Motherhood Beyond Bars
A nonprofit project to support incarcerated mothers
Type: Nonprofit Project (Bits of Good)
Timeline: Jan 2022 - May 2022
Team: Joyce Shen (Design), Vaishu Adi (PM), Patrick Hultquist (EM), & 4 SWE
Role: Product Designer
What happens when women give birth in jail?
Motherhood Beyond Bars
Supporting Mothers, Infants, & Caretakers
Motherhood Beyond Bars (MBB) supports the mothers, infants, and caretakers through this journey. Previously, the organization handled communication with caretakers over phone calls, but the organization has struggled with communication & organization as the number of clients continue to grow.

Motherhood Beyond Bars was looking for a scalable solution to help streamline their onboarding process and allow for more efficient communication with caretakers. For one semester, my team at Bits of Good partnered with MBB to design and develop a solution.
An administrator portal for MBB admin to manage information
A mobile app for caretakers to communicate with MBB
The Users
Admin & Caretakers
Before the semester started, the leadership team - the project manager, engineering manager, and us two designers - started two weeks early to create a relationship with MBB and gather some user research. During this time, we conducted a series of interviews with the administrators at MBB to gather insights on their context, goals, and frustrations. Unfortunately, we were not able to interview the caretakers directly due to time constraints, but the administrators were able to provide some second-hand details since they work closely with the caretakers on a daily basis.
Clarifying Feature Set & Information Architecture
After several interviews with MBB, we assessed their current process, needs, and desired features. These were clarified and adjusted over time, as we received weekly feedback on our developing designs.

The core needs for the caretaker-facing app included an onboarding process, a “baby book” for recording photos (that would be sent to the mothers), a support page (including contact + item requests), and a resource library. The administrative portal website would allow MBB leadership to view and manage caretaker profiles, access the baby books, complete item requests, and update app content.
Caretaker App
Onboarding New Caretakers
The onboarding process previously took place over the phone, so the app and website allows MBB to easily consolidate the information and collect the required liability waivers.
Caretaker App
Providing Baby Items & Support
Motherhood Beyond Bars provides infant supplies to caretakers in need of support. In the onboarding process, caretakers can request starter items that are necessary to pick up the infant from the hospital (e.g. car seat, sleeping place, clothes) in addition to receiving a Begin Box. However, if caretakers need additional items, they can send a request through the item request feature on the support page.
Caretaker App
Crafting a Baby Book
Caretakers can take or upload photos of the baby as s/he grows up, creating a visual documentation of memories and milestones. MBB then can access those photos in the admin portal, print them, and send the photos to the incarcerated mothers. This allows mothers to stay connected with their child’s growth.

Some correctional centers grant inmates supervised access to computers, where moms could access a desktop view of the baby book. Additionally, after the mom is reunited with her child, she can access the link for a record of precious memories and milestones.
Caretaker App
Additional Resources & FAQ
The resource tab provides caretakers with quick answers to common questions and helpful links. The administrators wanted the ability to edit and update this section from the portal as they refine what information is most useful to the caretakers.
Visual Design
Merging Design Languages
MBB told us that they had recently redesigned their website and logo, and they hoped for a look that would match their new branding. The website font, Queens Compressed, was a thin, serif font that had legibility issues on mobile. However, we carried on the use of gradients and developed the color palette based on the website redesign.

Further, Bits of Good was in the midst of developing a component library that would make styling the components easier on our developers. Therefore, we adopted the design system of the component library into our project with slight adjustments to merge the two design languages.
What I Learned
It was a great experience getting to work with Motherhood Beyond Bars and with the project team at Bits of Good! I learned to quickly iterate designs for each sprint, gather feedback, and collaborate closely with my team. Through each sprint, we worked closely with our team of developers to ensure the implementation matches the design intentions. And knowing the impact of the project, I took joy in every step of the design process.