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Secretary's Message

January 5, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Happy New Year! I hope these first few days of 2016 have been peaceful and relaxing and that you’ve enjoyed spending time in the company of your family and loved ones. Now that the New Year is upon us, I look forward to what is ahead for our agency and for all the exciting things this year will bring.  Mostly, I am excited to continue the work we have begun in turning around the lives of Florida’s at risk youth. A new year brings with it new possibilities and even change, but I know the dedication and compassion you all have for the youth and families in our care will remain constant in 2016. I look forward to continuing to work with each of you and thank you for your commitment to our communities and to our state.

As always, I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich our 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. 


Christina K. Daly

Office of Health Services Update 

Last week, Dr. Gayla Sumner and Joy Bennink of the Office of Health Services traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the 10th Annual Models for Change National Working Conference.   Models for Change is hosted by the MacArthur Foundation and supported by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. The conference is designed to bring together juvenile justice leaders and practitioners to share cutting-edge advancements in the field.  Dr. Sumner provided an update on the DJJ and WFSU collaboration to video-record the Mental Health Training Curriculum for Juvenile Justice (MHTC-JJ) during the Mental Health Joint Meeting convened by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice on December 13th.

Also in attendance at the Models for Change Conference was former DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters pictured left with Gayla Sumner and Joy Bennink. 

Detention Update 

The local Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA), a long time DJJ faith-based partner, paid a special Christmas visit to the youth at the Bay RJDC on December 17. The CMA holds a long standing meeting at Bay once a month to share a friendly word with all of the youth that want to hear it. During this visit, the CMA came bearing gifts of cookies, cupcakes and homemade Christmas cards. We are all thankful for wonderful faith partners, like CMA, who continue to seek out ways to support and encourage our youth and our officers.

Reverend Brinson, a minister and a steadfast member of the DJJ Faith Network, makes regular visits to the Alachua RJDC to speak to the youth at the facility. Each year at Christmas he makes a stop at the facility to donate gifts to the youth. In addition to the gifts, Brinson spoke with the youth and explained to them that it’s never too late to turn their lives around. Brinson speaks from a place of truth as he was a juvenile delinquent himself and was in prison for nine years before changing his life around for the better.  

I am pleased to share with you the dramatic transformation pictures from the hallways of the Miami-Dade RJDC. The new paint and bright colors are a part of our trauma-informed care initiative, which can have a calming effect on the youth as we work to make the facility nurturing and youth-centered. 

On December 17, the staff at the Miami-Dade RJDC enjoyed their annual holiday breakfast and gift exchange. Both the A and C shift enjoyed a hot breakfast that consisted of fried fish, grits, bacon and scrambled eggs as well as coffee and orange juice. This was a fantastic time for fellowship that really brought the officers at the facility closer together. 

The staff from the Miami-Dade RJDC also recently sponsored a food basket and turkey giveaway for the holiday season. Many of the youth at the facility come from less fortunate families and the staff wanted to ensure that they had a hot holiday meal. Many of the families were not able to pick up their baskets at the detention center so our officers went directly into their communities to deliver the baskets to them. Staff distributed food to seven families which included a turkey and all the trimmings. 

The staff from the Broward RJDC came up with a festive and fun idea to get the kids interested in the holiday season with their first ever “Chimney” Decorating Contest. The girls and boys at the facility constructed paper chimneys and decorated them with handmade stockings and other seasonal items. The participants from the top three entries were treated to a special holiday meal for their efforts. 

Prevention Update

The PACE Center for Girls of Pasco County joined over 650 members of the Pasco community to participate in the inaugural “Out of Darkness” Community Walk, benefitting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on November 7 in New Port Richey. This American Foundation for Suicide Prevention nationwide event was held to prevent suicide, raise awareness, and end the stigma that surrounds depression and other mental health disorders. As a Center, PACE Pasco raised 100 and collected beads that participants wore to show their personal connection to suicide and mental health issues.

Spirited Girls! classes created posters during Suicide Awareness Month with statistics and messages of hope that were distributed for other teams to carry during the walk. The PACE Pasco participants made team shirts to honor loved ones lost to suicide.

Faith Coordinator Craig Swain and the Faith Network partners in Circuit 11 attended the Circuit 11 Faith Forum on December 12 in Miami-Dade County. The forum was held at the Hebrews 13:3 ministry facility. DJJ Offices of Prevention and Probation participated in this event and spoke to the attendees about opportunities available to engage the youth and families we serve.  

