Coalition of Advocates for Equal Access for Girls
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About Us

The Coalition is an all-volunteer member-driven organization dedicated to supporting the adults who empower girls and to ensuring the voices, issues and needs of girls are heard. The Coalition is led by a ten-member volunteer Board of Directors; individuals and organizations that are passionate about the mission and vision that set the foundation for gender equity and gender-responsive services for girls in Oregon.  The Coalition acts as a state level advocate for girls, an education and information resource on the issues that girls face and on effective work with girls, and a network for members committed to helping girls succeed. The Coalition advocates for and educates others about all girls and young women, especially those who are at risk for endangerment and disconnection and involved in State and county systems.

The Coalition started in 1992 when a group of concerned citizens formed a statewide advocacy organization for the purpose of ensuring that girls have the opportunity to develop to their full potential. In 1993, the Coalition sponsored and helped pass the bill in the Oregon Legislature that became the Equal Access law (ORS 417.270). As a result, Oregon is the only state in the nation [with a law] that requires all state agencies providing services to children to ensure that girls have equal access to appropriate gender-specific services, treatment and facilities.

How do we do it?

  • Advocacy

We maintain a strong voice at the state and national levels for the needs and issues of girls and young women.  

We work to ensure that Oregon is providing access to gender-responsive services and programming that meet girls’ needs so girls have the opportunity to develop to their full potential.

  • Education

We inform our network and state agencies of current issues directly impacting girls, of effective gender-responsive, trauma-informed promising or evidence-based practices/models and offer them assessment tools for programs and services to meet the standards for providing gender-responsive programming for girls.

We offer trainings to staff and programs that work directly with girls on strengthening the impact of their work with girls.

We collaborate with The National Crittenton Foundation and the Girls @ the Margin National Alliance to educate other states about the benefits of having the foundation that Oregon has with our Equal Access law and how it enables advocacy for ensuring that services for girls utilize gender-responsive practices.

  • Outreach/Networking

We provide opportunities at the local, state and national levels for girl advocates to connect, share, and build relationships advancing girls' issues.

We enhance resources through our Gender-Responsive Standards and Assessment Tools (G-SATs) and our Gender-Responsive Standards and Assessment Tool and Trauma-Informed Practices for Working with Girls Handbooks for programs and agencies serving girls to further explore and support gender-responsive, trauma-informed practices and programs.


What have we done over the years?

  •     Coalition's Beginning - Herstory

The Coalition has supported the monitoring of the Equal Access for Girls law (ORS 417.270) with state agencies that serve children and youth since the bill was introduced by Representative Kate Brown (currently Governor) and signed into law on July 18, 1993 by Governor Barbara Roberts.

The Coalition initiated the monitoring process in the fall of 1993 by receiving two advisory seats on the State Department’s Children’s Coordinating Council, which later produced a comprehensive report documenting all services funded by the state for children and youth by gender. That full report, with recommendations of how to alleviate disparities of services and funding between girls and boys, was presented to the Oregon Legislature in 1995. The law also required all departments serving children under 18 years of age to report back biannually to the Legislature about how they were implementing plans to alleviate disparities and to ensure services provided were gender-specific.

Since 1996 the Coalition has had an advisory role with the Department of Human Services (on the Child Welfare Advisory Committee and CWAC Teen Services Subcommittee and the DHS Gender Appropriate Services for Youth Committee) and the Oregon Youth Authority (on the OYA Advisory Committee and the Young Women Work Groups). The Department of Education with the election of Susan Castillo in 2003 offered the Coalition a seat on appropriate advisory committees (currently the Coalition does not advise the DOE). And the Oregon Commission on Children and Families was the first “partner” of the Coalition and we have advised the Commission through collaborations with staff, information for counties on gender-responsive services and testimony to the State Commission (in 2011 the legislature eliminated the OCCF).

