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Secretary's Message

August 29, 2014

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

I am sincerely grateful for the hard work and steadfast dedication to this agency from those who work in juvenile justice across the state and I am proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice and that of our partners. I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).


Christina K. Daly

The Governor’s Corner by Governor Rick Scott

Rick ScottWe recently announced that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history. Thanks in part to the hard work of our public servants, we already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise. Our hard work is continuing to pay off- Florida’s economy is back on track, and revenues are projected to stay at a strong enough rate to support these historic investments in education.

We know a great job begins with a great education. This increase in per pupil spending will provide our dedicated teachers and school districts with the support they need to ensure our students have the opportunities to succeed in classrooms and careers. With the help of our public servants, Florida’s exciting economic growth is making these important investments possible.  Let’s keep working to create an opportunity economy for generations to come. 

Circuit Advisory Board Chair Meeting

On Monday, I attended the meeting of our Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) Chairs in Orlando.  I, along with Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie and DJJ staff, were excited to come together with our CAB Chairs and board members to discuss the progress the CABs have made and the challenges they still face.  We also discussed ways that our agency can better assist the Circuit Advisory Boards and also began work on the boards’ three year comprehensive plans. 

Overall, this was a very productive meeting and I am grateful for everyone’s involvement and for their willingness to discuss how we can better serve Florida’s youth.  

Interim Secretary Christina Daly, Assistant Sec Wanda Finnie, DJJ staff, and Chairs of the Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Boards attending the Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board Chairs meeting in Orlando. 

Also on Monday, I along with Assistant Secretary for Probation Tim Niermann met with Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors in Circuit 18, which encompasses Brevard and Seminole counties. The following day, Asst. Secretary Niermann, Director of Probation for the Central Region Cathy Lake, and myself attended a meeting with Circuit 18 Juvenile Probation Officers and Senior Juvenile Probation Officers.  Both meetings consisted of an open dialogue with staff to discuss reform efforts, including areas that were working well and also existing challenges.  I would like to thank all of the Circuit 18 staff that participated in these meetings and for sharing their insight and knowledge.  

CareerSource FL Board Meeting

Yesterday, I participated in the CareerSource FL Board of Directors meeting.  CareerSource is a statewide network of career development professionals who work directly for Florida employers to find, develop and keep qualified talent. They also invest in programs to help businesses identify and cultivate our state’s talent pool so that prospective employees have the skills and experience they seek.

The partnership with CareerSource is vital for our youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice system that are in need of jobs and additional career training.  Among the items discussed at the meeting was the 2014-15 strategic initiatives. 

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene attended a panel discussion on human trafficking in Tampa last Thursday. The panel featured Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Connie Rose, Director/Survivor Programming and Leadership with Selah Freedom: Bringing light into the darkness of modern day slavery; and Dr. Maulik Trivedi, Double Board certified Physician who specializes in the treatment of mood disorders.

According to Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking, up to 50,000 people are brought into the U.S. each year for the purposes of human trafficking and other forms of modern day slavery. Florida is one of the top three destination states within the U.S. for trafficking. The panel discussion was sponsored by the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring and WUSF Public Media. Carson Cooper from WUSF was the moderator.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady from Prevention and Operations Review Specialist Barbara Campbell from Quality Improvement manned a DJJ information booth at the Annual Grape Harvest Festival and Health Fair last Saturday at the Florida A&M Center for Viticulture. In order to educate the public about DJJ programs and initiatives, Verla and Barbara distributed brochures and responded to questions from participants at the festival. There were over 1,000 attendees and 50 vendors at this event.  

In the attached photo (from left to right): Verla Lawson-Grady (left) and Barbara Campbell pose in front of the DJJ display at the FAMU Annual Grape Harvest Festival & Health Fair

On Monday, Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington and Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended a meeting of the Whole Child Leon Professional Network at the Wesson Media Center in Tallahassee. The meeting, sponsored by the Whole Child Leon Professional Network, provided presentations relating to "The Circuit 2 Community Action Team," in addition to Community and Provider Partnerships Advocating for Children Together. The meeting was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the many organizations and agencies serving children and families in our community. It focused on improving relationships between providers and the community, increasing community engagement, encouraging the use of evidence-based practices, and improving service delivery and outcomes.  There were approximately 50 attendees.

