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Secretary's Message

January 25, 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

CJCA Winter Meeting 

Over the weekend, I attended the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) Winter Business Meeting in New Orleans.  CJCA’s Winter Business Meeting is one of three national meetings convened annually as part of CJCA’s mission to promote and facilitate leadership development and the exchange of knowledge and philosophies at the top administrative levels of juvenile justice and juvenile corrections.  The Winter Business Meeting convenes leaders from each state and several large counties to share information, identify issues and strategies to address them and form a national voice for youth corrections.  This meeting also provides a forum for CJCA’s committees to meet, plan and present their work to the entire organization. Among the topics discussed this past weekend were reducing recidivism rates among youth in the juvenile justice system, creating positive youth outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system,  and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  

CJCA is a national non-profit organization, formed in 1994 to improve local juvenile correctional services, programs and practices so the youths within the systems succeed when they return to the community and to provide national leadership and leadership development for the individuals responsible for the systems. CJCA represents the youth correctional CEOs in 50 states, Puerto Rico and major metropolitan counties.

Legislative Update

Last Tuesday, one of the Department’s priority bills, HB 7063 Relating to Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV), was heard favorably by the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Among other provisions, this bill includes language that would provide no cost identification cards to youth transitioning out of the DJJ system. Identification cards help youth to seek employment, prepare for college, apply for financial assistance, open a bank account and most other things that come with being an adult. The bill has one more committee of reference before moving to the House floor. The Senate companion, SB 1394, is sponsored by Senator Brandes.

Bethune-Cookman University Criminal Justice Administration Program

 I appreciate DJJ staff for coming out to observe my presentation to the criminal justice administration program at Bethune-Cookman University as part of the Florida Historically Black Colleges and Universities Talent Pipeline Project supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Staff in attendance pictured left are Jillian Lewandowski, Cindy Jones, Dan Merrithew, Jeanna Hester, Cathy Egley and Stephanie McKinzie.

Detention Update

I would like to congratulate Corporal Eric Harper who was recently named the Duval RJDC Employee of the Month for December. Harper is a very motivated senior officer with eight years of experience with DJJ. Over the last several months he has stepped up to the plate acting as transportation supervisor while the current supervisor was out with an extended absence. He covered transportation for all outside appointments for our youth and made sure they arrived to their destination on time. Harper takes time to show the proper procedures to the newly hired staff and never hesitates to lend a helping hand.

Thank you, Corporal Harper, for the care and attention you give the youth at Duval Regional Detention Center and the support you lend to your co-workers!

In addition, the St. Lucie RJDC announced that JJDO Pamela Reddick was awarded Employee of the Month honors for November 2015.

Thank you JJDO Reddick for putting the youth first and lending a helping hand to your co-workers!

The Palm Beach RJDC held their 11th Annual Holiday party on November 15. This year, the facility hosted staff members, volunteers, juvenile court judges, probation officers and Mayor Shelley Vana to what may very well be their best holiday party to date. During the party, the youth competed in a dance contest, played detention feud against the administrative staff and sang songs while giving their testimony to those guests in attendance. The Palm Beach RJDC would like to thank the following contributors who made this holiday party a success: Father Leo of Catholic Charities, Circuit 15 JPO Building B Chief JPO Greg Starling, Jodi Lynn, Chef Annie, Olive Garden of Wellington, Home Depot, Publix of Cross Town, Reggie Dee of 102.3 radio station, C.I.D.R.A (religious group) and John Sherman of Calvary Chapel.

I am pleased to share the following success story that was reported to us by Superintendent Heather Hart from the Bay RJDC. It reads:

Today during interviews I was able to speak with a young lady who had been through our system and was actually in our facility through-out 2008-2009.  She had been on probation and eventually was committed and completed a residential placement. 

