Hawai`i Girls Court
Working Towards a Brighter Future
We will continue to update our website with helpful information during this COVID-19 crisis.
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Hawai`i Girls Court at a Glance
The Hawai`i Girls Court is one of the first courts in the United States built on a full range of gender-specific and strength-based programming with a caseload targeting female juvenile offenders. Its all-female passionate staff, (Presiding Judge, Probation Officers, Program Coordinator, Social Service, Clerk, Therapist, etc.) is a uniquely powerful aspect of the program. Gender-specific programming seeks to recognize the fundamental differences between male and female juvenile offenders as well as their different pathways to delinquency and, in doing so, act efficiently, creatively, and innovatively to stem the quickly rising tide of female delinquency.
It is our intention that empowering and building on our girls’ strengths now will also stop them from becoming involved in the criminal justice system as adult women, appearing as victims in domestic abuse cases and restraining order proceedings, or as mothers in child protective services later in their lives.
The Family Court of the First Judicial Circuit formed a Girls Court Task Force in 2004 to address the needs of Hawai`i’s at-risk girls and female offenders and ensure that they are adequately considered in policy and programming. The Hawai`i Girls Court began as a volunteer pilot project in September 2004 to serve as both a specialty court as well as a laboratory to design gender-specific policies, programs and services to achieve outcomes that more successfully and effectively target at-risk and delinquent girls. In March 2005, the Hawai`i Office of Youth Services, which is the state agency designated to administer federal funds and state general funds for youth programs in Hawai`i, awarded Girls Court Juvenile Accountability Block Grant funds to hire dedicated staff to continue to develop and enhance our program.
In 2017, the Family Court of the First Judicial Circuit finally established Girls Court as a permanent specialty court program within the Judiciary recognizing the program’s continued value and need.
The Hawai`i Girls Court convenes once every 4-5 weeks with our presiding judge. With exception to CSEC related Girls Court proceedings, sessions are held in an open court setting, with the girls, their families, attorneys, probation officers and service providers present. These court sessions serve to provide positive reinforcement of their strengths and accomplishments as well as a method for imposing graduated sanctions and creating accountability for the girls. The open court setting allows for the girls to learn from and share each other’s experiences, successes, and challenges. It provides an innovative and effective base from which positive and permanent behavioral and cognitive changes can be made
In 2017, Girls Court expanded to include a specialized court calendar and supervision services for girls identified as survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). Court proceedings involving CSEC youth are not conducting in an open court setting, rather remains as a closed setting, individualized to the youth’s case.
Girls Court Judges
~ Girls Court Founding Judge
Judge Karen M. Radius
( September 2004 to October 2010 )
"Welcome to the Girls Court website. This website is to be for, by, and about our girls and women in Hawai`i and their families. The website will show a brief pictorial history of some of the highlights of the Girls Court program.
I was so privileged to be the Judge for Girls Court which is one of the first courts of its kind in the entire nation. Girls Court seeks to build on the strengths of our girls and address the challenges our girls face. As you can see from this site, it is a goal worth pursuing. I want to thank our girls, their families, the Girls Court staff and the people who work with us for their insight, their commitment and their energy.
Stay tuned! There are lots of good things to come. We trust in the underlying strength and resiliency of our girls and their continued growth.
Once you’ve explored our website and you have further questions, we welcome your contact."
~ Former Girls Court Judge
Judge Jennifer Ching
( October 2010 to June 2019 )
"I was honored to be the Judge for Girls Court Program from October 2010 to June 2019. We provided trauma-informed care to the girls and their families, and seek to create places of healing for them. By guiding the girls to discover what their gifts are, we aim to identify ways to help them feel intelligent, competent, creative, and unique. Every cohort is an incredible year of metamorphosis. The positive changes are a result of the trust and commitment of the girls and their families, the devoted Girls Court team, and the generous, marvelous people we partner with in the community."
Behold the beautiful butterflies ~ Our young women!! There is much to celebrate. We are so proud of all of the girls, and we will continue to support them in their journey through life."
Hawai'i Girls Court Presiding Judge
Judge Dyan M. Medeiros
( June 2019 to Present )
Message Coming Soon...
Girls Court Mission & Program Values
"Our Mission is to clarify, facilitate and enhance the Family Court of the First Circuit’s commitment to gender-responsive services for young women."
(Nā Hoʻomaʻi ikaika)
We acknowledge the unique strengths that live within all of us. We work to identify and nurture them in each of our girls. We believe in focusing on and building upon strengths, rather than weaknesses.
(Ke hoʻomaka nei ke manaʻolana)
We believe that hope is the spirit that keeps us going. We are committed to transcending the despair too often found, into hope. We instill a sense that what we do really matters and makes a difference.
(ʻO ka Pilina Pili)
We acknowledge that relationships are central in girl’s lives and that healthy connections are essential to their mental health and well-being.
(Hoʻohui me nā kaiāulu)
Connecting With Community
We provide service opportunities for girls to foster positive community involvement while instilling value on helping others. In turn, the community has an opportunity to receive and view our girls as contributing members of society who are expanding their potential and personal growth.
We understand that girl’s pathway into the justice system often begins with victimization which results in experiences and coping methods that profoundly affect her functioning and self-image. We are committed to validating her feelings and helping to heal the hurt.
