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 eleven-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 9-19 years of age, especially those who are at risk for endangerment and disconnection. 

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, promising or evidence-based practices/models and offer them an assessment tool for programs and services to meet the standards for providing gender-responsive programming for girls.

We collaborate with The National Crittenton Foundation and the National Girls @ the Margin 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 for programs and agencies serving girls to further explore and support gender-responsive practices and programs.

 

What have we done over the years?

The Coalition has supported the monitoring of the Equal Access for Girls law (ORS 417.270) with all four state agencies that serve children, including the Department of Human Services (DHS), Oregon Youth Authority (OYA), Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Commission of Children and Families (OCCF) since the bill was 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. 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.

Some of the outstanding policy and program changes that have occurred as a result of our advocacy efforts are:

  •  In February 2012 the Coalition and the State (DHS/OYA/OHA) began the implementation of the Gender-Responsive Standards and Assessment Tool for Girls' Programs (G-SAT for Girls’ Programs) as a voluntary part of the State’s biennial licensing and program reviews of girl’s residential programs and the youth correctional facility. The G-SAT for Girls’ Program 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 they should improve the outcomes for girls.

The project has enabled the Coalition to fully carry out our mission of ensuring that girls get access to the gender-responsive services and support they need to help them develop to their full potential. The G-SAT is the critical component the Coalition needed to successfully monitor the State departments' progress for compliance with the Equal Access law. And more importantly to ensuring that girls will have access to effective gender-responsive services, treatment and facilities increasing their chances for success and self-sufficiency.

The G-SAT for Girls’ Programs has two tools, the Management and Staff Tool 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 (not designed for TFC or Proctor Care). The Management and Staff Tool is 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 Girl's Tool was designed specifically for girls to parallel the Mgmt/Staff Tool, and is completed by hand; it has 54 statements (check the box -4 choices).

To maintain the integrity of the Tool the Coalition in collaboration with The National Crittenton Foundation will manage the tools and distribute them to programs for the State. The State will provide information to the Program about steps for the voluntary completion of the Management/Staff Tool and about steps for Girls’ Tool. The Coalition/Crittenton uses an on-line program to tabulate scores from the program’s management/staff assessment tool and sends results to State and the Program before the review. Programs are told in administering the Girls’ Tool of the importance of ensuring girl’s anonymity/ confidentiality by having girls put their completed surveys in individual sealed envelopes and putting them in the large envelope provided and returning it to Crittenton. Crittenton will enter the girl’s data into an on-line survey program and email tabulations from the girl’s surveys directly back to the program, but not to the State.

For more information about the © G-SAT for Girls’ Programs email Pam Patton at: pam@equalaccessforgirls.org

  • 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 olds 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.

Two of the outstanding training opportunities that have occurred as a result of our education efforts are:

  • 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".