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Secretary's Message

March 28, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Spring symbolizes new beginnings and is a time of renewal, when plants and trees sprout new leaves and flowers bloom. The beginning of this new season is also an opportunity for us to be renewed and revitalized in our own lives. I encourage each of you to take a moment to reflect on the promise that new beginnings bring.  Sometimes in our lives, especially in the lives of the young people in our care, we must travel down difficult and tumultuous paths. However, the promise and hope of a new season and new beginning can make the journey worth it.  It was said best by Anne Bradstreet, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” 

As always, thank you for sharing your stories and the inspirational work you do to help turn around the lives of Florida’s youth and families. 


Christina K. Daly

Statewide Council on Human Trafficking

On Monday, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot and I attended the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking meeting in Tampa. During the meeting, I provided an update on DJJ’s statewide Human Trafficking Screening Tool implemented in our intake centers and juvenile detention facilities. The screening tool, which is celebrating its first year of statewide service, is used by our agency and the Department of Children and Families to screen for both labor and sex trafficking and is utilized with male, female, and transgender youth that are at-risk for trafficking victimization.

If you’d like to watch the meeting in its entirety, please visit the Florida Channel website or click here

2016 FJJA Adolescent Conference

The Florida Juvenile Justice Association is pleased to host the 21st Annual Adolescent Conference. For the past 21 years, FJJA has convened this conference, bringing together statewide and community providers, public-sector staff, educators, law enforcement and many other stakeholders offering high-quality presentations on topics of interest. This year FJJA will co-host the 2016 Adolescent Conference with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health (FCCMH).

The conference is designed to help to enhance the professional skills of child serving agencies who work with delinquent, dependent and community youth. The conference offers the opportunity to share and showcase proven prevention, intervention and treatment practices, disseminate knowledge into practice, and discuss implementation of effective strategies. Over the years we have included noted researchers, national experts, treatment providers, community leaders and others, to share findings of effectiveness in adolescent care.

FJJA is proud to include the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice as an ongoing partner in this conference, which acknowledges the efforts of committed professionals working with our troubled youth as well as increasing the training and professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of our workforce.

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, 2016 Youth of the Year Award Ceremony at the Hilton Carillon Hotel in St. Petersburg. The Boys and Girls Club, a DJJ prevention program, was proud to award Noah Keiser of the Pinellas Park Club with their Youth of the Year Award. Noah wrote:

"I’m thankful for the Boys and Girls Club for making me a type of person who can now be a leader to others and a role model to my peers. When it was time for me to finally get a job and I turned 16 years old, the Club immediately helped me find places to apply that would be a good first job.

“Then, after finding a place to apply at, which was the movie theater, they helped me with applying and writing a resume, which I had never done before. With everyone’s help towards my job application, within the next two days, the theater called me in for an interview. I was so excited and ready to start making my own money. They even helped me practice for my interview.

“Then when my interview came up, I got the job with ease. I’ve kept my job for two years now, and because of the opportunities the Club gave me to become a leader type person, like being in charge of the kids at times while on field trips, I became a supervisor over time at my job and got a raise. My bosses at work love me because of how much of a good supervisor I’ve become that they actually asked me to become a manager there.

“The Boys and Girls club turned me into a better human-being. They showed me how to have fun and made sure I wasn’t lonely or hungry anymore. Because of the Boys and Girls club, I now have huge offers in the world. I have the capability now to do what I want in life now. I found my passion in life. I found a reason to enjoy life because of the Club."

In addition to giving a speech, the successful candidate participated in small-group interviews with judges.  Judges included Jim Sewell (Chairman), Juvenile Welfare Board; Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times; Susan Juhl, Bright House Networks; Johnathan Stanton, Lema Construction Club Alumni; Helen Barrott, Public Relations/ Marketing Academy Prep; and Thomas DuPont, Owner DuPont Registry.  Sponsors included: Bright House Networks, Tech Data, Raymond James, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and General Dynamic.

Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Circuit 7 JPOS Stephanie McKinzie conducted a Faith Network training on March 19 at the Pentecostal Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Daytona Beach. During the Faith Network training, Craig provided an introduction and overview of DJJ and the Faith Network. He discussed the importance of providing services to youth and families and explained chaplaincy procedures.

