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Secretary's Message

November 10, 2011

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ Employees:

I am pleased to share with you my first weekly letter to all DJJ employees. Its purpose is to provide you with an update on key events and issues in our agency, and recognize noteworthy accomplishments. In the DJJ Workplace Climate Survey, many of you expressed concerns about lack of information sharing within DJJ, and this letter is one step we are taking to address that. I intend to share a letter with you at least once a week, either at the end of the week or beginning. I will keep it simple and straightforward and hope it helps you understand what’s going at DJJ.

VETERANS: First, let me thank all military veterans who are employed at DJJ for your service to our country. Tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 11) is Veteran’s Day and I encourage all veterans and non-veterans alike to pause and remember the sacrifices of those who served in uniform from our country’s founding to the present day. Florida is the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. If you are one of Florida’s more than 1.6 million veterans, visit the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs online at www.FloridaVets.org to learn about benefits available to you as a result of your military service.

ALACHUA COUNTY: Deputy Secretary Robert Woody and I spent Wednesday and today visiting with DJJ staff and community leaders in Gainesville and Alachua County. It was heartening to meet so many dedicated employees who sincerely care about the youth we serve. I enjoyed getting out of the office for a couple of days and into the field to meet those who serve our youth on the front lines. I plan more visits in the future. Click here to read news coverage of my visit.

FLAGLER COUNTY: Kudos to probation officer Woody Douge, who led efforts to spruce up the DJJ Community Garden in Flagler County. He and his team of volunteers recently earned recognition in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

FAITH-BASED SYMPOSIUM: On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week in Altamonte Springs, DJJ teamed up with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and hundreds of volunteers to hold “Our Children, Our Future – Faith and Community Symposium.” This event brought together volunteers from across the state to share ideas and best practices of integrating faith-based organizations into our work to help at-risk children, youth and families. It also connected resources, raise awareness of issues impacting these families and provide training to programs that serve in the community. I thank DCF Secretary David Wilkins for his collaboration with us on this important and timely project. I’m also grateful to Deputy Secretary Woody and Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie for representing DJJ at this event. Special thanks to Andy Hindman in the DJJ Office of Prevention and Victim Services for coordinating our participation in the symposium.

SERVICE PINS: Each fall, we identify employees who are eligible to receive years of service pins for the next calendar year. You must be employed by DJJ at the time you reach the five-year plateau to receive a pin, which is usually distributed after the first of the year. Each facility or office determines when the pins are presented to their employees. If you have not received a years of service pin that you think you are qualified for, ask your supervisor if a pin was received from the Bureau of Personnel or contact Morrison King directly to check on the status of your pin.

PAR STATS: Last but not least, some encouraging news from the Office of Residential Services regarding Protective Action Response (PAR) data for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2011-12. The average rate (number of restraints per 1,000 available bed days) is 2.05. This is a decrease of 5.1% from the FY 10-11 rate of 2.16, a decrease of 23.2% from the FY 09-10 rate of 2.67 and a 44.6% decrease from the FY 08-09 rate of 3.7. This progress toward restraint/seclusion free programs occurred during a time period of unprecedented youth movement due to program closures. We expect to see continued reductions in physical interventions as programs stabilize. Three programs had zero PARs for 15 months or longer: Big Cypress (19 months); Francis Walker HWH (16 months); and WINGS (15 months). This trend toward seclusion/restraint free programs is directly related to your adherence to best practices in Behavioral Management and a commitment to Trauma Informed Care.

Thank you for all you do to serve the youth in our care and have a restful Veteran’s Day weekend.

Wansley Walters

PS: If you have any news or developments you want me to consider for inclusion in this weekly letter, please email Communications Director C.J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905.