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Secretary's Message

February 29, 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

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation 

Congratulations to the Juvenile Justice Detention Officers (JDOs) and Juvenile Justice Probation Officers (JPOs) who graduated on February 26, 2016 at Valencia College, Criminal Justice Institute in Orlando, Florida. A special thank you to Tim Niermann, Deputy Secretary, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to Learning Consultants Kiva Hagans, Christina Ash, Barbara Campbell, Artavia Parrish, Andrea Minnis and adjunct instructor Khalilah Daniels who trained the officers for these positions of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility or circuit listed next to their names.

Valencia College JDO Graduates

Front row (left to right):   Alan Hayes — Seminole County Sherriff’s Office, Alex Hernandez-  Orange RJDC, Anthony Wilson - Seminole County Sherriff’s Office, Przemyslaw Lisewski – Seminole County Sherriff’s Office, Emmanuel Morales-Velez – Orange RJDC, Steven Stewart - Orange RJDC

Back Row:  Amanda Campbell - Brevard RJDC, Staycha Harris - Brevard RJDC, Devyn Phelps - Pasco RJDC, Victor Morales -Orange RJDC, Romario Dennis - Okaloosa RJDC, William Sieger – Orange RJDC, Joseph Huffman – Orange RJDC, Reinaldo Gonzalez – Orange RJDC

Valencia College JPO Graduates

Front row (left to right): Amelia Putman – Circuit 10, Jasmine Floyd – Circuit 10, Sarah Legg – Circuit 10, Susannah Schiebel – Circuit 10 

2nd Row L-R: William Cook – Circuit 10 , Emily Misquitta – Circuit 18, Amanada Rieck – Circuit 10, Sandra Carrasquillo – Circuit 9, Wakesha Phidd – Circuit 10, Ilia Ortiz-Bergada – Circuit 10, Nicole Luebke – Circuit 10, Renide Daniels – Circuit 9 

3rd Row L-R: Angel Cardona – Circuit 9, Sheldon Tang – Circuit 10, Ivan Colon – Circuit 13, Jomarcus Scott – Circuit 9, Timothy Owens – Circuit 9, Bryce Hatley – Circuit 9, Michael Nappi – Circuit 9, Elizabeth Erwin – Circuit 9

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) is partnering with Tallahassee’s Madison Social Restaurant for a fundraising event entitled Tailgate for America. The event will take place prior to Florida State University’s Garnet & Gold Spring Football Game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on April 9. The tailgate party begins at 10 a.m. prior to the 3 p.m. kickoff at the Citrus Bowl and will feature a meet and greet with former Seminole players, music, and much more.

The price for admission to the tailgate is $25 dollars and includes a BBQ lunch and beverages. More importantly, the FJJF will receive $10 for each ticket sold. This is an exciting opportunity to bond with other Seminole fans prior to kickoff while supporting the work that the FJJF does for the youth in the state of Florida.

If you are interested in participating in this unique event, please click on the link above to purchase tickets. We hope to see you there! 

Probation Update

Director of Policy and Programming for the Office of Probation Jeannie Becker-Powell has recently been reappointed to the Independent Living Services Advisory Council. The Council was created by the Florida Legislature to review and recommend improvements in the implementation and operation of the Road-to-Independence Program. Congratulations to Jeannie on her reappointment to the Council!

Circuit 10 Reform Specialist Vernolda Dilworth attended the annual Health & Wellness Community Fair on February 20 at the Winter Haven Recreational and Cultural Center. Vernolda’s attendance was to support DJJ’s family engagement initiative, as she staffed an information booth which gave her the opportunity to interact with families throughout Winter Haven and Polk County. The purpose of the fair was to increase health awareness through education and prevention.

Probation administration and selected staff members from Circuit 18 attended the Brevard County Stakeholders Trauma Informed Care and Positive Youth Development Summit. The summit featured keynote speakers Davina Alexander, Lucas Boyce, and Lydia Joyner all of whom are former foster care youth who have overcome tremendous obstacles to become nationally known motivational speakers. In addition, COO for the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Leonard Burton spoke on the topic of improving child welfare. The DJJ staff in attendance participated in the adult café discussion where recommendations were made on how best to implement services that meet the needs of our youth to help them achieve success.  

Back row: JPO Kathy Meru, JPOS Lisa Ford, JPO Stephanie Norton, JPO Sarah Bachmaier, Leonard Burton, DCPO Omar Bohler, Sara Greenblatt (Jim Casey Foundation)  seated: CPO Denise Devlin, Director of Programs Brevard Family Partnership Ashley Carraro.

ACPO Dorothy Malik and Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson from Circuit 19 attended a teen dating awareness symposium on February 6 which was hosted by We Leap, Inc. The symposium was designed to increase teen awareness about the effects of dating violence and date rape. DJJ and fifteen other providers were on hand to provide resources to both teens and their parents who attended. Dorothy and Michelle presented handouts on the Roadmap to System Excellence, civil citation, and gang prevention. 