In the attached photo, Verla Lawson-Grady (left) and Deborah Shaw, Leon County Courts Liaison and Circuit 2 Advisory Board Secretary at the meeting of the Whole Child Leon Professional Network.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee took part in the YMCA Back to School Supply Giveaway on August 16. Pat visited several local community centers where school supplies were distributed to youth throughout Pinellas County.

At the Childs Park YMCA, organizations from Tampa Bay provided parents and youth information on family services. Pat provided information to parents who had questions on prevention services and the role of the Office of Prevention and Victim Services.  At the Carter Woodson African-American Museum, youth received free school supplies. Two free bicycles were also presented to deserving youth.  The organizer of the event was Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Director of the Childs Park YMCA in St. Petersburg.

In the attached photo, Audrey “Pat” McGhee (left) provides information on DJJ programs to participants attending Back to School events at Childs Park in St. Petersburg.

The Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services Shelter, a sub-contracted CINS/FINS provider received the "Best Care Provider" award for emergency shelter services and community counseling support to youth and families throughout Miami-Dade County from the Florida Network.  According to their newsletter, “Miami Bridge and our staff of professionals work extremely hard to keep our staff and facilities at the highest quality. It is good to know that Miami Bridge is at the top of the list of shelters in Florida!”

Thanks to the Ballpark Buddies program, Bridge youth attended an exciting (winning!) Marlins game at the world class Marlins Stadium. Youth from both the Central and Homestead shelters made the trek to downtown for the game. It was hot and the roof was open but it was a special day for the Bridge youth.

Miami Bridge officials are very thankful to Packs of Love and Kiwanis Club of Little Havana for donating school supplies to their youth. All Bridge youth started the school year with new backpacks full of school supplies. Starting the school year on the right foot is important. Most of Bridge youth see school as an obstacle that is either not important or simply too hard. At The Bridge, staff work with youth to make education a priority. Both shelters have a school building for residential youth to attend. Instruction is provided by a Miami-Dade County public schools teacher.

Miami Bridge provides respite care in its two emergency shelter facilities. They serve more than 700 children each year. They provide emergency youth shelter care, non-residential family crisis intervention counseling and truancy diversion services. Its mission is to promote positive youth development, and strengthen and support families to enable children to actualize their full potential to become productive community members.

Education Update

The masonry class at AMIkids Big Cypress Institute has begun a new project constructing two pillars at the front entrance of the school. The class began the project by digging two holes on opposite ends of the driveway, pouring cement and erecting the pillars. In the first part of the project, the class used cement blocks to form the frame of the pillars and then laid brick to form the accent of the pillars. This was a very skilled and labor intensive procedure.

The students will soon begin work on the second phase of the project where they will design the AMIkids Big Cypress logo on the pillars. One student said, “We can make our own mark on Big Cypress”. Another student said “We are representing the class of Summer 2014”.

Probation Update

On Wednesday, Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson attended a Welcome Back Bash for families in Orange County presented by the Federation of Families of Central Florida (FOF). The FOF is a non-profit organization that offers support, advocacy, and education to children/youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges and to their families in Central Florida. Circuit 9 would like to thank the FOF for empowering families to utilize the System of Care and providing services and resources to improve the quality of family life.

Circuit 14 Reform Specialist Bree Thaxton participated in an in-service training for school resource officers on August 14. The training was in collaboration with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the Bay District School System. Bree discussed the upcoming school year and the importance of collaboration between the schools, resource deputies and the Department when engaging our youth.  She also provided the deputies a listing on the JPOs’ that are assigned to their particular school for the upcoming year.  The assigned JPO is an important resource for school staff and the School Resource Deputies.  She stressed the importance of using the JPOs as a resource when interacting with youth and their families.

Pictured is Bay County Sheriff Deputy Don McKay, School Resource Officer at New Horizons Learning Center and DJJ Circuit 14 Reform Specialist Bree Thaxton.

On Wednesday, The Tallahassee SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) team held its first group meeting for kids and their families. Our facilitators introduced those in attendance to SNAP and how it can be applied in their everyday lives. DJJ staff from Probation volunteered their time to assist with feeding the families and working with the siblings.  The parents gave positive feedback and appeared to be encouraged by what they would be learning.

School Resource Officer Shawn Edwards, Gubernatorial Fellow Abby Novak, Secretary Specialist Lauren Floyd, Statewide Reform Coordinator Kara Ahearn, GOC III Amy Greenwald, Reform Specialist Liz Phillips, SJPO Dawn Burns, Director of Policy and Programming Jean Becker-Powell, Probation HQ Intern Whitney Austin

Circuit 13 JPOS Delores Richardson participated in a Back to School Bash last Saturday at the Mt. Moriah and Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. All of the youth in attendance received backpacks filled with school supplies to get them prepared for the new school year. In addition, these youth participated in games and were given words of encouragement. 

