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Secretary's Message

January 19, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week was a full and productive time for our agency and providers as we continued our work in serving Florida’s at-risk youth and families.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

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

Florida Police Chiefs Association Winter Board Meeting

Last weekend, I attended the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA)’s Board meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, which coincided with FPCA’s Winter Conference and Training Session. During the meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with the association’s board members and share the most recent data regarding juvenile delinquency trends in Florida as well as reiterate DJJ’s commitment to continued collaboration with our law enforcement partners around the state.

The Florida Police Chiefs Association is the third largest state police chiefs association in the United States. It is composed of more than 900 of the state's top law enforcement executives. FPCA serves municipal police departments, airport police, college and university police, private business and security firms, as well as federal, state and county law enforcement agencies. 

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Meeting

Last week, I participated in the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet (FCYC) meeting at the Capitol. The meeting featured an overview of each agency’s legislative budget requests, a discussion of the next steps for the Florida Youth Commission, and an update on the Children’s Medical Services program.

Created in 2007, the FCYC’s goal is to ensure all children in Florida grow up safe, healthy, educated and prepared to meet their full potential. The members of the Children and Youth Cabinet consist of a chairman, the secretaries of the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Agency for Health Care Administration, as well as the directors of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Office of Early Learning. Other members include the State Surgeon General, the Commissioner of Education, the director of the Guardian ad Litem Office, and the director of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection.

Families and Children in the Court Steering Committee

Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann attended the Families and Children in the Court Steering Committee Meeting last week in Kissimmee. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Niermann discussed DJJ’s ongoing collaboration with the juvenile court system and how to better serve youth involved with the juvenile justice system. In addition, the meeting featured a presentation on One Family/One Judge Implementation, a legislative update, and a discussion on possible statute changes to enhance the operation of family courts in Florida.


Legislative Update

Last Tuesday, the Florida Legislature convened the 2016 Legislative Session, the 118th Regular Session Since Statehood in 1845.  That same week, DJJ Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield and I met with Senator Evers, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, in preparation for an agency presentation on system reform to his committee in the coming weeks. We also met with Senator Smith to discuss the work we do here at DJJ. 

One of DJJ’s legislative priority bills, proposed committee bill HWSS2 Relating to Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) was heard favorably by the House Highway & Waterway Safety Subcommittee and is now filed as HB 7063. Among other provisions, HB 7063 will allow HSMV to provide no cost identification cards to youth transitioning out of the DJJ system. Identification cards help youth to prepare for college, apply for financial assistance, seek employment, and most other things that come with being an adult. Identification cards are a key document for youth transitioning to normal, adult life. The Senate companion, SB 1394, is sponsored by Senator Brandes.

Walton Youth Development Center Site Visit

On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary Niermann made a site visit to the Walton Youth Development Center (WYDC) in De Funiak Springs. The purpose of this visit was to meet with leadership, support staff, and youth at the program. The Walton Youth Development Center (WYDC) is a secure residential treatment program for males, ages 13 to 18, with 15 beds that are designated for substance abuse overlay services and 24 beds that are designated for mental health overlay services.

The average length of stay is 9 to 12 months, depending upon each youth's individual progress and treatment goals. Treatment consists of academic, vocational, clinical anger management, substance abuse, and mental health services.

Circuit 2 CAB Meeting

Last Thursday, myself along with Deputy Secretary Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Probation Paul Hatcher, and Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims attended the Circuit 2 Advisory Board’s quarterly meeting in Tallahassee. Director of Research and Data Integrity, Mark Greenwald gave a presentation on statewide delinquency trends and delinquency trends specific to Circuit 2.

The Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Boards serve as advisors to the Department of Juvenile Justice according to their statutory responsibilities. Members of the boards work closely with DJJ staff to plan for services that meet the identified needs of juveniles and families within the local community. 

Bethune-Cookman Guest Lecturer

This past Friday, I had the distinct opportunity to travel to Daytona Beach to serve as a guest lecturer to graduate students from Bethune-Cookman University’s Criminal Justice Administration program. During the lecture I discussed my own background, a perspective of the juvenile justice system both statewide and nationally, juvenile justice careers, and our current reform efforts that continue to make Florida a national model for juvenile justice. 