In the above photo, Craig Swain (standing at left) joins other members of the Circuit 11 Faith Forum in Miami-Dade County.

The PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville partnered with Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida to participate in the Girls on the Run 5K on December 5 on the campus of the University of North Florida. Girls on the Run® was established in 1996 in Charlotte, N.C. The Girls on the Run® curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences. The earliest version of the 24­ lesson curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of 13 brave girls. Twenty-six girls came the next season, then 75. In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501(c)3 organization was born.

With the help of over 55,000 volunteers, the Girls on the Run program is now serving over 168,000 girls in more than 225 cities across North America each year. In 2014, Girls on the Run hosted 333 end-of-season 5k events across the U.S. and Canada. Girls on the Run has been featured in many media outlets including People, Runner’s World, Redbook, Women’s Day, O Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Women's Running, Self Magazine, Glamour, Shape, Marie Claire, Parenting, Running Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, NPR and ESPN.

Miami Bridge, a DJJ prevention provider, participated in the K. Faith Cure Cancer Walk on November 7 in Miami Gardens. A total of 32 youth and 14 staff participated in the 5K walk at Rolling Oaks Park.  Miami Bridge raised and donated $1,000 to St. Jude's Research Hospital in memory of Kandis W. and all the children and adults who departed this world too soon. They also did it for those who are bravely fighting this debilitating disease.

Miami Bridge is a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, food and, 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.

Recently, The PACE Center for Girls of Volusia-Flagler in Ormond Beach created holiday greeting cards for soldiers stationed overseas.  The cards were given to the USO for distribution to any soldier, sailor, marine or airman that needed to know their service away from home was appreciated.

“A few of our girls have close relatives who are serving in the military and who will be away from home over the holidays,” shared Executive Director, Lori Richards. “They wanted anyone in that situation to know that we were thinking about them. It was a great opportunity to talk about what supporting the troops is all about.”

In the above photo, PACE girls, Sara N. (left) and Ari T. create holiday greeting cards for deployed military personnel.

Probation Update

Circuit 13 probation staff held a Christmas toy drive at their probation offices to help those less fortunate get through the holiday season.

After the donation drive was over, JPO Ardena Bosley delivered the toys to the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent in Tampa for distribution.  


Circuit 17 probation staff members including CPO Cassandra Evans, JPOSs Stacey Dunkel, Michelle Green, Maryann Sanders and Travisa Skinner, SJPO Andrice Holley, JPOs Margaret Hall, Delius Theodore, Jimmy Wong and Tonya Johnson and JDAI Coordinator Andrea Webster adopted an angel from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program to brighten the Christmas holidays for a child in need. This program provides new clothing or toys for the children of needy families through the support of local donors.

The Angel Tree program is one of The Salvation Army's highest profile Christmas efforts.  Angel Tree was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Virginia shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmas time.  Since then, the tradition has expanded and now is the cornerstone of The Salvation Army's Christmas efforts.

Commitment Managers Kristina Picone and Ashley Sears from the Marion County JAC recently attended the annual Eckerd Challenge Christmas luncheon. The luncheon gave families the chance to have a Christmas lunch with their sons in the program, and featured prayers, solos and a saxophone selection by one of the kids from the Eckerd Challenge Program. In addition, Eckerd Challenge adopted a less fortunate family over the holidays and the youth banded together in various fundraising activities to purchase gifts for the family who had been experiencing financial hardship. The youth who participated expressed gratitude in paying it forward while the family was joyful and thankful that Eckerd Challenge had blessed them. 

Circuit 19 ACPO Dorothy Malik partnered with the local Community Outreach Youth Program, the Village Coalition of Youth Activity, the City of Fort Pierce and the Children Services Counsel to participate in the “5th Annual Christmas on Avenue D” Festival and Carnival Toy Giveaway. Santa Claus made a special appearance and gave away over 200 toys to the families that attended the festival in the Lincoln Park Community in Fort Pierce. Lincoln Park is an impoverished, high crime area with limited access to resources. In addition to the gifts, attendees received free medical screenings while enjoying live entertainment, face painting, a bounce house, food and a hay ride.