While in my office, through tears, she explained her history-she had a rough upbringing, her mother was never there for her, she never knew her father, and that this facility was her “safe haven.”  She said when she was here she knew she would be taken care of and knew she would be o.k.....this is where she could re-group -she told me that several of you were the people that changed her life!  Through your guidance, your compassion and your words of encouragement she learned there could be something better for her. I don’t know if she could ever work for us, based on her prior charges, but she is so motivated to be for others what many of you were for her. 

This young lady will be 22 years old next month-she is working with a local income tax company, she has a solid work history and a one year old son that you can tell is her heart.  She has a clarity and a passion about her that I know comes largely from what she learned here.

Probation Update 

DJJ Circuit 19 probation staff participated in a job fair last week, which was hosted by CareerSource of the Research Coast and by the City of Fort Pierce. Probation officers manned an information booth during the event and spoke with over 50 people who were interested in finding a job in the local community. In addition, our officers spoke about volunteer opportunities within the agency and about jobs available in our detention facilities and probation offices. 

Community partner Dianne Williams from the Saint Lucie School board pictured with JPO Sam Lyons, JPO Geraldine Cox and JPO Brittney Coke.

Each year at its Annual Meeting, Bay Area Youth Services (BAYS) Florida recognizes employees who have gone above and beyond.  These employees demonstrate dedication and commitment to the communities that they serve, and exemplify exceptionalism in our field. In December 2015, BAYS Florida awarded the teams and individuals named below as the BAYS Florida’s Outstanding Employees of 2015.

“It is an honor to work with these individuals, learn from them, and to be inspired by their commitment to youth and families.” said Dr. Pamela M. Alvarez, President and CEO of BAYS Florida. 

The race for employee recognition is well underway for 2016 at BAYS and we are sure the competition will be tough again this year!

Circuit of the Year - Circuit 20

Jeannine Brown, Carol Sinks-Farmer, Rebecca Jaggernauth, James Justice,

Sharmanik Blake, Cheryl Thornton

2nd Place Circuit of the Year - Circuit 12

Allisa O’Leary, Hannah Hough, Sandra Trieb, Krystal Della Rocco

3rd Place Circuit of the Year - Circuit 7

Owanna Stout, Dorie Hanson, Heather Lawton, Jessica Hathorn, Jarrod Hodge-Miller

Most Improved Circuit of the Year - Circuit 4

Sebrina Walker, ChifVonn Mitchell, Dorie Hanson, Gary Bennett, Shardae Porter, Kristina Rowe

Employee of the Year:

Craytonya Sanders*

Supervisor of the Year:

Owanna Stout**

*Employee of the year – Former DJJ JPO Craytonya Sanders was nominated multiple times for this award by her co-workers, and for good reason.  She has proven to be a leader and role model to her peers.  Craytonya is a tireless advocate for youth and families.  She provides guidance and support to her team with positive feedback and always leads by example.  Craytonya’s peers describe her as being hard working, calm, respected, positive, motivated, dependable, organized, knowledgeable, supportive, helpful, professional, and wonderful.  We couldn’t agree more!  Congratulations, Craytonya!  Your dedication to serving youth and families and to being a tremendous BAYS team player is clear and very much appreciated.

**Supervisor of the Year, a former DJJ JPO Owanna Stout has an operational motto which recognizes that “we will always face problems, there will always be obstacles in our path;” but, Owanna states that “rather than waste time complaining about a problem, we should use our time to find a solution.”  Owanna utilizes this concept to motivate her team to overcome obstacles that they encounter, inspiring creative thinking to any challenge.

Last month, ACPO Omar Bohler from Circuit 18 was recognized by the Webelos Cub Scout Pack 922 in Ocoee. Back in October, Omar worked with the Scouts to teach them basic first aid training and CPR techniques. Because of his efforts, these Cub Scouts earned the Boy Scouts of America Emergency Preparedness Award, a highly respected award within the scouting community. This award will assist the Webelos Cub Scout Pack 922 as they prepare to transition to a Boy Scout Troop in February.

