Girl Scouts Beyond Bars: A Collaboration Across Professions, Values and Experience

Anita G. Hufft, Valdosta State University
Jacquelyn Chinnock Reid, Indiana University - Southeast
Marian A. McKay, Indiana University - Southeast

A concept initiated in 1995 by Ms. Marilyn Moses, of the Institute of Justice, the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program was designed to preserve and enhance the relationship between young girls and their incarcerated mothers. An innovative collaboration among the Kentuckiana Girl Scout council, the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, and Indiana University Southeast resulted in the development of a successful visitation program for incarcerated women and their young daughters and granddaughters and the implementation of an extensive evaluation model verifying the positive benefits of enhanced visitation.

After reading about the GSBB program in an Institute of Justice publication, Dr. Marcia Segal, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean for Research at Indiana University Southeast initiated contact with Ms. Betty Kassulke, Warden of KCIW. Their communications extended to the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Council and key interested parties including nursing faculty, education faculty, IUS alumni, and correctional officers. A unique group made up of educators, researchers, correctional personnel, Girl Scout volunteers and advocates for women and children met over the course of a year, staging a process that included the development of goals and objectives, creation of an infrastructure, skills identification and values clarification. Significant contributions to this initiative were identified in the program evaluation strategy, built from the "bottom up" and reflecting clear program goals, shared responsibility for data generation and cooperative approachs to data analysis. The successful articulation of individual and group talents and needs, along with the generation of new identities linked to this project were meaningful outcomes of the GSBB collaboration.

The true measure of success of this collaboration is the sustainability of the program and its evolution in the hands of those who followed the initial planning group. This presentation will identify the process and outcomes of the GSBB collaboration, focusing not only on the specific impact on the participating girls and their mothers, but the effect of a health promotion model on the collaborations among offenders and correctional personnel involved in other parenting programs.

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Updated 05/20/2006