Left: Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson poses with Deputy Abel from the Saint Lucie Co. Sheriff’s Office

Right: ACPO Dorothy Malik is with Gwen McCloud, executive director of We Leap

Detention Update

The Office of Detention Services is pleased to announce that they have hired three new statewide trainers that will provide additional training for detention officers and staff members throughout Florida. They are:

Paul Britten- Paul has worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice for two years at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Prior to obtaining a position with the Department of Juvenile Justice, he was a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He has a BA in Criminal Justice through Florida A&M University with a minor in Psychology. Paul is Instructor Techniques and Suicide Prevention certified and a PAR trainer.  

Wesley Tunuufi Sauvao- Wesley began his career with the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2014 as a juvenile justice detention officer.  He was promoted to a supervisor and is a certified CPR/First Aid/AED instructor.  Wesley graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2011 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice/Psychology with an undergraduate certificate in Victim Advocacy. 

Adrian Mathena- Adrian has been employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice for thirteen years and has served the last nine years as a juvenile probation officer supervisor.  Mr. Mathena has served as a DRAI trainer, a PACT trainer, a QI peer reviewer, an administrative reviewer, and as the North Region PACT coordinator.  Mr. Mathena was heavily involved with Statewide PACT Implementation Committee starting in 2005 and was awarded along with that group a Davis Productivity Award in 2007. 

I am also pleased to announce the Lawrence Palmer has been named the superintendent for the Brevard RJDC. Lawrence brings a wealth of knowledge to the facility, serving social services in the state of Florida for 28 years. Palmer was a juvenile probation officer in Titusville before taking the position with the RJDC, and served as child protection investigator with both the Public Defender’s Office in Circuit 18 and the Department of Children and Families. He also supervised the unit that handled Human Trafficking Investigations in Orange and Osceola County. He has an extensive knowledge of the Florida Court System and Florida Statutes pertaining to child welfare.

A former Reservist with the United States Army from 1982 until 1989, Lawrence has a Bachelor's in Criminology with a minor in Political Science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He is an active member in his community, previously being a member on the Board of Crosswinds Youth Service, Country Acres Shelter Home, Frances Walker Halfway House and Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Florida.  He is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. 

Photo Right: Roy Miller, #97, Defensive Tackle (back row) Maurice Williams, Former Jaguar Offensive Tackle Tyler Shatley, #69, Guard Davon House, #31, Cornerback Joseph Anthony “Red” Bryant, Former Jaguar Defensive End Stefen Wisniewski, #61, Center. Front Row: Dawn Dow, Nurse Manager Delmonica Harris, ADS Sandie Northcutt, DMHA

Several members of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars made a visit to the Duval RJDC on February 18 to inspire our youth and speak to them about their upbringing prior to their NFL careers. The youth listened closely as these players described their history, which included problems in school and  home life, peer pressure amongst their family and friends, and making the right decisions for themselves in order to secure a good future. Each player was able to overcome their disadvantages and succeed in life and it proved to be a good experience for both our youth and staff members.

Youth from the Manatee RJDC received a special visit on February 18 from the hosts of the radio morning show “Orlando and the Freak Show,” which can be heard on 94.1 WLLD-FM in Tampa Bay. Hosts Orlando, Davy, Meredith and Mark presented a powerful message to our youth regarding the oppositions experienced throughout life and the different ways people handle adversities. The speakers stressed to the youth to follow their dreams and even if that dream doesn’t seem attainable at the time, perseverance and fortitude will get you there.  They stressed to GO HARD as there is a lot of competition out in the world and with determination, opportunities await you. Strive harder, work harder, and have determination was the message for the day.

The Teens Assisting Puppies (TAPS) program from the Alachua RJDC recently received a new litter of adorable puppies that our teens will care for until they are ready to be adopted. These puppies were graciously donated by the Pixel Fund and they give our youth the opportunity to receive valuable pet therapy while housed in our facility.  Please visit the Pixel Fund website if you or someone you know is interested in adoption. 

The Office of Detention Services recently facilitated a personnel training for detention staff in Orlando. This training was conducted by both Headquarters staff and staff from the North Region Office. The training focused on the standardization of personnel practices statewide.

Pictured are: David Peoples, Karla Edwards, Whitley Waymon, Dixie Fosler, Sandra Flament, Mary Lardie, Lisa Arent, Annie Roberts, Lynnesha Sanders, Tianna Waldon

Prevention Update 

The DJJ Faith Network in Circuit 2 held their monthly meeting on January 28 at the New Birth Tabernacle of Praise in Tallahassee. During the meeting, the attendees mentioned ministries and faith-based organizations that were interested in joining the Faith Network. Pastor Rudolph Ferguson, Circuit 2 Faith Network Leader, addressed three topics that were important to him for the long-term growth and success of the network: organization, collaboration,  and information.