Left to right: C9 ACPO Alderman Assistant Webelos II Den Leader Presenting C18 ACPO Bohler with Plaque of Appreciation

On January 12, Probation and Prevention staff from Circuit 6 partnered with the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department and the St. Petersburg Police Department to hold their seventh Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) conversation at the Frank Pierce Recreation Center.  This successful event was a question and answer forum looking for ways to improve communication between youth and law enforcement.  There was incredible dialogue with the panel as well as the youth in the audience.  This event included community agencies who set up tables with information of the services they provide which gave valuable information to the community members in attendance. I would like to thank the following employees for their assistance and participation in making this conversation so successful: Prevention Specialist Audrey "Pat" McGhee, JPO Cheryl Lucas, JPO Thomasina Johnson, Sr. JPO Jared White, JPO Ronald Smith, JPO Dekesha Davis, Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould, Secretary Specialist Angela Clay, Records Technician Liz Gattarello, JPOS Linda Leslie, Sr. JPO Lesa Regan, Sr. JPO Jeffery Williams and CPO Adrienne Conwell

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary of Prevention Services Alice Sims spoke to the Community Alliance of Citrus County during their third annual appreciation breakfast on January 5 in Inverness. Sims spoke with the attendees about DJJ and ongoing prevention initiatives.  She explained how they could get involved with the DJJ Faith Network and also invited members of the Community Alliance to become active with their local circuit advisory boards. She also encouraged and challenged the members to continue their ongoing efforts to serve children and families in the Citrus County communities.

Following the breakfast, Asst. Secretary Sims met with the “Street Team” comprised of multiple agencies and organizations that specialize in mentoring youth and helping them to avoid risky behaviors.  In addition, she visited Filter Youth Development, an intensive mentoring program for children ages 10-15.

The Community Alliance of Citrus County has approximately 50 agencies that are involved and more 100 people attended the breakfast. Their membership includes a variety of health and human service agencies, such as DJJ, Department of Children and Families, Department of Health, county departments, and a host of area non-profits like the YMCA, Boys/Girls Clubs, and others.    

Pictured above (from left to right): Renea Teaster, facilitator of the Community Alliance, AS Sims, and Cara Meeks, Membership Chair for the Community Alliance, and a Community Relations Specialist with Wellcare/Staywell.

Recently, parents of a youth who attends the North Carolina Outward Bound School Program (NCOBS), a DJJ prevention provider, wrote a thank you letter to the school for the exceptional service provided to their child.

The parents said, “We were not expecting a 180-degree change, because we know that adolescence is a day-to-day process. We saw that he clearly recognized areas of his personality which must be improved and there in NCOB gave clear and practical tools to do so. We want to express our satisfaction as parents with this team.” To read the full letter, click here.

NCOBS has been offering challenging outdoor programs for nearly 50 years. Their unique approach of ‘learning by doing’ taught by skilled educators has long made them the leader in outdoor education. NCOBS helps teens and their families transition their lives in more meaningful and positive directions. NCOBS emphasizes character development, academic achievement and social responsibility to reduce the risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse and future delinquency. Programs consist of 20-day wilderness expeditions and a 20 to 24-day follow up component that takes place in the students’ home and school environments. Parent involvement is required.

Since 1983, Families in Need of Services - Community programs have provided prevention services to youth and families. This program targets at-risk youth and status offenders ages 13-17 who live in communities with high rates of juvenile crime. The program serves youth who are exhibiting risk factors such as problems specific to family, school and substance abuse.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain attended the Circuit 1 Advisory Board Meeting on January 7 in Crestview. The Board discussed their Comprehensive Plan, board responsibilities related to the current Invest in Children RFP, and a host of other issues involving the communities represented at the meeting.

Craig provided an update on the Faith Network and Verla provided an update on community engagement. Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis was also in attendance in addition to representatives from law enforcement, local partners, and agencies.

In the above photo, Circuit 1 CAB Chair Edna Williams (seated at center) presides over a recent CAB meeting.