Stephanie assisted by providing information specific to the circuit. Attendees were interested in learning more about mentoring and providing faith-based services within the juvenile facilities in the surrounding areas.

Residential Update

Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, a high-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.  The residents enjoyed a breakfast of green eggs, sausage, cheese, biscuit, and orange juice. 

A few days before the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, Community Case Manager Ann McPherson taught five youth in the transition group how to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast, the residents made eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit.  Then, they made tacos for lunch and, finally, they grilled salmon and made a side for dinner.  Teaching the youth how to prepare various healthy meals is important as they transition out of the program and back into the community. 

Beginning last month, programs in the south region that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC launched an initiative to focus on positive staff-to-youth and youth-to-youth relationships titled, “It Doesn’t Just Happen: A Proactive Approach to Preventing Program Disruptions.”  One aspect of the initiative includes an anti-bullying campaign and poster contest. 

Each program submitted their first and second place winners to the G4S regional team.  Region wide winners will be selected in the next few weeks and prizes will be awarded.

Last month, Bartow Youth Academy (BYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, held three events for the residents.  The first involved a community outreach seminar led by Pastor Eddie Lake (shown in the photo to the right) of New Bethel AME Church of Lakeland.  He spoke with the youth about the importance of making positive decisions, setting goals, and using community resources.  He shared his experiences of being a teenager and the adversities he faced while growing up.  

A few days later, Job Corp Admissions Counselor Susan Upleger (shown left) visited BYA to explain the Job Corps admissions process.  Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED®, and find and keep a good job.  In her hour-long presentation, she discussed with the general professional expectations, how to choose the right career, Job Corps benefits, and Job Corps requirements.

Lastly, several youth from BYA were invited to the 1,267-acre Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.  Each youth provided three hours of community service while at the reserve.  They helped remove plants and weeds from various areas while also having the opportunity to learn about the reserve’s primary functions. 

Detention Update 

On March 23, Transportation Coordinator Leon Madison from the Marion RJDC was named Detention Services’ February Employee of the Month for the North Region. Chief of Operations Sheddrick Brooks presented Leon with this tremendous honor. Leon’s wife and children were in attendance for the ceremony as well as detention officers, JPOs, regional staff members, teachers, and medical and mental health staff. 

Probation Update

On March 11, Probation staff in Circuit 14 held a graduation ceremony for those staff members who successfully completed the training and fidelity phases of the EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision) training. Eleven probation staff members made up of JPOs, SJPOs and JPOSs were presented certificates for their successful completion of the EPICS project and will now move into the maintenance phase of EPICS for appropriate moderate to high and high-risk youth.

Staff Who Have Completed Six Month EPICS Training and Fidelity Process:

Left to Right Back Row:   JPOS Fred Womack, Sr. JPO Samantha Jones, JPO Christie Wills, JPO Greg Parker, JPO Jake Fisher, Sr. JPO Derrick Henderson

Left to Right First Row:  Reform Specialist Bree Thaxton (Certified EPICS Trainer) , JPO Mary Zahasky, Sr. JPO Heather Nowell, JPOS Michelle McCaskill, Sr. JPO, JPO Clint Schweers, Sr. JPO Kevin McKenzie

Center Foreground:  Sr. JPO Jennifer Lowe, Sr. JPO Donna Smith, Assistant Chief Probation Officer Marci Reightnour

Six EPICS coders and internal coaches were also presented with special certificates for their involvement in the process and for taking on a leadership role within the Circuit 14.   As part of the ongoing implementation plan for EPICS, new staff will begin training in June 2016.  These trained coders and internal coaches will continue to build their skills with this evidence-based service by assisting the newer staff members. 

Certified Coders and Internal Coaches:

Left to Right Back Row:  Sr. JPO Donna Smith, Sr. JPO Samantha Jones, JPO Greg Parker, Sr. JPO Derrick Henderson

Left to Right Front Row:  Sr. JPO Kevin McKenzie, Sr. JPO Jennifer Lowe

Four team members from Eckerd’s Project Bridge Transition program volunteered at the local PBS station in Miami on March 10 to take pledges in support of the public programming fundraiser. Eckerd was also thanked on-air for their help with this endeavor.

The Wellness Wire

Below, you will find a link to the April 2016 issue of “The Wellness Wire,” courtesy of the Department of Management Services.

Volume 4 | Issue 4 | April 2016