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Secretary's Message

September 26, 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

UF Law Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, Mark Greenwald and I were honored to join Director of the Missouri Children’s Division Tim Decker for a panel discussion, “Kids Not Inmates: reforming Juvenile Justice,” held at the University of Florida Law School in Gainesville. The presentation was well attended and received by the community and law students alike. As many of you know, we are striving to make our state a national model in juvenile justice reform and many of our current initiatives are already working toward that goal. 

Circuit 2 Meeting and Tour

On Thursday, I met with probation staff from Circuit 2 here in Tallahassee. This meeting consisted of discussions regarding community needs and our continued reform efforts, including initiatives that were working well and also challenges we still face.  I would like to thank all of the staff that participated in these meetings and for sharing their insight and knowledge.  

In addition, I was able to tour AMIKids Tallahassee as well as the Tallahassee Urban League. As you know AMIKids is a non-profit organization that provides our communities’ kids with the opportunity to transform into responsible young adults.  Their mission is to protect public safety and positively impact as many youth as possible. The Tallahassee Urban League is a community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Both of these wonderful organizations are probation and prevention providers and we are gracious for their support.

Civil Citation Webinar

On Monday, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and OJJDP hosted a webinar on Civil Citation which was presented by our own Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts and Director of Research Mark Greenwald. More than 600 attendees, representing forty states, learned about Florida’s Civil Citation statute, process, benefits, implementation and supporting research and data. The webinar has been posted to the CJJ website and can be viewed by clicking here.

Employee Kudos

I would like to commend Doris Strong from the Office of Finance and Accounting for her work within her community to foster reconciliation between the victims of crimes and the perpetrators who commit them. Doris, a DJJ employee for 14 years, experienced the loss of her father who was brutally murdered by her step-brother. After receiving counseling, Doris decided to take action by becoming involved with restorative justice where the victim meets face-to-face with inmates to discuss what happened to loved ones and to answer questions the inmates have; allowing all parties to review the events and learn to deal with life issues and work towards prevention of such reoccurrences within the community as a whole.  On September 12, she spoke with the inmates at the Wakulla Correctional Institution in Crawfordville on the issue of restorative justice and feels like she has gained some peace in the process. Doris was asked by the staff to come speak with the inmates again. She hopes the inmates will participate in the restorative justice program so that they can become better citizens and leave the prison to become more respectful of others and accountable for their own actions.

Residential Update

Shown left:  Kristine’s participant number and t-shirt for the run. Shown right:  More than 1,200 runners gathered at the Jacksonville Landing where the run began and ended.

Kudos to Kristine Harshaw, a unit director at the Union Juvenile Residential Facility (a nonsecure program for males, ages 12 to 19, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC), for raising $245 for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) through personal sponsors via the WWP website and a $100 match from Sequel.  Kristine came in 12th out of 56 runners in her age bracket in the 8K Run in Jacksonville on Saturday, September 8.  Out of the 1,200 runners, she placed 64th overall.  Congratulations, Kristine!

Frances Walker Halfway House (FWHH), a nonsecure program for females, ages 13 to 18, located in Titusville and operated by Aspire Health Partners Inc., has a program angel in the human form of Sheryl Lucas.  Sheryl adopted the program about five years ago and has been enriching the lives of the girls in the program ever since.

Left: Sheryl Lucas, volunteer extraordinaire, poses for a photo at the FWHH Prom. 

She funded and supervised the creation of the program’s Butterfly Garden—a peaceful place where the residents find solace in the growing beauty.  Many of the young ladies find that the Butterfly Garden is grounding for them as they work the soil, weed, and care for the plants.  They get a sense of accomplishment as they see the fruits of their labors in the form of healthy, mature plants that attract butterflies.  Sheryl comes to the program on Saturdays and guides the girls in caring for the garden.  

Above: Sheryl guides the girls in their care of the Butterfly Garden.

She also started a Crochet Club in the program where she taught the girls to crochet large blankets for the troops that were sent overseas, lap blankets for seniors at a local rehabilitation center, and baby blankets that were donated to Wuesthoff Hospital for newborn babies.  

Right:  Sheryl and the young ladies of FWHH, crocheting lap blankets for senior citizens.

In addition, she and her church, Discovery Church, have generously raised funds for the program throughout the years.  They hold an annual rummage sale at the church that benefits both FWHH and boys at Brevard Group Treatment Home.  She encourages parishioners to donate on a weekly basis to a fund she has set up and manages for the FWHH.  These funds help supply the Points Store (a key part of the program’s behavior management system), field trips, and fun day activities such as having a giant water slide.