On January 25, youth from the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program, a DJJ prevention provider, visited the Florida Legislature and other Tallahassee sites. Twenty Prodigy ambassadors from six counties made a resounding entrance at the State Capitol. Their tour included a visit to the historic campuses of Florida A&M University and Florida State University, as well as a gig at a local middle school for students of the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Bend. Prodigy ambassadors followed a rigorous schedule of meetings, which included meetings with 12 state lawmakers and special appearances with Prodigy Moves in the Capitol Courtyard. Ambassadors also delivered an impromptu performance to DJJ Secretary Christy Daly and held a debriefing with Robert M. Levy & Associates, Inc., University Area Community Development Corporation’s government and public relations team.

I am pleased to share the following success story from the PACE Center for Girls in Clay County about a remarkable young lady named J.D.  J.D. is 18 and desires to be a college graduate. When she came to PACE in 2014, J.D. struggled with school attendance. She had an unstable home environment and was failing classes. She was full of worry and anxiety. She had no friends and felt lonely. When she heard of PACE, she wasn’t sure they could help her. What she found was a staff that cared and listened and encouraged her.

After being at PACE for a few months, J.D. began to excel in her academic work. She became a PACE Girl Ambassador which allowed her to speak to groups about her experience at PACE. One of J.D.’s highlights at PACE was traveling to Tallahassee to meet and speak with members of the Florida Legislature. She is a great ambassador for PACE and plans to attend Jacksonville University in spring 2016. J.D. wants to focus in the field of Information Technology.

Her words that she left PACE with were as powerful as they were touching. In a speech to all the girls at PACE Clay, she said, “Your past does not have to define you. One of my favorite quotes was in a Pixar movie: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’ 

Those basketball playing kids whose pick-up game on a Gainesville street turned them into instant You Tube sensations got another surprise when a local contractor and merchants donated labor and equipment to build a backyard court.

Then, their celebrity grew even more when Anthony “Buckets” Blakes, a member of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, came by for a casual game of hoops to break in the new court.

“Being a Harlem Globetrotter gives me a wonderful opportunity to do things like this and meet kids like you, officers and people in the community,” said Blakes, who majored in psychology at the University of Wyoming.

“I've had a chance to travel to 79 countries. I'm on my third passport now,” Blakes said. “I've seen a lot of things in the world and I've been blessed to have this round thing take me all over the world and help me get an education.”

To read more about Blakes’ visit and a fund set up by the Gainesville Police to purchase basketball equipment for children in other neighborhoods, go to:  Gainesville Sun

Residential Update

Earlier this month, youth and staff from Orange Youth Academy/Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, attended the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for its second anniversary celebration at the Orlando Public Library.  The event featured live entertainment, creative projects, and innovative demonstrations.  The boys were able to tour the recording studio, create videos, test the simulation technology, and speak with technology instructors.  This vocational opportunity for the young men allowed them to learn more about the technological field and related careers in the industry. 

In addition, on the same day, students and staff from OYA/OIYA partnered with Serenity’s Gift of Love, a non-profit organization with a mission to assist those who are hungry and homeless by leading them to become self- sufficient through providing food, clothing, toiletries and also connecting them to resources through various community programs.  The event was held at Lake Eola Park located in downtown Orlando and clothing items that were donated by personnel at OYA/OIYA were distributed to people in need.  The boys learned the importance of giving rather than receiving and had the opportunity to hear some of the life stories of those who received the clothing.  

President of the Marion County Branch of the NAACP Ms. Loretta Pompey Jenkins recently visited Marion Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc.  The purpose of the visit was to speak with the boys about Black History Month through the sharing of stories of various influential African Americans and through the discussion of historical dates, such as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States in 1865. 

Shown left (L-R):  Marion County School Board’s Program Manager Dawn Thomas, MYA Program Manager William Hanford; MYA Assistant Facility Administrator Rev. Reginald Willis Sr., and MYA Facility Administrator Keenan Bullard.

Francis Walker Halfway House, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, and Brevard Group Treatment Home, a non-secure program for boys, participated in experiential teambuilding ropes courses.  The boys and girls at the programs, which are both operated by Aspire Health Partners, were encouraged to work together to complete various challenging exercises, ranging from ground and low level activities to a high course.  Joined by counselors and staff, the boys and girls were able to rely on and encourage each other through the different challenges.  These exercises really helped to build trust and self-esteem among the group.  The same group has met twice already and will continue to meet over the next few weeks in order to build on the foundation of trust that everyone has worked to establish.

Below, you will find a link to the March 2016 edition of “The Wellness Wire.” This monthly publication provides calendars of events hosted by providers of Florida State Group Insurance and includes tips to improve health and well-being. Please help us promote this beneficial information by sharing this publication with your employees. 

Volume 4 | Issue 3 | March 2016