In the photo at right, event announcer Keenya Mitchell and ACPO Dorothy Malik

Circuit 12 probation staff Manatee County donated their time and effort to the Manatee County Animal Services Organization over the Christmas holidays. Staff members collected new and used pet toys, food, and treats as well as towels and blankets to be used for the animals in local shelters around the county. Manatee County Animal Services is a non-profit rescue organization that serves the entire county. 

On December 29, CPO Judy Roysden, and probation staff members Shelley Turner, Temika Shoemake, Rickayle Zanders, Teyaqua Gunn, Tonya Emsweller and Khalilah Daniels attended the winter recess event for the Girls Initiative in Circuit 13. The event was entitled Get Inspired… Be Creative and Take initiative! and our staff members accompanied probationary girls to Metropolitan Ministries church and homeless shelter in Tampa where they worked together in the kitchen to prepare meals for those families in need. The girls then returned to the juvenile probation office for lunch with probation staff and participated in a Creative Circle where the discussion topic was “Positive Expression through Creativity”.  The young ladies participated in ice breakers and learned about various ways to positively express themselves through the arts.  Each participant created a vision board, discussed their vision as displayed on their vision boards and how they each plan on attaining these goals.

Residential Update

The headquarters Office of Residential Services (ORS-HQ) undertook an unusual team-building exercise the day before the holiday break:  bocce ball.  While bocce ball was first played in either ancient Egypt or Rome (the debate is ongoing) and it is very popular in European cultures, it is not considered a mainstream sport in the United States.  Typically, the bocce court is an outdoor area of natural soil or asphalt of 90 feet in length and 8 to 13 feet wide.  This team-building game, however, was played along an indoor hallway that is a little more than 3-feet wide and about 30-feet long.

Although initiated by ORS Programming & Policy Coordinator Meg Bates as a way to unite staff members—three of whom are new to their jobs—and to engender healthy competition, the exercise was open to anyone who showed an interest.  The game of bocce ball includes four balls of two different colors, allowing up to eight players in two teams of four.  Until this activity, only Meg had played the game.

Meg Bates, Candy Seifert (Policy Development & Planning Unit), David Douglass (Residential Contract Section), and Lytha Belrose (Policy Development & Planning Unit) comprised the “Red Team” while Garrett Tucker (Policy Development & Planning Unit), Vanessa Wicker (Policy Development & Planning Unit), Janelle King (Policy Development & Planning Unit), and Andrea Burks (Residential Administrative Services & Budgeting) comprised the “Green Team.” 

As the game progressed, other staff members—some from other areas in HQ—showed an interest in the game and agreed to be “pinch hitters” for members of the red or green team:  ORS Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Juan Youman (North Region, Monitoring & Quality Improvement), Allison Reagan (Research & Data Integrity), Katherine Gomez (Research & Data Integrity), and Juliet Westmoreland (Prevention & Victim Services).  Those who stopped by to learn more about bocce ball as a team-building exercise—but could not be cajoled into pinch hitting—included William Alexander (Support Services), Victoria Little (Research & Data Integrity), and Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht

Typically, the game is played until a team gets 12 points but the winning team must win by two points.  Because the whole experience was so new, Team Captains Tucker and Bates forgot to refer to the rules until after that benchmark.  However, the Red Team won 17 to 14! 

Shown above are staff members and advisory board members of Duval Academy, a non-secure residential commitment program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., celebrating the holidays at the final advisory board meeting of 2015.  While gathered, the group mapped out plans for the next year’s events for Duval Academy students.  We are grateful for the hard work of the advisory board members and for their dedication to the youth in the program.  

Duval Academy residents where given the opportunity to give back this holiday season by volunteering with The Boselli Foundation, during a shopping trip for underprivileged kids at the Target Super Store.  The Duval Academy students participated by helping the young children shop for Christmas gifts for themselves and family members. 

The Duval Academy Advisory Board members and several of the youth joined several other volunteers throughout the community to ensure that each child had an enjoyable shopping experience.  Many thanks go to former NFL offensive tackle Jacksonville Jaguar #71 Tony Boselli, founder of The Boselli Foundation, for giving the young men of Duval Academy this opportunity to learn firsthand about helping others.  The youth who participated said that it felt great to help those children.  

As Duval Academy counted down to Christmas, the residents gathered to remember the reason for the season.  Jacksonville’s Evangel Temple Church visited with the young men to celebrate the Christmas season.  The volunteers shared inspirational words and gave gifts to each boy.  In addition, Evangel Temple donated many games for the residents to enjoy during leisure time.  