The young ladies at FWHH feel that Sheryl cares about them as individuals; she provides a gift bag for each girl to open on her birthday.  Sheryl also is an active member of the FWHH Community Advisory Board. 

Prevention Update

Last Saturday the Palmer Munroe Teen Center (PMTC) held a fundraising Bazaar in Tallahassee. Last year, PMTC began the tradition of taking local college bound youth on a college tour trip. The tour was an educational and entertaining experience for the teens, allowing them to view college campuses and the local cultural artifacts. In 2013, they visited colleges and universities of Central Florida. This year, they’re planning to visit institutions of higher learning in Atlanta, Georgia.

To help defray some costs of the upcoming travel, PMTC held a car wash, food sale and garage sale. They raised over $1,300.00. PMTC staff, PMTC teen participants and Godby High School JROTC students, all worked together to make the event a success. Volunteers worked together to prepare and serve the food sale items (which consisted of fried fish, chicken wings, hot dog combos and other yummy snacks); sort, price and sell garage sale items; and wash cars. They even accepted donations from passers-by headed to the Florida State University vs. Clemson football game.

They had an abundance of donations for the garage sale, which included several televisions, lamps, home decor, electronics, tons of clothing and over 100 pairs of shoes. At the end of the bazaar, items that did not sell were donated to a local Goodwill store.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended an Office of Program Accountability meeting on Wednesday in Madison County where Beverly Brown was the keynote speaker. Ms. Brown is an attorney at Three Rivers Legal Services, a local, non-profit corporation that provides free civil legal services to low-income, eligible clients in 17 counties throughout North Florida. Their mission is to provide quality legal assistance to the poor, abused, disabled and elderly of North Florida and to empower and educate them through preventive legal education.

In the attached photo, Onazina Washington (standing at far right) and other participants at Wednesday’s Shares Services meeting.

Daniel’s Kids in Jacksonville, a DJJ Prevention provider that provides assistance for homeless youth, received a makeover on September 15. Volunteers renovated the Project Prepare transitional living unit so Daniel’s Kids can continue to provide housing for homeless or abandoned 16 to 21-year-olds and prepare them for the future. Volunteers from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors’ Community Affairs Task Force completed the renovations. Each of the twelve 240-square-foot apartments received a fresh coat of paint, with new furniture, beds and new appliances.

“They picked my program out of all of the places and it is a great way to celebrate our 130th anniversary by revitalizing one of our important programs,” said Project Prepare director Shelly Davalos.

“Everybody has really jumped in,” Realtors’ association spokeswoman Melanie Green said of the 80-100 volunteers who helped renovate the village. “They know it is not just giving a handout, but really helping prepare the teens for the future.”

Through the years, as the community’s needs have changed, so has Daniel’s Kids. The agency has evolved from an orphanage in the late 1800s, to an organization that provides services through 14 programs to nearly 2,000 children and families daily. Some of these services include a residential treatment facility, foster care, counseling, delinquency intervention, and independent living.  Daniel’s Kids is also home to Florida’s Statewide Adoption Information Center and Daniel Academy, a specialized school on Daniel’s Belfort Road campus.

The Project Prepare program was started in 1987 for homeless or abandoned youth. Housed at the Independent Living Village, youth gain life-skills education. The program mandates that they attend school, work, partake in community service and attend independent-living courses. About 75 homeless youth go through the program each year.

Last week, the Circuit Advisory Board in Circuit 17 held a retreat at the Broward County Main Library in Ft. Lauderdale to begin planning and developing their Circuit Advisory Board 3-Year Comprehensive Plan. The retreat was coordinated by Joel Smith, Consultant, and facilitated by Teresa Anderson and Mona Gordon, both of the Broward County Human Services Department. In addition to the Circuit 17 CAB members participating, Cassandra Evans, Chief Probation Officer for Circuit 17; Marie Boswell, Delinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 11, 15, 16, & 17, and Joseph Seeber, Regional Detention Center Superintendent were in attendance.  

In the attached photo, Mona Gordon, Facilitator, Broward County Human Services Department; from left to right: Yolanda Brown, Circuit 17 CAB member; David Watkins, Circuit 17 CAB member; Maria Schneider, Assistant State Attorney-Juvenile Division and Circuit 17 CAB member; Marsha Ellison, Circuit 17 CAB Chair; Commissioner Lois Wexler, Circuit 17 CAB member; Back Row:  Joel Smith, Consultant; Andrea Knowles, Legislative Aide to Representative Gwendolen Clarke-Reed; Alicia Borders, Secretary Specialist, DJJ.