Bethune-Cookman University is a member of the Florida Historically Black Colleges and Universities (FL HBCUs) Talent Pipeline Project. The Talent Pipeline project is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is designed to introduce criminal justice students to a juvenile justice reform orientation.  FL HBCUs represent four member institutions, 1,800+ criminal justice students (undergraduate/graduate), and 25+ faculty members. Each institution developed a specific juvenile justice reform course for communal use by the consortium. Students earning a “C” grade or higher in the 4 required courses will receive a juvenile justice reform certificate of completion. The project provides future juvenile justice professionals with the knowledge necessary to advance juvenile justice reform efforts. 

A special thank you to Dr. Randy Nelson for allowing me the opportunity to speak with his students. 

In the above photo (left to right), Professor Mike Pass, FL HBCUs Talent Pipeline Project Coordinator; Khaliaah Johnson, criminal justice student; Melvin Thompson, JJ Reform student; Secretary Daly; Dean Janice Allen-Kelsey, College of Liberal Arts; and (back row) Dr. Randy Nelson, Criminal Justice Graduate Program Coordinator

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

This past Thursday, Human Trafficking Director, Bethany Gilot had the opportunity to lead a community presentation on human trafficking on behalf of DJJ and the Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking.  Attendees, including DJJ’s Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, learned general information about human trafficking and the impact it has had on the state of Florida as well as how they can recognize the signs. This presentation came right in the middle of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, as recognized by both the nation and the State of Florida.  Bethany was honored to have the opportunity to lead this training and inform the community about all of the wonderful steps DJJ is taking to identify and serve those victimized by this horrendous crime.

Please look out for awareness events that are happening in communities throughout the state in the month of January.

Education Update

DJJ youth from the AMIkids Miami Dade North and South facilities participated in their very first Miami Spartan race on December 5. The students and staff from both programs trained for two months prior to the race with Juan Guzman and Jorge Alvarez from Orange Fitness. Juan also serves as an executive board member with AMIkids Miami. Both men worked with the students several days a week with intense workouts and preparations for the challenges that lay ahead. The morning of the race was cold and damp but the teams hit the ground running working through the challenging but fun obstacles. The race taught each of the kids’ first-hand the values of safety, diversity, leadership, enthusiasm, loyalty, family, dedication, creativity and goal orientation. On average it took the kids from AMI two hours to finish the race. 

Prevention Update 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene joined members from the Hillsborough County Board of Commission to proclaim January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The proclamation was spearheaded by Commissioner Sandra Murman and presented to the FREE Network of Western Florida. The FREE Network was honored to receive this proclamation on behalf of all the agencies working to eradicate trafficking in Hillsborough County and most importantly, in honor of survivors of human trafficking.

FREE – The Slavery Survivor Network, also known as The FREE Network, is a survivor-led 501(c)3 non-profit focused on confronting and combating all forms of slavery, while empowering victims to survive and thrive in their communities. Under current laws, human trafficking includes forced labor, domestic servitude, commercial sex operations, child sex trafficking, and trafficking of human organs.

Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts spoke on the Florida Civil Citation Initiative at the Circuit 8 and Circuit 9 Advisory Board meetings on January 12 and 13 in Bronson and Kissimmee, respectively. Theda provided updates on the benefits of civil citation and pending legislation. She also discussed the civil citation dashboard, recidivism benefits of youth, especially minority youth, who receive civil citation penalties.

According to statistics that Theda presented:

  • 60% of first time offenders don’t reoffend in the following 18 months.
  • Over 50% of youth deemed serious, violent and chronic were 12 or younger at the age of first referral.
  • Youth of color are given more restrictive dispositions than white youth.
  • School offenses are a gateway into the juvenile justice system.
  • Low-risk youth have better outcomes when served in the community.

In other business, the two Boards also discussed Invest in Children funding and legislative updates.

Residential Update

On Saturday, Jan. 9, Residential Services Northeast Regional Deputy Director Billy Starke, Jr., participated in “Career Day” at Woodlawn Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  The youth group, Shaping Christian Leaders of Tomorrow (SCLT), strives to provide middle school and high school students with meaningful educational experiences that encourage learning and motivate the youth to complete their educations. 

Mr. Starke, along with several professionals from various fields, were asked to share their educational backgrounds and their professional experiences.  The session was interactive and the youth were appreciative, warm, and eager to learn about the various professions.

Youth K.M. at Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., is a perfect example of the workforce goals that EBB has for the youth in the program.  Through community partnerships—such as the High School/High Tech (HS/HT) program—EBB provides students with valuable employability skills for today’s workforce. 

