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Secretary's Message

October 19, 2012

Wansley WaltersDear DJJ team members:


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


ROADMAP UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has already submitted questions and comments about the Roadmap to System Excellence.  The Roadmap builds on the reforms already underway at DJJ and guides us on the path to making Florida the national model for juvenile justice administration. Your participation, observations and insight are important and will influence the direction of juvenile justice reform in Florida. SAVE THE DATE: We will hold our first town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15 in Leon County with other meetings to follow around the state. Visit the Roadmap Calendar of Town Hall Meetings for the latest information.

 2012 FAITH SYMPOSIUM: Oct. 24-26 (Wednesday-Friday), DJJ will join DCF to present “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope” in Orlando. Members of faith organizations will gather to discuss ways to work to empower Florida's children and families and set them on a path to success. Joining DCF Secretary David Wilkins and me as speakers at the event will be former National Football League (NFL) coach Tony Dungy, former NFL player Derrick Brooks (David Brooks Charities), Rhodes Scholar and former NFL player Myron Rolle and “Papa” Joe Bradford, co-founder of Elijah’s Heart charity and subject of the movie “Unconditional.” Among the many workshops will be the topics: Empowering Parents-Transforming Teens, Foster Parent Recruitment & How to Establish Orphan Ministries, Human Trafficking, and Bridging the Gap: Bringing the Church and State Together for Children and Families. The summit is designed to create opportunities for meaningful collaboration that can change lives and strengthen communities.

Many thanks to Andy Hindman in the Office of Prevention and Victim Services for his help in coordinating this symposium. Andy has been the driving force for DJJ partnerships with the faith community since joining the agency in 2006. He has guided the growth of DJJ Faith Partners to become an interagency effort with DCF, with more than 1,800 organizations participating to help at-risk and troubled youth and their families. Kudos, Andy!

TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE DAY: In observance of Florida Trauma-Informed Care Day on Nov. 1, DJJ will host a community forum at Central Christian Church, 3010 N.E. 14th Street in Ocala from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. The guest speaker will be Tonier Cain, subject of the movie "Healing Neen" who will discuss trauma, incarceration and recovery. Please join DJJ and Tonier Cain in celebrating the restorative power of hope as we care for victims of trauma.

IMPROVING STUDENT DISCIPLINE OUTCOMES: On Tuesday, Oct. 9 and Wednesday, Oct. 10, I participated in the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s kick-off conference for the School Discipline Consensus Project in Washington, DC. The purpose of the project is to effectively manage students’ behavior and align schools’ policies to support student engagement and learning, and reduce poor academic outcomes and juvenile justice contact. The conference brought together nearly 100 leading policymakers, experts and advocates from across the country. Thanks to the CSG for offering this opportunity to improve outcomes for students and for sponsoring participation in the conference. Thanks also to Atlantic Philanthropies, the NoVo Foundation and the California Endowment for their support of the project. Click here to learn more about this initiative.

GRAFFITI ABATEMENT: Today, Keep Manatee Beautiful will host School Art in Pride Park, a fence-art celebration to promote neighborhood spirit and the police-community relationship. Pride Community Park in Bradenton is chronically targeted for graffiti by gangs and other “taggers.” Last month, Keep Manatee Beautiful matched a Keep America Beautiful-Graffiti Hurts grant of $2,500 to provide supplies to five public elementary and middle schools in the Pride Park and nearby Ten Oaks neighborhoods. Students painted over the park’s graffiti-plagued fence with designs based on the concept “What my neighborhood means to me.” The Manatee County Utilities Department Solid Waste-Recycling Section donated 45 gallons of paint collected at the landfill, and Faith Bradburn Keller, an award-winning artist and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, joined the schools’ paintings with a unifying design.

Since 2008, DJJ has partnered with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit, the Manatee County School District and Keep Manatee Beautiful in a graffiti abatement effort, as part of DJJ’s Gang-Free Initiative. Youth on probation perform community service by painting over graffiti. Art from the “Graffiti Hurts” poster contest for local students was placed on bus benches to promote the Manatee Sheriff’s Office graffiti hotline. The partnership also organizes community “paint-out days.” Nearby residents paint over graffiti and often create murals, which are rarely defaced, to support a sense of community pride. Thanks to our friends and community partners for working to reduce gang activity!

CIRCUIT 2 TEEN SUMMIT: Thanks to Prevention Special Projects Manager Verla Lawson-Grady, Chief Probation Officer Vicki Cunniff, Assistant Chief Probation Officer (CPO) Linda Eason and other Prevention and Probation staff for collaborating on a youth summit hosted by the Leon County Public Safety Coordinating Council (PSCC) on Saturday, Oct. 13. More than 200 teens attended the event at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center. The summit addressed the importance of education and speakers offered advice on dealing with bullying, cyber bullying, gang violence, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease prevention and testing. Wanda Finnie, assistant secretary of Prevention and Victim Services, joined Leon County Judge Ronald W. Flury, Gadsden County Judge Kathy L. Garner, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, DJJ faith partner Gary Montgomery, and International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud in addressing the youth. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee Police Department, Tallahassee Parks and Recreation, and Florida Youth Challenge Academy joined DJJ in supporting the program. Special thanks to the Circuit 2 JPOs and probation youth who assisted with set-up and clean-up. Kudos to all who made this fun and educational event a success!

HOME BUILDERS INSTITUTE (HBI) UPDATE: Recently, I shared information about HBI Mentoring that helps youth prepare for employment. Here is more on other HBI activities that impact DJJ and at-risk youth:

YOUTH JOBS – HBI contracts with DJJ Probation and organizations for at-risk youth to provide job training. Between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011, HBI found employment for 172 DJJ youth, as well as 102 YouthBuild and Job Corps participants. In total, HBI secured job placements for 274 young people!

A DOOR TO A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP (DGNS) – HBI Orlando is partnering with Rebuilding Together Orlando and The Mustard Seed to provide beds to children in need in Orange County. HBI students built frames for 11 single beds and 1 bunk bed that were then decorated by local artists B. Renee Fine Art, Claire Bryant, NateK Fine Art, MazerDesign, Cindy Offenback, Nancy Valencia, Amy Watkins and students from Lake Mary High School. The beds will be auctioned via website. Click here for the DGNS Facebook page. Thanks to HBI and the DJJ youth who strengthened their skills by helping a worthy charity!

PROBATION KUDOS: Congratulations to Circuit 10 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Shandrin Tollie for being inducted into the Northwood University Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held in Michigan on Oct. 6. He was hailed by his alma mater as “the player who ‘put Northwood football on the map.’” For well over a decade, Shandrin has held the Timberwolves’ records for total passing yards (4,442), the most passing yards in a single season (1,862) and scoring (250 points). He led Northwood to two consecutive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, the university’s first conference titles in 22 seasons and the school’s first ever NCAA playoff berth. Shandrin started with DJJ as an intern and has been a probation officer for ten years.

SAFETY UPDATE: Good news! First reports of injury/illness decreased in September, with a 50 percent drop in non-high-risk categories. This indicates managers are discussing safety prevention with employees.  Thanks to all employees for continuing to put safety first!

Thanks to all the individuals, faith and community organizations, and employees who give their time and efforts to help children.




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.