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Description of the Girls Health & Justice Institute

Our mission is to make sure that every girl entering the juvenile justice system has her own unique physical and mental health care needs identified, treated and followed inside and outside the system. We believe that by providing health care to girls early on, when they need it most, we can both improve their health and reduce recidivism–breaking the cycle of teens entering the criminal justice system as adults. Our belief is rooted in 15 years of research that has led us to develop the first-ever, evidence-based Girls Health Screen©. Now being adopted in Los Angeles County, with planned expansion across California and nationwide, the Girls Health Screen© helps juvenile facilities identify and respond to the health needs of the growing number of girls passing through locked gates. Our initial focus is on girls because they are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population, and because they have higher health and reproductive needs and are detained for less serious offenses than boys. But, we won’t stop there. Our next step is to connect girls and boys being released with medical homes in the community. To that end, we are launching the Electronic Girls & Boys Health Passport© and pioneering pathways to improved access to health benefits and care under the Affordable Care Act so that these previously invisible, vulnerable children have a chance for a positive, healthy, crime-free life.