To better meet the needs of at-risk and delinquent girls, their families, and the agencies and organizations that serve them, OJJDP established the National Girls Institute in 2010 as a national clearinghouse for information and as a training and technical assistance center for gender-specific programming. Created in partnership with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the institute offers training and technical assistance in program development and evaluation, effective decisionmaking, assessment instruments, leadership coaching, program monitoring and tracking, community collaborations, fundraising, and numerous other areas.
Research and practice over the last two decades, including comprehensive studies conducted by OJJDP's Girls Study Group, has helped to advance understanding of girls' delinquency and the risk and protective factors that are specific to girls. Now, the juvenile justice field is poised to take the next critical steptranslating knowledge into practical strategies to improve outcomes for girls. The National Girls Institute will play a significant role in this translation by developing national standards of practice for those who work with at-risk and delinquent girls and continuing to offer training and technical assistance.
The institute's newly launched Web site provides a wealth of resources for service providers, including tools for assessing the suitability of interventions for girls as well as information about grant proposal writing, funding sources, gender-responsive curriculums, and training and technical assistance. The Web site also features a section for families that includes information about the juvenile justice system, crisis hotlines, and resources for learning more about promoting healthy lifestyles in youth through sex education, drug awareness, and structured prosocial activities.
OJJDP Acting Administrator
A section of the Web site entitled "I'm a Girl" offers girls access to stories from young women about their life experiences as at-risk girls and how they got help to turn their lives around. The site features links to helpful information about communication and relationships, health, and careers. It also provides online resources that offer advice and allow the posting of messages to foster dialogue on important issues affecting girls. In addition, the site provides girls with tips on how to get involved in their community through volunteering, the arts, and sports.
The Web site incorporates recommendations made during a comprehensive nationwide assessment of training and technical assistance needs during spring and summer 2011. The assessment included 64 listening sessions held across the country with at-risk and justice system-involved girls, their parents or caretakers, and local professionals in the areas of mental health, education, health, delinquency prevention, corrections, and the courts. Participants emphasized the importance of providing peer-sharing opportunities in training and technical assistance events, information sharing across youth-serving organizations and agencies, and including the voices of girls and their families in the development of programs and policies.
The institute is in the process of creating a national advisory board composed of experts in a range of fields, including juvenile justice, child welfare, child protection, education, research, training and technical assistance, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, teen pregnancy and parenting, and family engagement. The board will contribute to the development of National Girls Institute standards of care, and develop recommendations for gender-responsive practices and for reducing the compartmentalization of information and services among youth-serving agencies.