A Female-Based Continuum of Care Model

Taking into consideration all the issues addressed above, it is the development of a complete continuum of care for young women involved in the juvenile justice system that is the most effective way of meeting their individual service delivery needs and of eliminating gender bias from within the system. When the entire range of services is available for young women and when each individual program is developed with the young women's critical needs in mind, the system is more likely to be able to provide appropriate and effective placements, no matter what a young woman's level of involvement.

The following continuum model, adapted from one developed in 1993 by the Florida Female Initiative, a statewide group addressing the needs of juvenile female offenders, is put forth as an example. Although such a continuum must contain the following programmatic stages, it is possible, of course, for stages to be combined into one type of justice program. For instance, an effective probation program may address some of the early intervention and diversion issues, and some of the juvenile justice interventions.

Basic Principles

  1. Whenever possible, young women should be treated in the least restrictive programming environment, considering both treatment needs and concerns for public safety.

  2. Whenever possible, young women should be treated in program environments that are close to their homes. This ensures maintenance of key family relationships, including female offenders' relationships with their own children, and allows for more effective transitional services.

  3. All treatment programs in the continuum should focus on treatment modalities based on or consistent with specific principles of female development. Furthermore, they should all stress the role of the relationship between staff and young women and contain elements of societal advocacy.

  4. Whenever possible, treatment programs at all levels of the continuum should be prepared to address the unique needs of parenting and pregnant young women.

  5. Whenever possible, programs and/or individual treatment components should be single gender or all female. When coed services are provided, an effort should be made to keep the number of young women and the number of young men equal.

Elements of a Female Continuum

  1. Prevention Services, including programs or services that provide effective prenatal care for all pregnant young women; examine the nature and structure of the family; seek to prevent domestic violence and child sexual and physical abuse; offer early childhood education, particularly for at-risk girls; offer comprehensive health and sexuality information to young women in a single-gender setting; focus on career development and life skills, particularly in nontraditional female careers; strive to create a gender-equal school environment; and address the need for effective parenting skills for both mother and father.

  2. Early Intervention and Diversion Services, including programs or services that offer gender-specific counseling, especially around issues of abuse; offer remedial or tutorial education in the context of young women's specific learning styles; offer early substance abuse intervention and education; offer pregnancy assistance and prevention services specifically addressing both economic and emotional issues; confront family violence issues such as domestic violence and child sexual and physical abuse; provide for effective intake and assessment procedures that address the specific risks and needs of young women; provide for case management systems that allow, whenever possible, for specially trained individuals to handle all female caseloads and to maintain their involvement as the young woman moves throughout the juvenile justice system; offer family- based wraparound services; offer alternative family placements such as all-female group homes and foster care, where foster care parents have received specialized training in female development; offer a range of nonresidential treatment options, such as all-female day treatment programs with a family intervention component, after school and weekend intervention and community service programs, and all-female probation groups to address issues such as substance abuse, societal pressures, relationship violence, and so forth; and offer shelter care and respite residential care for short-term crisis intervention, particularly for young women who have run away from home or who have involvement in other status offenses.

  3. Juvenile Justice Intervention Services, including programs and services such as all-female group treatment homes; specialized group treatment homes for pregnant or parenting young women; all-female, staff-secure halfway houses or other small, residential models for young women adjudicated delinquent; all-female, short-term, secure residential treatment facilities for more serious offenders; all-female, longer-term, secure residential treatment facilities that offer a full range of treatment services; transitional programs and services that take into account relational and service issues; and aftercare and parole services designed to effectively reintegrate young women into the community.

In its ideal model, this continuum functions as a circle rather than as a linear process, allowing young women reentering the community from the last intervention to access services near the beginning of the continuum in order to effectively reintegrate into society.


American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the National Education Association. 1992. How Schools Shortchange Girls: A Study of the Major Findings on Girls and Education. American Association of University Women, Baltimore, MD.

American Association of University Women and the National Education Association. 1993. Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America's Schools. American Association of University Women, Baltimore, MD.

Baker Miller, Jean. 1976. Toward a New Psychology of Women. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.

Belenky, Mary Field, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule. 1986. Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. Basic Books, New York, NY.

Cheltenham Young Women's Facility Program Redesign Committee. 1993. Proposed Redesign for the Cheltenham Young Women's Facility. Baltimore, MD.

Debold, Elizabeth, Marie Wilson, and Idelisse Malave. 1993. Mother Daughter Revolution: From Good Girls to Great Women. Bantam Books, New York, NY.

Flansburg, Sundra. 1991. Building a Self: Teenaged Girls and Issues of Self-Esteem. Women's Educational Equity Act Publishing Center, Washington, DC.

Florida Female Initiative. 1993. Recommended Continuum of Services for Female Juvenile Offenders. Department of Juvenile Justice, Tallahassee, FL.

Fordham, Signithia. 1993. "Those Loud Black Girls: Black Women, Silence, and `Passing' in the Academy." Anthropology and Education Quarterly 24 (1), p. 91.

Gilligan, Carol. 1982. In a Different Voice. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Gilligan, Carol, and Lyn Mikel Brown. 1992. Meeting at the Crossroads. Ballantine Books, New York, NY.

Gilligan, Carol, Jill McLean Taylor, and Amy M. Sullivan. 1996. Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationship. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Hancock, Emily. 1989. The Girl Within. Fawcett Columbine, New York, NY.

Llewelyn, Sue, and Kate Osborne. 1990. Women's Lives. Routledge, London.

Maniglia, Rebecca. 1994. "Considering Gender: Responding to the Female Offender." In Juvenile Offenders: Developing Community Options Conference Notebook. University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Wichita, KS.

Maniglia, Rebecca. 1996. "New Directions for Young Women in the Juvenile Justice System." Reclaiming Children and Youth: Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems 5 (2), pp. 96-101.

Maniglia, Rebecca, and Linda Albrecht. 1995. Gender-Specific Services Training Curricula. Community Research Associates, Denver, CO.

Pipher, Mary. 1994. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Ballantine Books, New York, NY.

Robinson, Tracy, and Jane Victoria Ward. 1991. "A Belief in Self Far Greater Than Anyone's Disbelief: Cultivating Resistance Among African-American Female Adolescents." In Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance, edited by C. Gilligan, A.G. Rogers, and D.L. Tolman, pp. 89-91. Hawthorn Press, Binghamton, NY.

Sadker, Myra, and David Sadker. 1994. Failing at Fairness: How America's Schools Cheat Girls. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, NY.

Juvenile Female Offenders: A Status of the States Report October 1998