGIE questionnaire.

In Maine: a new state task force will “examine the state’s juvenile justice system and develop recommendations for a continuum of care” for system-involved and at-risk youth. Maine youth advocates and communities also launched the Maine Youth Justice Campaign, to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports and services. In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County is working on closing youth prisons and enhancing community-based alternatives. First time youth offenders in Virginia are eligible for a diversion program that centers victims and allows youth to acknowledge their involvement and find ways to repair harm through victim-centered agreements, and the agreements are showing promising results. In Philadelphia, a Youth Residential Placement task force was created to reduce the numbers of youth in residential placement and ensure that youth are not placed outside of city limits. Building on their youth justice reform bill of 2017, Utah lawmakers passed HB 404 to help youth stay in their homes by making sure re-investment dollars go only to non-residential, evidence-based programs.

Oklahoma state is strategizing on ways to remove youth from adult jails by 2021, in compliance with the 2018 reauthorization of the JJDPA. A California court continues to uphold a state law that keeps youth under the age of 16 from entering the adult system, despite challenges from multiple counties across the state. The Oregon legislature passed SB 1008, which keeps youth 15 years of age and older from automatically being tried as adults for major crimes and ensures young folks are not sentenced to life without parole.

In Tennessee, state and local measures are being used to reduce disproportionate minority contact across all stages of juvenile justice system involvement. This includes changes to “delinquent and unruly petitions” filed by school officials for events that take place on school grounds, eliminating the issuing of arrest warrants for violations of conditions or limitations of probation, and the use of DMC reduction curriculums in local communities. In New York, a new law will consider a woman’s history of domestic violence as a factor in sentencing and will allow incarcerated women to apply for reconsideration retroactively.

The number of incarcerated girls is continuing to fall, but Vera aims to get to zero.” The Vera Institute of Justice Initiative to End the Incarceration of Girls aims to achieve that goal by 2029, laying out a 10-year-plan that includes: “working with states that have the highest rates of girls’ incarceration, learning from states with low incarceration rates, and devising new plans and models to build a network primed for change.”

The National Juvenile Justice network released a report of youth justice advances by member organizations in 2018, including progress in 17 states across various areas of system involvement.

“It’s like the Wild West…K-12 schools are light years behind colleges.” Of the 652 complaints of Title IX violations relating to sexual harassment and abuse currently under investigation at the Education Department, 279 are against K-12 schools – a reality that could be made worse under new federal rules that enhance protections for the accused and take responsibility away from educational institutions. We have already seen this play out across the country: In Boston, no contact orders on campuses ban victims of sexual abuse and harassment from certain areas of school and “threaten them with discipline if they don’t stay away from their accused abusers.” In New York, Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios died by suicide after enduring months of ongoing bullying and being sexually abused on school grounds the day of her passing – information which she disclosed to school officials who did not address it or notify her parents. Her parents are now suing the city, school administrators, and the Education Department.

In a piece for Essence, Joanne Smith of Girls for Gender Equity, writes on the need to include young people in #MeToo: “When we fail to protect our young people, when we blame them for the harm they experience or tell them that there is no hope for eradicating those harms, we send a very clear message about how they are valued by the world around them and how they should value themselves.”

“We’re talking about dating violence, sexual assault, relationships, #MeToo — all of those things.” Many states are struggling with whether or not to update their sexual education curriculums and requirements to include topics like consent and gender identity. Only 10 states and the District of Columbia require that consent be taught in schools. A hotly contested draft framework for sex ed in California groups discussion subjects by grade, including lessons on gender identity, sexual feelings, consent and sexual abuse, and contraception and healthy relationships, including advice for LGBTQ students.

