In the late 1990’s, research statistics reported that the rate of female juvenile violence in Sonoma County was rising at a faster rate than that of girls in the state as a whole. Staff within the St. Joseph Health System of Sonoma County, California got together to talk about ways to effectively deal with this problem and from this meeting, focus groups of mothers and daughters were formed. These women agreed that one area which could be effectively addressed was a lack of quality after-school programs in our county. They knew that these after-school hours were critical in the prevention of violence and other negative behaviors among youth.
In 1999, focus groups were formed in several different schools in Sonoma County, and surveys were done with these girls. The Circle of Sisters after-school program grew from the information obtained from these surveys and from the input of the mothers and daughters.
Circle of Sisters was developed as a pilot project of the St. Joseph Health System, and prior to the 2001-02 school year, all of the funding for COS was provided by SJHS. Circle of Sisters was piloted in Guerneville School in January of 2000. Today, Circle of Sisters operates approximately 15 after school sites.