We believe all women can embrace who they are,
can define their future, and can change the world.
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.
Girls Court Mission
"Our Mission is to clarify, facilitate and enhance the Family Court of the First Circuit’s commitment to gender-responsive services for young women."
(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.
(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.
Program Core Values
(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.
(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.
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.