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Secretary's Message

September 7, 2012

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ team members:


Welcome to my weekly letter. Please allow me to share some recent news and announcements.


COLLABORATION KUDOS: Prudent planning prevented problems for youth appearing before the court when Tampa was filled with visitors for the Republican National Convention last month. The proceedings were moved smoothly to the Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center-West, and logistical and technology support to accommodate the court, state attorneys and public defenders worked flawlessly. Juvenile Division Chief Patti Pieri wrote: “On behalf of the State Attorney's Office, it was nothing short of perfect.” Thanks to Hillsborough Detention Superintendent Adonis Miles and Distributed Computer System Administrator Larry Buss and staff for making this effort a success.


SPOTLIGHT ON STAFF DEVELOPMENT & TRAINING: SD&T is responsible for DJJ’s online and classroom training, including the CORE online training system, professional development courses and officer training academies. Denny Clark was appointed SD&T director earlier this year. Prior to joining DJJ, Denny worked for a Fortune 500 bank for more than 22 years in offices in Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, Ga. He has been involved in recruitment training for the past 15 years. He recently discussed his transition to DJJ and plans for improvement in SD&T.


Q. Why did you decide to join DJJ?

A. I fell in love with Secretary Walters’ vision for our youth. I look for a mission in every job and my mission here is to help people who help the at-risk and troubled children of Florida. I am a native Floridian, and I believe the work being done here is important. DJJ is the largest centralized juvenile justice system in the country, and people pay attention to what we do. Secretary Walters is making DJJ the national leader in juvenile justice reform and best practices. It’s exciting to contribute to that effort.


Q. What is your vision for SD&T?

A. Secretary Walters’ goal is to stabilize and professionalize our DJJ workforce. This is my top priority. In fact, this goal is part of DJJ’s long range plan. Although job turnover at DJJ has dropped dramatically in the past five years, we must prepare for an uptick as the economy improves and be positioned to train an influx of new recruits. We have great people with great ideas and a caring heart for youth. This is the source of the greatest potential in our organization. By tapping into this, we can continue to deliver improvements in services.


Q. What plans does SD&T have?

A. The most important change is a shift to emphasizing “learning” rather than “training.” Learning happens in many different ways, such as mentoring, coaching, webinars, teleconferences and video training – ways that expand the classroom model. Training coordinators are going to become learning consultants. Training academies, which are mandated by statute, will continue to be the foundation for learning at DJJ. We are currently examining the CORE training system for possible improvement. All training will be interactive and incorporate systems for ensuring accountability and metrics to determine effectiveness. An example that is already in process is the IMPACT assessment and training for Detention direct care workers. The IMPACT assessment measures suitability of competencies for working with youth. I visited direct care workers to get feedback about training and I heard some useful observations. Our duties call for new skill sets in professional development and leadership. We are in the process of analyzing training needs and preliminary results show the greatest demand is for more effective communication skills with our stakeholders and community partners. We anticipate that a comprehensive plan to improve SD&T will be completed by the end of this year.


AMIkids KUDOS: Congratulations to AMIkids on the recent listing of their Personal Growth Model (PGM) in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). AMIkids PGM addresses risk factors for delinquency through individualized education, treatment and behavior modification. In evaluating PGM, an independent research entity concluded that PGM participants had lower recidivism than youth in Residential placement. Also, youth showed increases in academic achievement during PGM participation. DJJ is committed to providing the right intervention to the right youth at the right time, and this is further evidence that community-based services provide better outcomes for most youth.


HONORING PUBLIC SERVICE: Governor Rick Scott invited the following DJJ employees based in Leon County to the Capitol this week for a reception to honor their years of public service. Every month, Governor Scott holds a reception for state employees in Leon County celebrating 15 or more years of service, in five-year increments.


Roy Averna – 15 years of service


Laura K. Moneyham – 20 years of service


Ronald Morrell – 15 years of service


Eugene Morris – 15 years of service


Bruce Morton – 15 years of service


To all employees, thank you for your professionalism, attention to detail and commitment to excellence. Your service is helping our agency become the national leader in juvenile justice.



Wansley Walters



PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.