In two pieces for USA Today, reporter Monica Rhor writes on the criminalization of black girls in schools through the lens of two stories: Itivere Enaohwo, who frequently got into trouble in school for dress code violations, and C’alra Bradley whose homelessness led her to juvenile justice system involvement. Following up on the results of their “Girlhood Interrupted” report, which found that adults perceive black girls to be less innocent and less needing of protection than their white peers, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality found that black girls routinely experience adultification bias in their daily lives. To continue to share the impacts of adultification bias, the Center is asking people to share their stories through a new storytelling portal,

In an effort to assess a student’s socioeconomic status for college admissions officers, the SAT will now feature an “adversity score” based on 15 factors that include crime rates and poverty levels. Students will not know their scores, but the information will be passed on to college admissions officers.

Safety and Health
#SayHerName: 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was murdered weeks after being brutally assaulted in Dallas, Texas. “As a transgender woman who is black, Booker belonged to a group that is disproportionately likely to experience a violent attack.” The news comes just days after the release of a new report from Southerners on the Ground and Transgender Law Center, Grapevine: A Southern Trans Report. Among the findings: 47% of transgender people in living in 13 southern states (including Texas) reported “high levels of violence by strangers” and 58% of trans women and femmes reported experiencing high levels of violence by strangers.

The Equality Act of 2019, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections from discrimination for LGBT people in both the public and private sector, was passed in the House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely that the Senate will follow suit. Going “above and beyond legal precedent,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a “freedom of moral conscience” stipulation for health care providers in its final published rule, saying health care providers may refuse to provide care based on their religious beliefs or “moral conviction.” “This open-ended standard is not a mistake, however. It is an intentional creation of a wide-open legal standard that allows any provider to deny care on nearly any personal basis.” The Trump administration is also seeking to roll back protections for transgender medical patients under section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, by failing to “recognize gender identity as an avenue for sex discrimination.”

A new study featured in JAMA Pediatrics found that girls constituted 90% of young people age 11-18 killed by an intimate partner, between 2003 and 2016 – with most incidents involving a firearm and “broken relationships or jealousy.” Tenaj, a 24-year-old survivor of domestic violence who founded a domestic violence awareness organization while in college, shares her experience and the importance of recognizing the signs. “I survived a 3-year abusive relationship with a boyfriend in high school. I didn’t even know I was considered a victim, because I had started to normalize his behaviors.”

New research from Rutgers University – Camden scholar, Nancy Pontes, finds that girls get bullied more often than boys and that they are more likely consider, plan, or attempt suicide as a result. Research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital also found that girls are experiencing “a greater percent increase in suicide rates compared to boys.” In Southwest Florida, this reality is compounded by an overburdened system, lack of funding, and shortage of psychiatrists that result in delays of resources and support. One 16-year-old teen and her parents had to wait three days and travel 100 miles before a spot opened up at an emergency mental health center.

“Just holding a beer bottle increased perceptions of intoxication and sexual availability for women, but not for men.” A new study from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University, finds that women who drink alcohol in social settings are seen as more “sexually available” and “less human.”

In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law to combat the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls by “strengthening communication between the state’s police agency, federal government offices and Native communities.” At the federal level, the Not Invisible Act of 2019 would establish an advisory committee on violent crime and create an “expert” position within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to address the epidemic, if passed.

Reproductive Justice
Across the country, a woman’s right to choose is under attack. Gov. Mike Parson signed Missouri’s anti-choice bill, which criminalizes abortion at 8 weeks with providers facing up to 15 years in prison for providing abortion care. Despite this, the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis will remain open thanks to a temporary restraining order granted by Judge Michael Steltzer “while the clinic resolves issues with the state’s medically unnecessary regulations.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed HB 314 into law, making abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses. Texas SB 1033 would remove the exemption allowing abortion after 20 weeks when there is severe fetal abnormality and prohibits so called “discriminatory abortion.” A Supreme Court appeal to reinstate a similar bill in Indiana was turned down. However, a second part of the law, requiring that fetal remains be buried or cremated by providers, was upheld. “The ruling keeps abortion off the Supreme Court’s docket for now, and the compromise indicates that the court may be biding its time to tackle a major abortion case.” While having nothing to do with abortion, the Supreme Court ruling in Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt says a lot about the Court’s respect for precedent – “that should raise alarm bells about Roe.”