Pictured with JPOS Richardson is Dr. E.L. Wiseman and Sis. L. Wiseman, Pastor and 1st Lady of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

Youth from the Paxen Community Connections of Hillsborough County participated in a vendor fair last Friday at Veteran’s Park in Tampa. These youth met with department staff while enjoying a great barbeque lunch. In addition, the youth passed out flyers and helped clean up after the event. 

Probation staff from Circuit 11 partnered with AMIkids on August 2nd and 9th to complete a beautification project at Madison Middle School in Miami. Thirty one probationary youth and fourteen staff members from DJJ and AMI worked on the project and our youth received valuable community service hours for their efforts. The kids who participated were tasked with resolving problems and communicating with each other to complete the project.

Last Thursday, the Palm Beach County JDAI Executive Committee in Circuit 15 met to discuss the status among the 6 JDAI workgroup committees. The team shared its work with DJJ staff and a representative from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Among the topics discussed were: Juvenile First Offender Program, Evening Reporting Center, Domestic Violence and the First Offender procedure.

Bottom row from left to right: RED/DMC Chair: Dr. Barbara Gerlock; Executive Chair: Judge James Martz; ACPO: Geeta Loach-Jacobson

 Top row from left to right: Assistant Secretary for Probation: Tim Niermann; Anne Casey Technical Assistant: Danielle Lipow; School Board Representative: Dallisa Rodriguez-Green; Juvenile Judge: Judge Rosemarie Scher; Special Cases Chair: Cristy Altaro; Court Administration: Jasmin Rios; Family Violence Intervention Program: Stacey King; School Board Representative: Dr. Angela Bess

Top row from left to right: CPO: Gregory Starling; Alternatives to Secure Detention Chair: ASA Lynn Powell; Director of Research & Planning, Mark Greenwald; Juvenile First Offenders Chair: Major Braxton Davis; Domestic Violence/Respite Chair: Tony Spaniol; and Gulfstream Goodwill ATSD Director: Michelle Carter.

Not pictured: Objective Case Processing Chair: PD Schnelle Tonge; JDAI Statewide Coordinator, Colleene Scott; and Palm Beach County JDAI Coordinator: Kathy Demosthenes.  

Detention Update

Students at the Marion RJDC were hard at work this week in the areas of science and math. Last week, science teacher Dennis Umholtz conducted a science project in class where they discussed states of matter and learned about suspension using corn starch and water. The project was a success and the kids had a wonderful time.

In addition, math teacher Ann Sliney held an online math competition with her students to help improve their order of operation skills. Four students received prizes for the competition and all of the students did a fantastic job. 

Superintendents from the North Region were at DJJ Headquarters on Tuesday for their quarterly meeting and three superintendents were recognized for their years of distinguished service. These three superintendents, pictured with Director Dixie Fosler and Detention Chief Sheddrick Brooks are: Daryl Johnson from the Duval RJDC and Victoria Lenentine from the Okaloosa RJDC who are both celebrating their 15th year of service with DJJ. Christi Stua from the Marion RJDC was also honored for celebrating her tenth year with the agency. Congratulations to all three of you for your dedication and service. 

Residential Update

Northwest Regional Residential Services Holds PRN Workshop

Last Friday, the Northwest Regional Office of Residential Services hosted a workshop for case managers and transition specialists to reduce the number of denials received from the courts in response to Pre-Release Notifications (PRN).  The overarching goal of the workshop was to help residential case managers and transition specialists produce quality reports, increase stakeholder confidence, and reduce PRN denials. 

In order to achieve this goal, a panel of subject matter experts—including members of the judiciary and a Master RPACT Trainer—was assembled at the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) in Chipley.  The workshop began with users of the performance and release summaries and ended with suggestions of how to produce a quality product that would net a greater number of release request approvals.

