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Secretary's Message

December 2, 2011

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ Employees:

I sincerely hope you had a peaceful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Allow me to share some news:

NEW TEAM MEMBERS: Please welcome the following new DJJ team members who joined us in November:

LaTavia Bush as Personnel Aide in the Bureau of Personnel
Darline Cunningham as Registered Nursing Consultant in Health Services
Melaney Denson as Government Analyst I in the CCC
Chandra Fields as Government Operations Consultant I in Purchasing and Leasing
Heather Lincicome as Senior Behavioral Analyst in Health Services
Charleen (Charly) O’Toole as Secretary Specialist in Research and Planning

KUDOS: Shirley Edmond, a supervisor at Alachua Regional Detention Center in Gainesville, saved a youth from choking on food the day after Thanksgiving. Staff noticed the youth in distress in the dining room and called an internal medical alert. Ms. Edmond arrived and immediately applied the Heimlich Maneuver, which dislodged the food from the youth’s throat. Medical staff checked the youth, who fully recovered at the scene and did not require further attention. Ms. Edmond’s quick thinking and action under pressure represents the care and compassion of the vast majority of DJJ employees, especially those who work directly with youth every day.

QUALITY IS IMPROVING: I am pleased to announce that DJJ’s Programming and Technical Assistance Unit has merged with the Bureau of Quality Assurance to create the Bureau of Quality Improvement. Combining these two offices will improve our outcome-based measurement and advance our core mission to serve youth and families through the most effective interventions. Jennifer Rechichi has been appointed Chief of Quality Improvement and will lead this effort. She has served as the Administrator of the Programming and Technical Assistance Unit since November 2006, overseeing the training of staff statewide in evidence-based and best practices. She has served on numerous workgroups including Co-Chair of the Evidence-based Steering Committee. Jennifer received a Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Florida State University, a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University, and is a Certified Family Life Educator. Jeff Wenhold, who previously served as Chief of Quality Assurance, will work with Jennifer to ensure a smooth transition. He will continue as a vital member of the quality improvement team. I am confident these changes will help ensure that youth in our care receive the most effective services.

CASEY FOUNDATION: The Annie E. Casey Foundation (www.aecf.org) is a highly supportive partner of DJJ. The Foundation has graciously offered the time and talent of its staff to advise and assist us as we work toward juvenile justice reform in Florida. Foundation staff members Danielle Lipow and Tanya Washington have been meeting with DJJ leadership and staff throughout the year to gather information with the goal of improving how we serve our stakeholders. So that we can fully benefit from the Foundation’s support and resources, we have offered Danielle and Tanya a small office next to the Communications office on the third floor of the Knight Building, which they will use a few days a month as their schedules permit. We welcome Danielle and Tanya to our offices and look forward to our continued partnership with them and the Foundation.

TOYS FOR TOTS: During this holiday season, the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, Chapter 2 (Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla counties) is sponsoring a toy drive to collect Toys for Tots. Please drop off your donations to brighten a child’s Christmas by Dec. 16 with Linda Fish in the General Counsel’s Office on the third floor of the Knight Building in Tallahassee. Also, monetary donation will be accepted (please make checks payable to FCCD Chapter 2). If you have any questions, contact Linda at 850.487.9042.

FREE TAX ADVICE: The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $50,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887. The TCE Program provides free tax help to people aged 60 and older. As part of the IRS-sponsored TCE Program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. For more information on TCE, call 1-800-829-1040. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669.

Thank you for all you do to serve the youth in our care and all our stakeholders.


Wansley Walters

PS: Thank you for responding to my request for good news to share in my weekly letter. Sometimes I don’t have room for all of them in one letter and must save them for a future edition. Please continue sharing any announcements or news with Communications Director C.J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or at 850.921.5905. Thank you for your cooperation.