Last Thursday, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene attended a panel discussion entitled “The Plight of our Girls,” at the Children’s Board in Tampa. In order to explore the root causes of the challenges facing girls and young women in Florida and elsewhere, (such as drug use, teenage pregnancy and human trafficking), subject matter experts gathered to discuss ideas to assist the young people in overcoming difficulties and leading healthy and productive lives.

"The Plight of our Girls" was sponsored by Crystal Bailes at GEMS: Girls Empowered Mentally for Success, Inc. The moderator was Denise White, a FOX television news anchor.

Panelists included: Deborah Austin, Director of Outreach & Communication, REACHUP, Inc.; Tanya Johnson, NAACP, WIN Chair; Natasha Nascimento, Redefining Refuge (safe house for human trafficking victims); Conchita Canty-Jones, Director of Sanchez Full Service Centers; Barbara McCormick, Director of Alpha House; Tanya Hollins, Director of Hillsborough County Pace Center for Girls; Constance Daniels, Attorney; and Edie Rhea, Healing Root Ministry.

The Office of Prevention and Victim Services donated school supplies and toiletry items for the youth at Capital City Youth Services. In recognizing September as National Youth Court Month, Prevention’s donations will aid Leon County Teen Court, who partnered with Capital City Youth Services (CCYS), Inc., to collect much needed supplies for school students.

In an effort to support this program in continuing to provide quality high-impact services, team members donated paper, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, hand sanitizer, lotion, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, hand wipes and other supplies. CCYS provides emergency shelter and counseling services to youth in crisis throughout the Big Bend area in North Florida.

In the attached photo, Teen Court, Program Director, Quenita C. White, with the box of supplies donated by Prevention team members for CCYS youth.

Last Friday, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis and Circuit 1 JPOS Mary Grier attended a Youth Empowerment Lock-In at the Deliverance Tabernacle Life Center in Pensacola. Lydia and Mary facilitated a “Know the Law” presentation for youth who participated . The lock-in started at 9 p.m. Friday and ended at 7 a.m. Saturday. Youth in attendance ranged in ages from 10 to 18-years-old.  For the first two hours of the lock-in, youth were separated into two groups, the Pre-Teen Group for youth aged 10 to 12-years-old and the Teen Group for youth 13 to 18-years-old. The Pre-Teen Group attended presentations on Bullying, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), and Pregnancy and Youth while the Teen Group attended presentations on Juvenile Crime, STD’s, Teen Pregnancy, Appropriate Touches and Dating Violence. Presentations were structured to bring awareness to the social issues that plague youth and in many cases derail them from achieving their dreams and goals.  The goal for the lock-in was to strengthen youth skills so they know how to effectively make decisions, interact positively with their peers, and become change agents in their communities.

In the attached photo, JPO Supervisor Mary Grier (left) and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis facilitate a “Know the Law” presentation for the Youth Empowerment Lock-In

Restoring Hope for Youth and Communities Summit

In the attached photo (from left to right): Pat McGhee, Chief Adrienne Conwell, Lawanta Stewart, Tina Borst, Craig Swain, Pastor Cindy Lane, Hazel Hudson, Pastor Shurrea Daniels, and Brandi Winans at the Circuit 6 Faith Summit

Last Saturday, the Circuit 6 Faith Community Steering Committee hosted the Restoring Hope for Youth and Communities Summit in St. Petersburg. The summit was held to increase awareness of DJJ’s reform efforts and to illustrate how these initiatives are reflected through local and statewide faith community partnership resources through mentoring and networking. Approximately 100 people attended the Summit that featured National Championship and Super Bowl Winner Michael Clayton as keynote speaker. The Summit also highlighted DJJ reforms focusing on prevention, Civil Citation, mentoring, increasing parental engagement and transitioning youth from foster care to success.

A youth panel consisting of Charles Britt Academy, Homebuilders Institute, and Ready for Life, Inc. introduced youth who were positively influenced by mentoring. Breakout sessions included presentations by various DJJ staff including , Theda Roberts, Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator; Audrey “Pat” McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; Craig Swain, Faith Network Coordinator/DMC Specialist; and Yvonne Maffia, Circuit Advisory Board Liaison. 