Residential Update

More than 50 women state legislators from across the country gathered in Tampa, Jan. 8-10, for the Women In Government (WIG) State Directors’ Conference where they discussed key policy issues, including criminal justice.  Office of Residential Service’s Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham attended the conference and presented on behalf of Secretary Daly the workshop “Hot Topics in Criminal Justice Reform,” providing an overview of juvenile justice system reform and various initiatives.  The presentation included the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence, the increase in prevention services for youth, a human trafficking screening tool, trauma informed care, and the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP). 

For more than 27 years, Women In Government, a bipartisan organization, has been dedicated to providing state-of-the art educational resources and networking opportunities for female state legislators in order to empower them to make informed policy decisions.  WIG also encourages young women to become tomorrow’s leaders in government through its Future Women In Government Program.

Last week, Office of Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker Reeves held two R-PACT “Train The Trainer” workshops.  The first workshop was held Jan. 12-14, at the Circuit 4 Probation Office in Jacksonville with the assistance of SMA-II Darrell Bacon.  The second workshop was held from Jan. 13-15, at the Wildwood Service Center in St. Petersburg with the assistance of Master Trainers Dru Greene and Gale Wire.  Both workshops focused on the best practices used in completing and applying the R-PACT concepts to performance planning. 

The Residential Positive Achievement Change Tool (R-PACT) is a validated risk/needs assessment which is fully integrated with the JJIS system.  The R-PACT is used to track key areas of development for the youth in residential care.  The tool collects data on such things as prior criminal history, academic performance, family relationships, involvement with antisocial peers, and use of appropriate social skills for controlling emotions and handling difficult situations.

The class participants discussed identifying a youth’s risk-to-re-offend level (along with criminogenic needs and protective factors) to guide case planning and engage the youth in the change process.

Shown left is the group who attended the Jan. 12- 14 training (L-R): Amanda Dehaan (Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program), Chekinaa Turner (Hastings), Leslie Hagans (Hastings), Rina Nellon (Jacksonville Youth Academy), Loretha Blue (Jacksonville Youth Academy), Ieshsia Dickey (Orange Youth Academy), Montia Morris (Union Juvenile Residential Facility), Ann McPherson (Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility), DJJ Northeast Residential Services Region SMA-II Darrell Bacon and DJJ Northwest Region Technical Assistance Specialist Jessica Gibson.

Shown left is the group who attended the Jan. 13-15 training (L-R): Sharon Mandaville (Brevard Group Treatment Home), Gale Wire (Master Trainer), Marla Vose (Marion Youth Academy), Brittany O’Brien (Frances Walker Halfway House and Brevard Group Treatment Home), Brianne Fulton (Brevard Group Treatment Home), W. Dianne Wood (Director of Mental Health Services-AMIKids Inc.), Kenneth “Dan” Brown (Bartow Youth Academy).

Back Row: Dru Greene (Master Trainer) and Alexander Lewis (Director of Special Projects and System Support-G4S Youth Services, LLC). 

Earlier this month, Orange Youth Academy/Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA), both non-secure programs for males, ages 14 to 18, which are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, had the pleasure to host and provide a tour to Senior Lecturers Robert Tumney and Jonathan Andrews from the School of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University located in the United Kingdom.  Central Region Residential Services Management Review Specialist Monica Webb and Office of Health Services’ Central Region Registered Nursing Consultant for Residential Programs Christine Gurk represented DJJ on this tour.

Both Monica Webb and Christine Gurk gave an overview of the various branches within DJJ and answered related questions.  The following staff from OYA/OIYA led the tour: Director of Case Management Robbie Smith; Health Services Administrator Elaine Witter; Clinical Director Anna Ferguson; and Orange County Public Schools Lead Teacher Tiffany King.

Mr. Tumley and Mr. Andrews came from the United Kingdom with the hopes of having exchange students from Coventry University visit OYA/OIYA in the future to help their students better understand what these particular facilities in the State of Florida are doing for DJJ youth and so the students can learn more about residential commitment services.  During the tour, the visitors from Conventry University agreed the highlight was seeing one youth—who was working on a math problem in class—receive positive encouragement and assistance from his classmates, helping him solve the problem.                       

