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Scouts ‘Tagalong’ with Mom

June 5, 2017

By Alexandra Barton

DOC Communications

(Alexandra Barton, DOC Communications)

GIG HARBOR – Tasty thin mints and tagalongs cookies covered the tables at Washington Corrections Center for Women. The occasion was for a monthly Girl Scouts Beyond Bars meeting. Community Partnership Program Coordinator, Casey Hughes, helps lead both the community and facility troops that include any girl whose family is or has been affected by incarceration. The curriculum and activities for the program are more specialized to the participants’ experiences than the average Girl Scout troop.

“We really try to cater to any past traumas and we really want to build the relationship between the girl and the parent or guardian,” Hughes said.

The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program began 20 years ago, and has only continued to grow throughout the years. Hughes said what she enjoys the most from her time with the program is meeting new people and learning about their stories.

“Just having fun with them,” Hughes said. “You get to see a lot of happiness and you get to see the girls grow, and that’s my favorite part.”

The grant funded program provides everything the girls need to participate. This includes their membership, uniforms, as well as any sashes and badges they earn. Hughes said, they go the extra mile to lessen the strain on families affected by incarceration.

“We just want to make sure that they have that space and don’t have to worry about any other outside burdens,” Hughes said.

Daidre Kimp, one of the incarcerated participants of the program, is grateful to have the chance to spend quality time with her daughter, Brooklyn. The moments they get together during scout meetings are more meaningful than just a regular visit, Kimp said.

“It gives her and me a chance to connect and talk about the things that are going on at school, things that are going on at home, and how she’s feeling,” Kimp said.

Programs like this help the department in the mission to improve public safety. Providing opportunities for incarcerated individuals to create prosocial connections with loved ones can help smoothen their reentry into the community and reduce recidivism.

“That bonding time, the alone time that we get, I just like being able to spend time with her,” Kimp said. “I just try to let her know that it’s going to be okay, and I’m going to be home soon.”