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Secretary's Message

November 17, 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

Probation Update

Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson from Circuit 16 participated with our Faith Network partner the Fifth Street Baptist Church of Key West in a Trunk or Treat event on Halloween night which provided a safe Halloween experience for the youth in Monroe County. Elaine and her husband Gary turned the back of their vehicle into a fishing hole where young fishers received snacks of goldfish and pamphlets noting community opportunities. 

Probation staff from Circuit 16 held a Youth Focus Group for thirteen students at Key West High School. These students met with members from the Key West Police Department, Be the Change, and DJJ staff about the attitudes and perceptions that youth have toward law enforcement and vice versa. The students were very open to sharing their thoughts. They also discussed what each student’s role was in their community. DJJ and Be the Change staff provided pizza and drinks for all of the youth in attendance. 

Interstate Compact Administrator Agnes Denson attended the 2014 Interstate Commission for Juveniles (ICJ) Annual Business Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina last week. Agnes serves as the Florida representative for ICJ which gives juveniles on probation the means to carry out their court requirements in other states. The purpose of the meeting was to participate on rules decisions that will impact the operation of the Interstate Compact. Agnes was allowed to cast votes on rules that benefit our agency and the state as a whole. 

Circuit 9 JPO Aaron Rivas teamed up with the Community Hope Center and supervised probationary youth to raise money for homeless families that live off of US-192 in Osceola County behind Walt Disney World. Osceola County has some of the highest numbers of homeless families in the country. Accordingly, the Community Hope Center is a program-based project that impacts the low-income, poverty level families that live in or around Osceola’s 192 Corridor. This program will be used to restore dignity and self-sufficiency to those in need in our community through a holistic approach to case management, funds assistance, and life skills.

The program is intended to provide gap services to clients that other agencies are not currently providing and is a collaborative effort between local churches, social services agencies, Osceola County, the city governments, and community businesses. Our key partners include Community Presbyterian Church of Celebration, Osceola Council on Aging, Park Place Behavioral Health, Community Vision, Florida Hospital of Celebration, the city of Kissimmee, and Osceola County Human Services.

Prevention Update

Miami’s Mission Church Pastor George C. White, board member for the Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, hosted a cookout for Miami Bridge staff and youth on October 25 at Women’s Park in Miami. For more than 20 years, The Miami Bridge has worked to keep these kids off the streets. The Bridge is a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, food and, just as importantly, counseling for troubled youths and their families. The Bridge works to rescue kids from lives of victimization and crime, and in so doing, helps the South Florida community ensure that these kids have the opportunity to become productive members of society.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene attended the open house for the Phoenix House & the Centre for Women on November 6 in Tampa. Both organizations assist young and adult females by providing hope, knowledge and success.  The Centre for Women helps women in Tampa Bay to succeed both personally and professionally. It promotes respect, integrity, compassion, excellence and diversity. The Centre for Women has programming for young girls called The Centre 4 Girls.

Phoenix House is a nationally recognized and accredited behavioral healthcare provider, specializing in the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders and co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Phoenix House is a not-for-profit organization with more than 45 years of continuous experience and programs in nine states. Phoenix House offers outpatient drug treatment as well as residential services.  

Orland native Maryah Sullivan, who is an eleven year member of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, was named the 2014-15 National Youth of the Year at a Congressional breakfast on September 17 in Washington, D.C. Maryah is both an extremely driven club member and student. In addition to  her dedication to her Club, she has also served as President of the National Honor Society, senior class secretary, BETA club member, French honor society member,  captain of the girls track and field club, captain of the weightlifting team and 2012-13 weightlifting district champion. She maintained a 4.4 GPA at Edgewater High School and was the first person in her family to be accepted into college. Maryah is currently a freshman at the University of South Florida, majoring in biomedical sciences.

“The selection of Maryah as National Youth of the Year for our organization is more important now than ever before,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).  “With today’s generation projected to be the first not to do as well as their parents, and 1 in 5 students nationwide who won’t graduate from high school on time, the role of Boys & Girls clubs is critical.”

Sponsored by Tupperware Brands Corporation, Youth of the Year is BGCA’s premier recognition program for Club members. The program recognizes young people for their service to their community, as well as academic success and strong moral character. As the National Youth of the Year, Maryah receives up to $61,000 in academic scholarships from Tupperware Brands and the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation, as well as a new car from Toyota, a BGCA national partner.  

Last Thursday Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington, Procurement Specialist Brent Musgrove and Operations Coordinator Michael Jacobs conducted a site visit at the Youth Crisis Center (YCC) in Jacksonville. YCC is a part of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Inc. and provides residential shelter, counseling, case management, and a transitional living program for children, teens and young adults. Prevention staff had an opportunity to see the newly built residential facility that now holds up to 30 beds as well as the transitional living community that includes a police sub-station.

YCC is nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services and has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. YCC has been honored with two Presidential Commendations for Excellence and has received numerous awards by the State of Florida.  YCC provides a safety net for those in need which give hope to hundreds of youth and their families every year.

In the attached photo (from left to right): Yvonne Woodard, Federal Grants Manager; Onazina Washington, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; Pepper Peete, YCC-Director of Development; Brent Musgrove, Procurement Specialist; and Michael Jacobs, Operations Coordinator.

Detention Update

Palm Beach RJDC Douglas Kane began a community paint project on November 8-9 to help revitalize the interior of the facility. Douglas enlisted the help of volunteers from the Youth for Christ Ministries to help transform the mod in to a bright and more vibrant place similar to the future for all of our youth. Prior to the project, the building appeared dark and dismal but with this transformation the facility is creating change and inspiring hope.