Shown left (L-R):  Monica Webb, Robert Tumney , OYA/OIYA Facility Administrator Kerrick May, Tiffany King, Jonathan Andrews, Robbie Smith (OYA/OIYA staff member), Elaine Witter (OYA/OIYA staff member), and Anna Ferguson (OYA/OIYA staff member). 

Escambia Boys Base (formally known as Pensacola Boys Base) has done it again!  This is the second year that the non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc., has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.  This award encourages citizens to live a life of service through presidential appreciation and national recognition.  This is the first year the facility has received the gold status.  To be eligible for this level of recognition, the group had to complete over 1,000 hours of service over a 12-month period.

The program was nominated for this award by the local Habitat for Humanity program. The award was presented to the program, Jan. 24, in Pensacola.

The boys have learned the importance of volunteerism and have gained a better understanding of what it takes to give back to others.  The young men at Escambia Boys Base should be very proud of all their hard work and time volunteered in their community!

The Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment (JUST), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 17, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. operates a full service Boys and Girls Club that provides various activities comparable to those found in the community.  The Boys and Girls Club assists the young men in transition planning when the youth completes his stay at JUST by connecting him to the local Boys and Girls Club in the community.  

The letter below was written by youth D.W., expressing his appreciation for the Boys and Girls Club and it helped him turn his life around, taught him responsibility, and showed him that he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

What the Boys & Girls Club Means to Me

By Youth D.W.

…This is a story of my life; a once was juvenile "Billy bad ass". Just like any other typical teenager, I was just trying to fit in with the wrong crowd and, at the time, I knew what I was doing was wrong but I stuck with it any way. Things like running the streets late at night, selling dope, breaking into houses or partying every weekend. Basically living the fast life until one day it came to a halt.

I ended up getting locked up for possession of marijuana and even though it was my first time getting caught, the judge did not show any mercy and adamantly sentenced me to nine months in a juvenile detention facility. I dreaded going but there was no way I was getting out of this and I had fallen and I was down for good, so I thought.

My first three months were a little crazy. Something new, new place, new people, new rules, new everything. Then I met a program that really turned my life around; Boys and Girls Club. There were just so many new things that I could learn. Like how to fish, how to grow vegetables and fruit (which was really fun because we for to eat them when they were ready) and I learned how to return a punt. I was really good at it too. I was so good that the Boys and Girls Club teacher told me I could make it to the NFL one day which made me happy because I have never heard someone talk good about me before. So I thought to myself, maybe this program isn't so bad after all. I also learned how to stay fit and some really cool workouts.

But one of my favorite things I loved doing was building hog pens and raising hogs. I just loved to see what I was capable of and the things I could accomplish just by using the tools God gave me, my hands. We started off with only four hogs. Then there were 5, then 6, then 7, then 8 until we made our way up to fourteen hogs. How did we catch all of these hogs you ask? Well we built this big hog trap which was pretty cool. Eventually we had more hogs than we had space for so we started building more, bigger and better hog pens. So we ended up with fourteen hogs and three hog pens. All kinds of hogs. Big ones, little ones, black, brown, white and even spotted hogs. I never knew how many breeds of hogs there were. I thought all hogs were just hogs really. I even learned how to butcher the hogs. We had pork chops, sausage and bacon. We sold so much food and raised a lot of money for feed and supplies. I never knew that so much money could come from just a couple of hogs.

So at the end of my nine months, I learned so many cool things that I never knew. How something as good as Boys and Girls Club could come out of something as bad as getting locked up. So I guess I wasn't down for good after all. As a wise man once told me; any man can fall but it's up to that man to get back up. The once was juvenile "Billy bad ass" as we knew was no longer there. He was on his way to bigger and better things. So it goes to show you that it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from or what you have been through. You can always succeed no matter what. So what does Boys and Girls Club mean to me ... it means a new start, a new beginning and a path to success.