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Across the country, 1.7 million children—half of them under the age of 10—have a parent in prison, according to the advocacy group The Sentencing Project. Girls with incarcerated mothers face particular obstacles, but Girl Scouts of the USA believes that lack of access to leadership development programs shouldn't be among them.
The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program was established in 1992 as a partnership between the National Institute of Justice and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, and has grown to serve thousands of girls across the country. GSBB equips girls ages 5 to 17 whose mothers are incarcerated with the tools they'll need to succeed, while also strengthening the mother/daughter bond through regular visits. GSUSA's 2012 National Evaluation of the program found that 84 percent of girls agree that they have a better relationship with their mother since participating in GSBB.
Mothers and their daughters take an active leadership role in the planning and implementation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a process that fosters life skills development and personal growth. After release, parents and daughters can continue to participate in troop meetings in their communities, making Girl Scouting a consistent and supportive presence in their lives.
This brochure was created to provide a comprehensive overview of the GSBB's history, operational structure, and evidence-based impact on participants.
This brochure provides a condensed summary of the GSBB program.
This facilitator's guide was originally created by ITVS Community Classroom to address the challenges and needs of women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system. The resource has been blended with the national Girl Scout program, resulting in a unique GSBB facilitator's guide utilizing both organizations' programming expertise.
See a full listing of Girl Scout councils who operate a GSBB program. If a program does not exist in your community, please reach out to the council in your area to inquire about future plans to start or renew the program.