The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday it is expanding its program to welcome girls.

Girls will be allowed to join the Cub Scout program and a program will be created that allows girls to achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The decision was unanimously approved by the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors on Wednesday, the organization announced in a press release.

Boy Scouts of America says the historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families about meeting the character development needs of all children.

“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, in the news release. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Starting in 2018, families will be able to sign both their sons and daughters up for the Cub Scouts. Existing Cub Scout packs can establish a new girls pack, establish a joint boys-girls pack or remain as an all-boys pack. The announcement says Cub Scout dens will remain single-gender.

For older girls, a curriculum will be created that allows them to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts. That program will likely be available in 2019.

The Boy Scouts have offered co-ed Exploring and Venturing programs since 1971, but the organization says this decision will help better meet "the needs of today's families."

Read the full statement from the Boy Scouts of America here.