Jane is the head of the Social Work Library at uw-madison

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Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

In partnership with the National Institute of Justice, the Girl Scout Council of Central Maryland embarked on a project in 1992 that targets girls whose mothers were incarcerated. Since then, Maryland’s initial Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program has spread to approximately 40 programs throughout the nation.

Lessening the impact of parental separation is the primary goal of GSBB. Through these three core components, the program aims to foster the personal and social development of girls and their mothers:

  • Mother/daughter troop meetings at the correctional facility

  • Girl-only troop meetings and council-wide activities

  • In-prison enrichment activities for the incarcerated mothers

The GSBB program relies heavily on volunteer advisors who act as mentors, teachers, counselors, and mediators. GSBB created a resource guide to assist Girl Scout councils in developing programs in their areas. Beyond Bars: A Curriculum for Life begins with a section that provides GSBB staff and volunteers with tips and tools to overcome some of the challenges that may arise throughout the course of the program. The Beyond Bars curriculum is divided into four sections:

  • Building Healthy Relationships – Today, skills such as communicating feelings, valuing diversity, and expressing empathy, often collectively referred to as emotional intelligence, are considered as important as academic learning.

  • Making Decisions – Because young people often lack maturity and measured thinking, making sound decisions and solving complex problems are important parts of life skills teaching.

  • Understanding You – Girls need to develop a clear sense of who they are and what they believe in and value. Being able to define one’s self, apart from external influences, is not easy. One of the barriers to self-affirmation for girls with incarcerated mothers is the tendency to identify as an extension of the incarcerated parent.

  • Healthy You – Activities and suggestions for introducing or reinforcing self-care skills are offered in three basic areas: maintaining good mental health by reducing stress, identifying healthy habits, and avoiding violence.

Contact: Christine Brongniart, GSBB Project Manager, cbrongniart@girlscouts.org

Aabha Adhiya, GCBB Project Coordinator, aadhiya@girlscouts.org

Website: www.girlscouts.org


ParentLink is a service provided by the College of Education at the University of Missouri that offers a wide variety of services for parents and families and specifically reaches out to incarcerated parents through Parenting Corners. The program aims to help offenders remain or become connected to their children and families throughout their time in prison. It's about rehabilitating offenders, not just as citizens, but as parents.

Parenting Corners offer research-based information to parents in prison. Parenting Corners are located in the visiting areas of 21 prisons throughout the state of Missouri. The corners are stocked with pamphlets that cover nine different topics that relate to both the parent and child. The themes include basic child development, legal, education, substance abuse prevention, mental health, exercise and nutrition, safety, and special populations.
Email: ParentLink@missouri.edu

Website: www.parentlink.missouri.edu

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