12 Year Old Girl Creates A Unique App For Children With Incarcerated Parents

A Florida pre-teen designs and builds a mobile app
that allows children to send photos and letters to their incarcerated parents.

In the United States 2.7 million children go to bed knowing their incarcerated parent won’t be in their home in the morning. Because of the stress that accompanies their parents’ absence, many children develop varying levels of separation anxiety or other psychological problems. In the long-term, the disruption associated with parental incarceration will likely adversely affect the quality of the child’s attachment to their parent. Children exhibit internalizing problems, such as anxiety, withdrawal, hypervigilance, depression, shame and guilt. The number of parents incarcerated vary from state-to-state; just under 65,000 are housed in Florida facilities alone. In February 2018, “Jay Jay” Patton designed and developed a much needed mobile application, “Photo Patch” to help children maintain healthy relationships with their parents who are serving time in prison. Jay Jay’s software stands for more than most trendy apps; it speaks to her budding passion to advocate for what some are calling the “invisible victims” of incarceration. That is, the youth who are in a similar position she was in when she was torn away from one of the most influential people in her life: her father.

 At the age of 3, Jay Jay’s primary means of communicating with her father, Antoine, who was incarcerated in a maximum security New York State Correctional Facility 6 Hours away from her, was by “snail mail”. Snail mail is ordinary U.S. postal mail, lacking the speed, efficiency, and often the personality of modern communication tools like email, social media and text messaging. Because of New York State Correctional policies, U.S. postage remains the primary form of communication for children like Jay Jay to use when …