Special thanks goes to the Circuit 6 Faith Steering Committee: Pastor Cindy Lane, Committee Chair, JFJ Global Ministries; Pastor Shurrea Daniels, Summit Co-Chair, Kingdom Restoration; Brandi Winans, Summit Co-Chair, Day for Our Children, Inc.; Tina Borst, JAM Gives Hope, Inc.; Kathy Lee, Christian Association of Youth Mentoring & Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg; Pastor Martin Rainey, Parent Support for Education Council, Inc.; Jackie Thomas, Community & Educational Outreach/Florida Re-Entry Academy; Pastor Norma Fontaine-Philbert, Garden of Grace Ministries; Deogory Harris, Fifth Avenue Church of Christ; Delceta Soberanis, Delceta Coaching Ministries; Hazel Hudson, DJJ Circuit 6 Reform Specialist; and Lawanta Stewart, DJJ Circuit 6 Faith Liaison/Juvenile Probation Officer for organizing this successful event.

Other staff that helped with the summit include:  Tonya Mathis, Juvenile Probation Officer; Yvonne Ortiz, Karin Popkowski, and Marilyn Walker, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors; and Jill Gould, Probation Special Projects. Chief Probation Officer, Adrienne Conwell served as advisor to the Faith and Community Network Steering Committee.

Detention Update

This week Dr. Joseph Tomassone, a 25 year veteran in Clinical and Child Psychology from Rochester, NY, provided mental health training to Central Region Detention staff along with staffs from Alachua, Collier, Marion and Broward detention facilities and Circuit 10 probation staff. Dr. Tomassone helped staff understand the mental health needs of youth in our system, the impact that trauma may have on our youth, and meeting the needs of our youth while adhering to correctional mandates. 

The Office of Detention Services would like to welcome Erica Ceska as our new Dietitian. Erica has worked as a Registered Dietitian in various settings including: Nutritious Lifestyles, Capital Regional Medical Center, Sunland Developmental Disability Center, Weems Memorial Hospital, and Eden Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  Over the past few years, she has worked with the Wakulla County Schools ensuring their menus meet state and federal guidelines.  Erica will be DJJ’s point person for communications regarding the National School Lunch Program.  

Last Friday, the Orange RJDC welcomed guest speaker Shanna Tyson to the facility. Shanna was convicted of armed robbery and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Shanna used her own life experience to tell our youth what life in prison was like and how difficult it was for her to find a job and to put the pieces of her life back together after prison. She encouraged our youth not to make the same mistakes she did. The kids were extremely attentive and asked many questions. 

Thank you to Irene Carrero (above left) and Evelyne Guerrier-Blaise (above right), both juvenile detention officers at Southwest RJDC, for going above and beyond recently. These two women showed significant compassion and support for a young lady who was detained in their center. I know your actions will have significant impact for this youth for many years to come!

This week, the North Region Detention Services team and the Office of Staff Development and Training held a two-day leadership development training at the Duval RJDC in Jacksonville. This training was designed to create cohesiveness for the new administrative team which included the facility superintendent, assistant superintendents and shift supervisors. It helped to develop and enhance skills such as delegating authority, professionalism, effective communication, problem solving and team work. Detention Staff would like to thank Jacqui Hagan for leading this presentation. 

The Office of Detention Services was featured in the fall edition of the newsletter Trauma Matters, which is a publication produced by the Connecticut Women’s Consortium and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The newsletter shares one of our detention facilities normalcy projects. To view the publication, click here.

Probation Update

The following story comes to us from Project Connect, a DJJ provider that specializes in transition services. It was written by Transition Specialist Ari Forrester in Circuit 4 concerning life coaches who are community volunteers that help in post-commitment probation or conditional release. It reads:

Why I Love Life Coaches!  

I was working to help get a youth enrolled in a local charter school last week after the school district transition coordinator and I determined the public school he was enrolled in wasn't the best place for him to succeed.  While there, we learned he would have to wear uniforms.  He began to worry about how they were going to get him things to wear.  I told him not to worry and that we would figure something out.  I called his Project Connect Life Coach after I took him home and asked if she had any friends in the community that could help us out.  Before I could even get off the phone with her, she was in the car heading to meet me.  We went and got the youth new school clothes and new school supplies and a backpack.  She even packed him lunches in his backpack for the first week of school so he wouldn't have to worry about not having food or money for lunch.  With her help we were able to provide him with a new pillow and sheet set so he could get a good night’s sleep for school.  I was so grateful to her and when I went by the youth’s new school the next day, he had a big smile on his face, wearing his new backpack with a lunch inside!  I love working with volunteers from the community like this!  It’s very encouraging for the youth and staff when volunteers from the community participate in a youth’s transition.    

JPOS Paul Armstrong, SJPO Fred Vrgora and Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson from Circuit 16 participated in a community conversation last Tuesday at the Monroe County Public Library in Marathon. Paul provided those in attendance with an overview of our agency; outlining the divisions and processes a youth and their family experience once they make contact. Fred spoke on DJJ’s local office in Marathon and the services they offer. Elaine briefed the attendees on the Roadmap, Faith Network, GAAP Events and EPICS. Probation’s family engagement video was shown to parents which was followed by a question and answer period.

Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq participated in the second Youth Coach Committee orientation at the PACE Center for Girls in Immokalee on Monday. The committee is comprised of various business and community leaders and focuses on the individual needs of each girl before they make their way into the job market. The girls participated in the discussion of financial literacy, resume-writing, job applications, job interviews and decision-making. The girls were very interactive and asked numerous questions in regards to steps of finding part-time employment, writing legible resumes and/or applications, how to dress appropriately and professionally for job interviews and discussing or sharing their skills, qualities and abilities to take on a job.

On Tuesday, Lut met with Lee County Juvenile Circuit Judge Nicholas Thompson along with representatives from the State Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office to discuss the Department’s reform efforts focusing on transitional services and intervention services. Lut also discussed the implementation of Life Skills Training for Lee County as well as the importance of youth’s participation in a Young Driver’s Program that is being offered once per month for 3 hours.

ACPO John Hancock from Circuit 3 was the guest speaker at the Lake City Downtown Rotary meeting held last Wednesday. John provided an overview of the Department’s current initiatives and encouraged members to become active in transitional opportunities such as mentoring, employing youth and participating in reentry meeting with youth in the community.

On Tuesday, Alachua County held their third Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) parents and boys group session. The boys learned about effective ways to deal with their anger while the parents discussed listening and giving effective directions. Statewide Reform Coordinator Kara Ahearn facilitated this meeting with Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman and Gubernatorial Fellow Abby Novak providing technical assistance. The parents and boys in attendance have demonstrated good progress and say that using the skills they learned in SNAP class has helped in reducing household conflict. 

In the attached photo:  Officer Sandy Teasley, School Counselor and SRO Shannon Pettit, Statewide Reform Coordinator Kara Ahearn, Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman, Parent and son attending session, SJPO Charlotte McGill, and Gubernatorial Fellow Abby Novak.  Not pictured:  CPO Diane Pearson.

Circuit 4 JPO Darrell Cope and his son Michael participated in the “Family Day-Gather Around the Family Table,” last Thursday in Jacksonville. This initiative, sponsored by the Gateway Family Council and the Drug Free Duval Coalition, emphasized the need for families to eat dinner together often. The idea is for the dinner table to be a place where families can talk about school, work, making good choices and steering kids away from drugs and alcohol. Darrell and eight other Duval families were awarded a gift certificate for their participation which was presented by State Senator Aaron Bean

Last Wednesday, SJPO Maggie Starr and JPO Sabrina Varo from Circuit 17 attended a Juvenile Lecture at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD). This lecture is part of a series that was created by Detective Rafael Bouyett of the FLPD and is intended to educate our youth regarding the consequences of their actions and lets them hear firsthand from members of the community who have experienced the same situations. This lecture featured Maria Schneider from the Broward State Attorney’s office who spoke on the current laws and policies as it applies to juveniles and featured representatives from the Henderson Behavioral Mental Health and the PACE Center for Girls who spoke about their own run-ins with the law. 

JPO Dennis Flory and the Sumter Unit staff from Circuit 5 received two thank you cards from a youth and grandmother.  The note to Dennis read, “Thanks for everything, we just want you to know how much you mean to us and all your help you gave us, and now we have a new friend, we will always be so thankful for you. Hope to see you sometime, but not for the reason we have in the past.”  


The note to the staff read,  “To each of the office workers who helped with my grandsons case, we thank you all so very much. Linda thank you for all your help with all that paperwork you did for me. We made new friends there.”

Marion County Probation Staff from Circuit 5 held a Community Reentry Team (CRT) meeting last Thursday in Ocala. The CRT meeting is held every month and brings community stakeholders together with a common goal of seamlessly reintegrating every youth served. A total of 27 stakeholders were in attendance for this meeting. 

Present in the photo are JPOS Adrian Mathena, Marion County Education Liaison Ann Busby, Reform Specialist Randy Reynolds, Transition Specialist Frank Major, Transition Specialist Tijuana Woods, Faith Partner Michael Maddox, Statewide Faith Coordinator Craig Swain, Circuit Advisory Board Liaison Yvonne Maffia, JPOS Ashley Sears, JPO Edward Harris and SJPO Sabrina Prater.

SD&T’s Redesigned Homepage

The Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) is proud to present our new home page! It has a user-friendly format that makes it easy to access learning tools and see the latest SD&T news, SkillPro-related info and instructor-led sessions (classes). You will find all this and more! Check us out: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/services/support/office-of-staff-development-training