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Iowa Task Force for Young Women

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The ITFYW exists to advise, make recommendations and take action to address juvenile justice issues as they pertain to gender.  The ITFYW is made up of passionate subject matter experts who are invested in comprehensive system improvement that reflects valuing and empowering every girl, no matter her circumstances.

One purpose, one passion - transforming systems to empower every girl

The Iowa Task Force for Young Women (ITFYW) was formed in 1995, as a subcommittee of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (JJAC).  The JJAC serves as Iowa’s State Advisory Group for administration of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  The ITFYW serves to address the issue of females and juvenile justice and to advise the JJAC.  The goal of the ITFYW has been, and continues to be, to facilitate a comprehensive fundamental change in the juvenile justice system that will enhance the understanding and utilization of innovative gender-responsive approaches in all programs and services that serve the adolescent female population of Iowa’s juvenile justice system.

“The Iowa Task Force for Young Women has been front and center on influencing change in the juvenile system and understanding best practices for working with girls – even before the term ‘gender responsive’ was popular.” 

~Giovanna Taormina, Executive Director, One Circle Foundation, California

“When you recall that today’s girls are tomorrow’s women, the Iowa Task Force for Young Women is guaranteeing that the future will be bright for tomorrow’s leaders, female as well as male, while also providing the nation with a model approach to girls’ services.” 

~Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind, University of Hawaii 

Iowa Task Force for Young Women Members

Jennifer Tibbetts, ChairCatherine McAuley CenterCedar Rapids
Lori Rinehart, Vice ChairDes Moines
Ashley Artzer

5th Judicial District Juvenile Court Services

Des Moines

Tiffany Berkenes

Iowa State University Extension & Outreach


Andrea Dencklau

Youth Policy Institute of Iowa

Des Moines

Andrea Dickerson

Youth & Shelter Services

Jackie EllenbeckerJuvenile Court ServicesMarshalltown
Stephanie HernandezFamily ResourcesDavenport

Bethany Kohoutek

Lutheran Services in Iowa

Des Moines

Julie MartinLinn County Juvenile Justice CenterCedar Rapids
Danielle MastenJuvenile Court ServicesDes Moines
Nickole MillerDrake University Law SchoolDes Moines
Ariel PerryCan Play SportsDes Moines
Olivia RayGirls Inc. of Sioux CitySioux City
Marissa Schuster

Thrive Counseling Center

Maria SmithJuvenile Court ServicesDes Moines

Position Paper

Services for Females under Juvenile Court Jurisdiction with High Risk and/or Need Factors

Goals & Objectives

Priority Four:  Female Equity*

Goal 1:  Make the experiences and needs of girls who are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system (i.e., black, native, and LGBTQ+ youth) central to all ongoing work.

Objective A

JJAC/CJJP uses racial and gender equity lenses intentionally throughout all of its work.

  • Generate a tangible method for assuring implementation. 
  • Use council funds and leverage additional funds to support gender and racial equity training.
  • All JJAC members and sub-committee members are trained in the use of gender and racial equity lenses.
  • Collect data about any training received.

Objective B

Continue collaborative work with the DMC subcommittee.

  • Continue annual joint meeting.
  • Establish a joint project/activity/goal (e.g., school to court pipeline).

Objective C

Complete revamp of cornerstone publication, “Healing Justice”.

  • Continue workgroup meetings.
  • Solicit reviews by outside subject matter experts.

Objective D

Support the implementation of recommendations related to gender and race from the IDA validation report.

Goal 2Establishment of a specialized setting(s) for serious, violent, and chronic offenders as well as systemic measures to reduce the need for such a setting as outlined in the recommendations of the “Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Female Offenders” report.

Objective A

Select a small number of recommendations from the report to elevate.

  • Review report recommendations.

Objective B

Engage legislative and/or other leadership champions interested in establishing this level of care.

  • Revisit talking points.
  • Make use of DHR Legislative Day on the Hill.

Goal 3Fill the gaps and improve the quality in the continuum of care for girls in both residential and community-based service settings with well-defined options that allow for differential responses based on culture, risk level, development and needs.

Objective A

Document what options/opportunities girls have compared to boys throughout the system to demonstrate any need for capacity building.

  • Use information from service inventory.
  • Assess and review service data side by side with males.

Objective B

Explore ways to leverage DHS FFPSA work to fill service gaps for girls.

  • Identify any evidence-based services for JJ girls to replicate.

Objective C

Explore ways to study low risk/high need girls under JJ supervision.

*A complete list of goals & objectives for the Juvenile Justice Advisory Council can be found here.

Recent ITFYW Meetings

The Iowa Task Force for Young Women usually meets quarterly during the months of February, May, August, and November.  Please check the calendar for future times and locations.