We support and provide opportunity and access for girls in developing educational and/or vocational endeavors to empower them to create a sustainable future. We provide activities that introduce girls to various experiences, people, and opinions to assist them in identifying their own beliefs, goals, and potential.
(Ke komo nei i kahi Mana Holistic)
Adopting a Holistic View
We address the whole girl in the context within which she lives and the influences that shape her life. This involves examining her physical, emotional/mental health, educational, and cultural domains.
We believe experiencing meaningful and appropriate sanctions for legal violations and personal misconduct will increase a sense of responsibility and will decrease recidivism. Sanctions are fair, graduated, and individualized. Fairness means individual treatment based on needs, rather than the same treatment for all.
At Girls Court we strive to introduce girls to new positive experiences and introduce them to inspirational role models. The girls are provided a variety of experiential activities that allow them to explore education, recreation, meet healthy women in a variety of jobs and roles, focus on their strengths and meet new goals. We believe that positive group activities help to promote team-building and positive personal growth as well as help the girls develop decision making and self-confidence skills.
Girls Court actively connects and partners with resources in the community. Activities and services that the Hawai`i Girls Court shares with the girls and their families provide a powerful context for girls to build relationship skills and maintain healthy relationships.
Some of our many supportive community partners include: (Click on the community partner for information.)
EAGALA - Horse Therapy
“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” -Lilo & Stich The Girls Court programming requires parent(s) and/or guardian(s) to be parties to the case and legally requires their active participation in the Court. This innovative and holistic approach to juvenile justice, results in more stable families and, ultimately, sustainable progress and improved relationships between the girls and their parents.
In addition to Girls Circle sessions, parent(s) and/or guardian(s), along with the girls, are also required to attend family group sessions for 8 weeks. Family group sessions occur in the evenings, after work hours. The timing is offered to accommodate the work schedules of parent(s) and/or guardian(s), but to also provide the opportunity for all those who live in the home to attend as well. This allows for positive engagement of the family as a whole. A dinner meal is provided to the families, promoting a moment for the families to sit at a table together to enjoy one another’s company while sharing a hot meal. Some topics focused on at these Family Group sessions include areas such as developing parenting skills, conflict resolution skills, healthier family communication and informational sessions on educational and therapeutic services available for the girls and families in the community.
A once a month parent support group is also offered. This is a voluntary group where past and present parent(s) and/or guardian(s) of girls that are or were involved with Girls Court can attend a parent centered group where they can continue to be supported by our Girls Court therapist and other parent peers
EAGALA (Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association) Girls participate in a rich rewarding six weeks, one-hour session experience. Each session includes an equine specialist and a health provider who holds the space for the client and horse to interact. Horses respond with a unique insight into exactly who we are in the moment.
Community Service Learning is a required part of the Girls Court programming. The goal is for the girls, families and girls court staff to actively engage in a community service learning project at least once every quarter. Some of our projects have included feeding the homeless, planting native plants, environmental/beach cleanup, helping to care for a community Lo'i, in addition to hosting a night of holiday bingo at an elderly care home during the holidays to name a few.
(Hoʻohanohano ʻana i ka ʻike wahine) Honoring female Experience
We acknowledge that gender makes a difference. We structure our program to address the unique needs of girls, and maintain respect for the dignity of each individual we serve. We create an environment where girls receive services while feeling physically and emotionally safe. The services are individualized as one size does not fit all.
(Mālama i nā Kūlana Kūʻai)
Maintaining Ethical Standards
We believe high ethical standards must govern our behavior. This is the foundation of trust between staff, the girls, and the community we serve.
"Girls Court is on of the many reasons why I am the person I am today. Girls Court created a treatment that helped me with my problems that I didn't know how to cope with. To me Girls Court was created for girls who were in the foster system who needed support in their lives and the women who are in Girls Court are teaching girls how to become productive members of society and become STRONG, INDEPENDENT women who can change there lives."
~ J ~
"Girls Court has benefited me through my journey by allowing me to see my potential. Being in Girls Court has taught me resilience, respect, and responsibility to better my future. Before Girls Court I would've never thought I had the potential to achieve the things I have today, such as a job, sobriety and a better sense of self. Overall, Girls Court has changed me to be a better, brighter version of myself."
~ S ~
As long as YOU are ready for change, Girls Court is not bad at all! Everything depends on you. Until you realize that you need to change your ways because they're not going to get you anywhere in life. You're not going to do good or get off probation. Girls Court will help you a lot by doing things to keep you out of trouble and provide you positive people to talk to. But again they can only do so much to help you, you need to want it for yourself. It takes a lot of sacrifices, you are who you hang out with. You're going to have to cut bad people out of your life.
"My daughter and her son are doing very well. She seems to have a much better outlook on life. Her goal to become a nurse and plans to attend college, she is still working on achieving. We spend a lot more family quality time together. Without Girls Court Program, none of this seemed possible for helping my daughter get back on track."
Girls Court Team
Judge Karen M. Radius (Founding Judge)
Judge Dyan M Medeiros (Presiding Judge)
Adriane Abe (Program Specialist)
Valerie Lazo (Program Coordinator)
Jeannette M Choy
Christiana E. Machida
Myra F. Taumanupepe
Currently Hiring (Therapist)