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Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington’s Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program serves girls whose mothers or grandmothers are incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility located in Wilsonville, Oregon.

A primary part of GSBB’s mission to is to lessen the impact of parent-child separation. Children with a parent in prison are five times more likely to come in contact with the justice system themselves. They can have abandonment issues and be at risk for abuse, decreased school participation, and cycling into criminal behavior.

Through Girl Scout programming, girls learn and develop positive decision-making and leadership skills, while bonding with their mother or grandmother. In addition to enjoying the regular Girl Scout troop experience, girls also have a safe space to talk about their situation with other girls in similar circumstances.

Mothers and grandmothers serve as troop leaders, and benefit from the program as well. They develop positive decision-making and leadership skills alongside their girls, while also learning how to let the girls lead. With the support of GSBB staff, mothers and grandmothers co-facilitate troop meetings together with their Girl Scouts.

Familial Incarceration

Currently, there are over 200,000 women incarcerated in the United States, and more than 60% of women in state prisons have a child under the age of 18. Having a parent incarcerated is a stressful, traumatic experience. Children whose parents are incarcerated suffer higher rates of depression, aggression, poor academic performance and increased absences from school when compared to their peers.

Regular visits with incarcerated parents improve children’s emotional well-being, and reduces the likelihood of recidivism for incarcerated individuals. However, there are few resources available to assist with family visits.

Offsetting the Impact of Familial Incarceration on Girls

GSBB provides opportunities for girls and their adult female participants to learn new skills and build confidence together, while working to strengthen the familial bond. GSBB fosters positive personal and social development of girls, participants and their families through three components:

  • Participant/girl troop meetings at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
  • Girl-only troop meetings and council-sponsored activities.
  • On-site enrichment activities for incarcerated participants.
Proven Success

The Girl Scout Research Institute found that more than 75% of Girl Scouts participating in GSBB reported an improved relationship with their mother. When compared to similar girls outside of the program, Girl Scouts in GSBB get into less trouble, display improved performance in school, make healthier choices, and have increased leadership roles in their communities.

Positive Local Impact

Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington (GSOSW) has partnered with the Department of Corrections since 1997 and has served the GSBB program at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) since 2001. Each year, GSBB serves 30-70 girls throughout Oregon and SW Washington in kindergarten through grade 12 and an estimated 30-50 of their mothers and grandmothers, most of whom plan to return to their communities.

Ways to Support GSBB Girls and Families
Volunteer Support  

Volunteers are critical in helping to advance the GSBB mission. Volunteers take on a variety of important roles including:

  • Serving on the GSBB Advisory Committee
  • Chaperoning Girl Scout activities
  • Participating in fundraising efforts
  • Providing vital transportation to GSBB families

The safety of the girls participating in the GSBB program is paramount. All GSBB volunteers are required to become members of GSOSW, go through a background check and complete a series of volunteer trainings.

Volunteer Drivers

The majority of GSBB families have transportation challenges and needs. GSBB volunteer drivers play an essential role, traveling thousands of miles every month to bring girls to the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and ensure their participation in Girl Scouting.

How Driving for GSBB Works

Twice monthly, GSBB volunteer drivers rent cars for their route and meet girls at a determined location, usually a business or gas station located central to a cluster of GSBB families.

GSBB volunteer driver mornings typically begin at 6 a.m. on the Saturdays that GSBB meets. Currently, the majority of GSBB families live in the extended Salem area (including Hubbard, Salem and Stayton).

To Intern or Volunteer

If you are interested in being considered for an internship or volunteer role, please contact Amy Botula at (503) 977-6815 or via email at abotula@girlscoutsosw.org.

In-Kind Support

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars has some need for in-kind donations. However, due to very limited storage capacity and changing needs, we ask that you please contact us regarding our current wish list. Some of the types of donations that we may be able to use could include:

Clothing—New/gently used, laundered girls’ clothing in a variety of sizes (for girls ages 5-18)

Gas Cards—Gas cards for released participants and continued Girl Scout programming

  • Arco
  • Chevron
  • Costco
  • Fred Meyer
  • 76
  • Shell

Gift Cards—Gift cards to use for program supplies such as backpacks, books, healthy snacks and water

  • Costco
  • Fred Meyer
  • Target
  • Wal*Mart

Sleeping Bags and Pillows

Shoes—New/gently used girls’ shoes in a variety of sizes (for girls ages 5-18)

Financial Support

This life-changing program is made possible through the generous support of donors.  Make a gift today.

 

For More Information

If you have questions or would like more information about Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, please contact Amy Botula at (503) 977-6815 or via email at abotula@girlscoutsosw.org.

GSBB-news

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 5 - 7 p.m.
Cambia Atrium, 100 SW Market St. Portland, Oregon

Keynote address by Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General. Drinks and appetizers provided by our sponsors.

sponsors

RSVP by October 22, 2018
bit.ly/GSBB20YEARS
or sspencer@girlscoutsosw.org