Some of the outstanding policy, program additions and program resources that were developed as a result of the Coalition's advocacy efforts:


  •  In February 2012 the Coalition and the State (DHS/OYA/OHA) introduced to contract providers and state facilities the Gender-Responsive Standards and Assessment Tool for Girls' Programs (G-SAT) as a support to the State’s licensing and program reviews of girl’s residential programs and the youth correctional facility. The G-SAT was developed and piloted through a project grant the Coalition received from Meyer Memorial Trust in 2011. After doing extensive national review we extrapolated the best empirically sound standards from the various tools to create one solid and much more comprehensive instrument. The G-SAT is a great resource for enhancing a program’s gender-responsive approach and by integrating these empirically based standards should improve the outcomes for girls increasing their chances for success and self-sufficiency.

Program Resources

There are three G-SAT's:

 The initial G-SAT was developed in 2011 for girls' Residential Programs and Services, it has two tools, the first is the Management and Staff Tool which assesses a Program’s gender-responsive approach and its integration into four areas: (1) facility, (2) staffing, (3) programs and services for girls, and (4) administration/ leadership. The tool is for use in juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, as well as alcohol and drug residential/institutional programs and facilities. The Management and Staff Tool can be completed on-line using a 1-10 Likert scale, there are 59 Standards, below each standard are statements describing the components that make up the standard. These components offer programs a comprehensive continual resource in ensuring they are integrating a gender-responsive approach into their girl’s residential/institutional programs. And the second is the Girl's Tool designed specifically for girls to parallel the Management/Staff Tool, and is completed by hand; it has 54 statements (check the box -4 choices).

In 2013 the Coalition developed the G-SAT for Girls' Therapeutic/Treatment/Proctor Foster Homes and Services for Foster Home Parents and the parallel Girl's Tools.

In 2016 the Coalition developed the G-SAT for Community Programs and Services for Management and Staff and the parallel Girls Tools.

For more information about the © G-SAT's for Girls’ Programs see "What's New".

Program and Policy Additions:

  • On February 28, 2008 the Oregon Youth Authority's all-female Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility was opened. This gender-responsive based young women's facility was established after four years of work in collaboration with the Oregon Youth Authority's (OYA) Young Women’s Work Group and the  Implementation Committee (both chaired by the Coalition's President) and with the advocacy efforts of the Coalition with the Governor's Office and the 2005 and 2007 Legislature.
  • On January 2005, after six years of working on Gender-Specific committees with the Department of Human Services (DHS) the Administrator signed into policy and implemented the department wide DHS Policy on Gender-Specific Services for Children and Youth. Stating “DHS will undertake action, where appropriate, to incorporate gender-specific perspectives and practices into the program strategy, development, implementation, analysis, and DHS work culture.”
  • On March 15, 1999, after two years of working and planning with OYA on the Gender-Specific Services Work Group (GSSWG), the Corvallis House Young Women’s Transition Program opened as a part of the OYA close custody system. Prior to this program’s opening young men had four transition work-study camp programs and young women had no programs.
  • In 1997, when the Legislature transferred funding from DHS Child Welfare to the Oregon Commission on Children and Families (OCCF) for a population described as "acting out, non-delinquent 13-18 year old youth (Level 7)", the Coalition's advocacy established in OCCF Administrative Rule that the funding to counties for “Level 7” would remain as it had with Child Welfare for youth (not transferred to young children in OCCF) and that 50% of the funding would be used on services for girls.

Training opportunities that have occurred as a result of our education efforts are:

  • From 2012-2017 the Coalition has offered annual gender-responsive and trauma-informed trainings Strengthening the Impact of Our Work with Girls to 75-100 direct service staff and managers who work with girls. We brought in national expert Keynote speakers and offered multiple workshops on the most current and relevant practices in working with girls.
  • From 2001-2011 the Coalition offered periodic trainings/ presentations at our monthly meetings throughout the year on best practices and approaches on the issues and needs of girls.
  • In 2000 the Coalition sponsored the second "Summit on Girls" with 500 in attendance and national presenters Elizabeth Debold on How to Cultivate Hardiness Zones for Girls and Janie Victoria Ward on The Culture Girls Grow Up In. Additonally there were workshops with gender-responsive models for girls from Oregon, California and Washington DC.
  • In 1998 the Coalition sponsored the first Girls Summit "Gender-specific policies for girls at risk: Why girls? What works!". Over 400 attended and we had two national presenters on gender-specific services for girls, Leslie Acoca and Rebecca Maniglia. Also presented was a report funded by the Coalition, "At-risk adolescent girls: Profile of needs".