The workshop was well attended with every residential program represented:  JoAnn Bridges Academy—Case Managers Tracey Williams and Geneva Thomas, Ram-C—APD Tynisha Haynes and Case Manager Sjada Guyton, JUST—Case Managers Genie Omel, Chelarishi Rivera and Zachary Ward,  DOVE Academy—Transition Specialist Jerrai Vance and Case Manager Vallis Dunn, Walton Youth Development Center—Delora Evans, Dorothee Carlson and Teashas Thibodeau, Okaloosa Youth Development Center—Transition Specialist Meghan Lee, Case Managers Charles Mason and Vonshell Vann, Okaloosa Youth Academy—Case Managers Fareedah Thompson, Shanan Gerber, Brenda Bain and Keinna Wrentz, and Escambia Boys Base—Case Manager Daniel Hernandez. 

Also in attendance were staff members from Project Connect—Area Director Celena Hayes, Coordinator Davin Baxter and Nicole Rodriguez (who is also Director of the Tabula Rasa Chapter of the Boys & Girls Club), DJJ staff members from Circuits 1 and 14 Probation—CPO Paul Wallis, CPO Wanda Jackson, ACPO Marcia Reightnour, JPOS Charlene Miller, DJJ headquarters staff members from the offices of Residential Services and Probation & Community Intervention, as well as the Northwest Regional Office of Residential Services—OMC Manager Candy Seifert, Commitment Management Supervisor April Lewis, Lead Commitment Manager Sean Dorsey, Commitment Managers Shauntrai Bruton and Amy Daglish, Operations Review Specialist Dwight Poole, Government Operations Consultant II Neil Stier, and Senior Management Analyst II Lori Jernigan.

Workshop participants benefitted from the insights of The Hon. Allen Register, 14th Judicial Circuit; Circuit 5 Reform Specialist Randy Reynolds; Statewide Transition Specialist Sanshell Bussey, and Master RPACT Trainer Gale Wire, from Eckerd Youth Alternatives E-Nini-Hassee program.

 For a full recap of this informative workshop, please click here.


The Department continues its effort to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  This week, the PREA website was redesigned to provide to include training materials, assessment information, auditing tools and data collection.  Please visit the new pages found online at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/prison-rape-elimination-act-(prea).

Audits for residential and detention facilities in the Central Region are in full swing. 

Congratulations to Youth Environmental Services (YES) for passing the PREA audit.  Joe Chestnut and his staff are to be commended for their efforts.  YES joins Kissimmee JCF and Les Peters Academy as the third juvenile justice program in Florida to successfully complete the PREA audit.  Great job! 

The facility currently is certified as being in compliance with all of the PREA Standards.  Those standards and tools to prepare for a PREA audit may be found on the Web at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/prison-rape-elimination-act-(prea)/auditing-tools.

Office of Program Accountability Update

On August 18th, the Provider Management Shared Services program went live in our North Region. This means we are now live with Shared Services across our state! The goal of the new delivery system is to have all program areas use a shared service organization to handle contract management and planned monitoring activities. Instead of a “one size fits all” approach, we will be able to better allocate DJJ employee resources, which will increase effectiveness as well as give us more credibility with our stakeholders. We will be able to provide better services to our program areas and providers, whose resources will then again be freed up to provide better services to youth. This is quite an accomplishment and we want to take a minute to thank all of you for making this happen! 

 Juvenile Detention Officer Graduation Ceremonies

Congratulations to the newest DJJ detention officers (JDOs), who graduated today in separate ceremonies at Valencia College, in Orlando, and Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center, in Jacksonville. Thanks to Frank Gargett, our new central region director for detention services, for delivering the graduation address in Orlando, and Sheddrick Brooks, chief of operations for detention services in the north region, for addressing the graduating class in Jacksonville. Kudos to Tanesha Blackmon and Artavia Parrish of the Office of Staff Development and Training, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work at the regional juvenile detention center (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center JDO class

Left to right: Michael Washington– Duval RJDC, Davy Hernandez– Duval RJDC, David Medina-Marion RJDC,  Joshua Watson-Alachua RJDC, Susan Monkoski-Duval RJDC, Shawntell Jackson-Duval RJDC, Delmar Reese–Duval RJDC and Christopher Atkins-Duval RJDC.

Valencia College JDO class

Left to right: Hajah Jaward - Orange RJDC, Juan Almeida – Orange RJDC, Walter Johnson – Orange RJDC, Sarah Legg – Hillsborough RJDC, Lindsay Wight – Orange RJDC, Valeta Greene – Orange RJDC, Kendra Smith - Orange RJDC, Bruce MacLeod – Brevard RJDC, Thomas Trasso – Orange RJDC, and Clifton Woods – Orange RJDC.