“What I have yet to see in a single line in any of these new abortion bills — Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Utah, Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas — is accountability or penalties for the impregnators,” writes Teri Carter in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

In response to the issue of “fake” abortion clinics, Google will now require advertisers planning to run abortion services ads to get certified as abortion providers or non-abortion providers. As of this month, all abortion ads will include a disclosure identifying the advertiser as a provider or non-provider. Despite the onslaught of anti-choice bills making their way through state legislatures, grassroots funds like the Yellowhammer Fund are working to ensure that those who need an abortion still have access. As the fight continues, it’s worth noting that these six corporations have contributed to the passage of these anti-choice laws, and that Teen Vogue published some ways that you can help keep abortion legal.

A new report from the Summit Foundation, Young People Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health: Toward a New Normal, “documents the multiple benefits of meaningful youth participation and leadership in sexual health and rights (SRHR) programs.” A new Yale Policy Lab will address cycles of poverty by focusing on the mental health needs of pregnant and parenting women.

“Why they seem to be choosing pregnant asylum seekers as their sacrificial lambs for the zero-tolerance policy, I can’t say.” A three-part series on the treatment of pregnant migrants from Rewire.News finds that pregnant women are held in federal custody with the U.S. Marshall Service in Texas, often facing negligent care; detained pregnant migrants are routinely shackled while receiving care; and some are even separated from the newborns, who are given over to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, before being sent back to detention.

Child Welfare
“Without this piece of legislation that we introduced today, the benefits expected from the bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act will either not be fully realized or not realized in a timely way.” The Family First Transition and Support Act of 2019 is intended to ease the transition into the Family First Prevention Services Act for states by doing away with the foster care income test. “The Nebraska Division of Children and Family Services issued two requests for qualifications for potential providers of services under the Family First Prevention Services Act.” The requests deal with the most common circumstances that result in child welfare involvement, including substance abuse, mental health, and lack of parenting skills.

“I didn’t know that I could actually be arrested for not returning to a foster home,” said Christina Young, who was arrested at school when she was 15 after not returning to her foster home in three days. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled that child welfare systems cannot ask law enforcement to arrest runaway foster youth to return them to placements.

In Oregon, a lawsuit against the department of human services alleges that child welfare officials ignored years of problematic behavior and warnings when they placed a 13-year-old boy with a history of abusing younger children in a crowded foster home with two young sisters. Deaths of children who had been subjects of abuse investigations, slow contact with alleged victims and perpetrators, and slow moving investigations are just some of the failures of the state child welfare system highlighted in a new report from the Illinois auditor general. In Kansas, foster children are often spending the night in the offices of foster care contractors due to a lack of foster homes.

In Oklahoma, the nonprofit Circle of Care is building eight different homes across the state to serve sibling groups in foster care by providing free housing to foster parents committed to keeping siblings together. “If somebody doesn’t reach them, a lot of them will become homeless. They have nowhere to go,” In Mississippi, First Place for Youth and the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services’ “youth transition support services” are working to help foster youth transition out of care and into college.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 would grant citizenship to thousands of foreign-born adoptees who are not American citizens because their parents failed to fill out a form at the time of their adoption.


  • The National Center for Youth Law is hiring a Program Associate for its Collaborative Responses to Commercial Sexual Exploitation Initiative
  • Maine Youth Justice is hiring a Campaign Director to lead its Maine Youth Justice campaign
  • The National Juvenile Justice Network is hiring an Executive Director. Deadline to apply is June 21, 2019
  • The Black Girls Matter Miami Coalition is now accepting applications for the Freedom Summer Institute for girls, femmes, gender nonconforming and gender nonbinary teen youth of color





“I think that adults in general need to be reminded that black young girls are still kids.”

Source: Anonymous, Listening to Black Women and Girls: Lived Experiences of Adultification Bias report, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality

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