Visions, Values, and Voices
National Girls' Caucus

The National Girls' Caucus has sponsored two major national conferences. The first, "Visions, Values, and Voices," was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL, in October 1996. More than 200 adults and students participated in this conference, which was sponsored by the Valentine Foundation. Shay Bilchik, Administrator, OJJDP, and former Secretary Calvin Ross, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, were featured keynote speakers. Model programs such as the Female Intervention Team, Baltimore, MD; SISTA'S, Washington, DC; City Girls, Chicago, IL; St. Croix Girls Camp, Sandstone, MN; and PACE Center for Girls, Inc., Jacksonville, FL, were highlighted. The most energizing track was the youth track, in which youth facilitators talked about topics such as spiritual awareness, gang violence, sexual harassment, and cultural diversity.

Youth facilitators talked about spiritual awareness, gang violence, sexual harassment, and cultural diversity.

In September 1998, the second conference, "Beyond Visions, Values, and Voices," was held in Baltimore, MD. Its major objective was to provide reliable information regarding policymaking and funding as they relate to gender-specific programming. In addition, caucus board members have provided technical assistance to agencies across the Nation and presented workshops on topics such as the core components of effective gender-specific programming, the realities of growing up female in today's culture, and personal and societal beliefs related to gender roles. Individuals who participate in caucus events have reported the implementation of local programs for girls such as the Reaffirming Young Sister's Excellence (RYSE) program in Alameda County, CA, which was created as a result of one woman's inspiration after attending a caucus roundtable. RYSE, staffed by specially trained probation officers, provides comprehensive services such as career readiness, anger management, pregnancy prevention, cultural activities, family preservation services, life skills, and transition programs to girls and young women served by the Alameda County Probation Department.

Through continued collaboration, the caucus will ensure that the voices of girls are heard.

Participants in caucus events also have reported the development of State coalitions, such as that found in the State of Michigan. After attending the 1996 caucus conference, representatives from Michigan spearheaded the State's first gender-specific seminar. They were awarded State funding to host a 1-day conference that raised awareness regarding the gender bias existing in the juvenile justice system. This conference drew more than 200 participants to include police officers, educators, juvenile court workers, judges, mental health workers, church representatives, and leaders of juvenile programs. As a result of this conference, Michigan has held two 1-day statewide training sessions and has identified community members who are committed to improving the quality of life for girls.