During this time of year, “Tis the Season to be Giving” is the motto at Cypress Creek.  The Cypress Creek facility includes two residential commitment programs for males, ages 13 to 21, which are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLCCypress Creek Treatment Center (high-risk) and Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (maximum-risk). 

Over the holidays, Cypress Creek shared its hospitality and good sportsmanship once again with Orange Youth Academy and Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Facility during another inter-facility football tournament.  Residents of all ages came together and cheered for each other.  

Some of the students selflessly honored that motto by foregoing portions of their behavioral incentive canteen rewards to contribute to the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for TotsSM drive (pictured below left).  Each dollar saved in canteen rewards was used to provide a toy for a needy child.  In addition, the facility held a “staff jeans week” event to raise additional money for the Toys for Tots Foundation.

In these cold months, the hearts of the youth at Cypress Creek youth are warm.  Several residents took part in a charity project to make hats, scarves, and throws for the residents of Marion Oaks Assisted Living in Marion County (pictured below right).  In addition to learning the arts of knitting, crocheting and latch-hooking, these hand-woven gifts were an opportunity for the youth to give back to the community.  Cypress Creek strives to help the youth become more well-rounded individuals by using these types of activities to broaden their horizons.

Every year, the students enrolled in the Home Builders Institute (HBI) Pre-apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) program at Walton Youth Development Center have the opportunity to learn valuable vocational skills and give back to the community.  HBI is the vocational training provider for several residential commitment programs.  HBI teaches those youth who are eligible and interested skills in building trades, facility maintenance, job safety skills, job preparedness skills, and CPR & First Aid. 

At the beginning of 2015, the HBI-PACT students at Walton began making toys and dollhouses for donation to The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs.  The Advocacy Center is a recipient of the Emerald Coast’s US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for TotsSM drive.  This year, the PACT students built a total of five dollhouses, which were delivered December 18.

The young men who took part in this year’s project not only learned many valuable vocational skills, they also were part of a very meaningful project that brought a lot of joy to children who would otherwise not have much for Christmas.  The students were proud of their work and excited to be able to make such a positive difference for young children in the community.

The Champions at Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure residential commitment program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, embraced the holiday season by painting this special wall mural that was designed by two of the residents.

On Dec. 22, the residents of JoAnn Bridges Academy (JBA), a non-secure program for females, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., participated in a special “Christmas Around the World” performance and competitive “wing decorations” (Pearls vs. Diamonds).  The Christmas play was coordinated by the employees of the District School Board of Madison County who teach at both JBA and Twin Oaks Academy II (TOVA), which is a non-secure program for males, ages 10 to 13, and is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. 

The girls incorporated “Christmas Around the World” through poster presentations.  The girls worked in groups to gather information, design their posters, and script their speeches.  The posters were judged based on originality, information, decorations, and presentation.  The winners received a special prize and all other participants received an award for their efforts.

All of the school board employees who work for both JBA and TOVA attended the play along with the pastor and wife of Tri-County Ministries, who are volunteers.  Everyone found the girls’ performances and dances fascinating. 

Tri- Counties Ministries presented the girls with gifts that included an outfit for the day each one graduates from JBA, fruit, and small hygiene items.  The staff of JBA and DJJ Operations Review Specialist Dwight Poole gave the girls goodie bags of other hygiene products, colorful footies, snacks, candy, and individual Christmas photos. 

The program was delightful and a true learning experience for all.

The students and staff members of the Orange Youth Academy (OYA), a non-secure commitment program for males, ages 14 to 18, and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 18, which are both operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted the Omega Psi Phi Organization and the Delta Organization with a “Breakfast with Santa” for the residents in the Ivey Lane Subdivision at Ivey Lane Elementary School located in Orlando. 

OYA/OIYA students helped set up for the event and clean up afterward.  The youth also enjoyed breakfast with Santa, as well as assisted Santa by delivering gifts to the raffle winners. 

This is the second year that OYA/OIYA students participated in the annual event.  During this year’s event, OYA/OIYA Transitional Service Manager Vince Powell (shown right) received a Certificate of Appreciation on for his continuous dedication to the community.

Each month, the educational staff of OYA and OIYA select an “All Star Class of the Month.”  For their efforts in scholarship and for encouraging one another to succeed in class, these students (shown below) were given a pizza party hosted by the teachers from Orange County Public Schools.  The young men are polite, respectful, and mature.