When youth K.M. expressed a desire to pursue a career in automotive repair, he had few skills and experience.  EBB referred him to the Children’s Home Society of Florida Oil Change Program where he received course training at the George Stone Technical Center

He was then placed with a local business partner, American Lube Fast, for hands-on experience.  Upon successful completion of the Oil Change Certification program, youth K.M. applied to and was hired by a local Pep Boys

In order for youth K.M. to go to work, the adjudicating judge approved his work activities and schedule, and he takes random drug tests. 

Youth K.M. is currently working on his GED®, attending school during normal hours, and participating in his treatment programming.  He works weekdays after 4 p.m., and on the weekend.  EBB transports him to and from work and the judge has approved his being able to work without EBB staff supervision. 

Youth K.M. works on commission:  for each oil change, he earns $17; for each tire change, he earns $12.  Each one of those tasks takes him about an hour to complete.  He works 30+ hours a week.  The money he earns goes toward court costs, fines, and restitution. 

We are extremely proud of youth K.M. and appreciate the community partners who provide this student with an opportunity at a prosperous future.

Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center (OJOCC), a maximum-risk commitment program for males, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, created a parent committee last year.  The committee meets by conference call monthly to brainstorm ideas and new ways to improve the OJOCC behavior motivation system for the residents.

Over the holidays, the parents were invited to join the OJOCC staff in celebrating each holiday with the youth at the program.  The committee enthusiastically embraced the opportunities.  For example, 11 parents arrived early on Christmas morning to serve a special breakfast to the residents.  Afterward, they each enjoyed spending Christmas morning with their sons. 

The Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., hosted Army Col. Morris "Reese" Turner as the guest speaker for the Dec. 16 resident graduation.  He gave an inspiring talk with the theme “The Sky Is the Limit.”  He motivated the boys to think about what they want to do with their lives, being conscious about the person each one wishes to become.  The program celebrated two graduates from the program that day.

Detention Update

Staff members from the Pasco RJDC adopted three families over the Christmas holidays. Donations of toys and gifts were made by staff members, facility volunteers and juvenile court judges from Circuit 6. In total, the families received a generous amount of gifts which included clothes, shoes, toys and $580 in gift cards. 

Several community volunteers from the Pasco RJDC made a nice donation of Christmas presents in order for our youth to have something to open on Christmas morning. Each youth in secure detention received a gift as well as a $20 gift card. All of the youth were appreciative and made thank you cards for the volunteers who gave so graciously. 

Probation Update

Congratulations to the newest DJJ probation officers who graduated Friday, November 13, 2015, in a ceremony in Margate, Florida.  These officers will perform the important task of supervising youth in the community. Thanks to Greg Starling, Chief Probation Officer for Circuit 15, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to learning consultant manager Andrea Minnis and adjunct instructors Mary-Ann Sanders, Laurie Workman, Maria Gilhooley and Max Fils-Aime for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed 4 weeks of training to become a certified officer. The graduates will work at the Regional Juvenile Probation Offices listed next to their names.

Broward Community College Graduates

Rafael Calvo C17, Ruth Castillo C11, Breanna Cook C17, Elizabeth Fleurmond C15, Sharon Glass C15

Clifton Goodly C17, Nancy Harbour C17, Dakri Lukowski C17, Kevin McBride C17, Wallace O’Neal C11

Johande Serrano C17, Julie St Louis C15, Jada Thomas C15, Sarah Thompson C17

Kenneth Tynes C17, Tracy Gallion-Williams C15

David Ulloa C11

The Circuit 11 Success Thru Empowerment Program (STEP) held their annual holiday party, which benefited the children participating in the RJT Foundation as well as probationary youth and their families. The RJF Foundation supports the families of murdered children. In addition to this event, the STEP team is proud to announce that it will soon commence the ninth phase of the STEP group sessions which will take place at the Mount Zion AME Church with Pastor Rogery Adams. This will be the second STEP group to partner with Mount Zion and Circuit 11 is very proud of the relationship they have formed with the local faith-based community.

Probation staff in Circuit 18 participated in a food basket drive over the holidays to benefit the local Faith Chapel Church in Brevard County. This marks the 15th year that Circuit 18 Probation has offered this opportunity for their probationary youth to give back to the local community. Twenty youth from across the county participated and each earned community service hours for their efforts. These collected food items (shown left) will help Faith Chapel stock their food bank which also supplements the Daily Bread Food Kitchen. DJJ collected 30 baskets filled with donated food, personal hygiene products and home supplies.