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Secretary's Message

April 4, 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

10th Annual Women in History Program

Last Tuesday, I had the great privilege to be recognized during the 10th Annual Women in History Celebration, hosted by the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway. The theme for this year’s celebration was centered on honoring women in public service and government.  It was an exciting experience as I was recognized along with Secretary Julie Jones from the Department of Corrections and Sheriff Sadie Darnell from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, two highly esteemed and accomplished women. Kimberly Moore from Tallahassee Community College served as the Mistress of Ceremonies and Judge Stephanie Ray from the First District Court of Appeals was the keynote speaker.

I would like to thank the following Executive Leadership Team members who were on hand for the event: Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Detention Services Dixie Fosler, Director of Communications Heather DiGiacomo, General Counsel Brian Berkowitz, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Brimer, Health Services Administrator Chuck Corley, Executive Assistants Debbie Touchton and Adrian Woody, as well as Stacy Gromatski from the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. 

TCC Women’s History Month Program 

On Wednesday, I was honored to give the keynote address for the Tallahassee Community College (TCC) Women’s History Month program at the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education in Tallahassee. TCC’s annual event recognizes women for their outstanding leadership skills as well as their service to the community.  This year’s honorees included ten Tallahassee area women and five current TCC students. The nominees have made significant impacts in areas related to this year's theme, “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” These extraordinary women serve as role models, community activists, educators, and leaders.  It was a pleasure to take part in recognizing them for their hard work and accomplishments.

SNAP Program Training 

Last Monday, I attended a SNAP program training session in Orlando. The SNAP program is a family-focused intervention model for children under the age of 12 and their families that teaches them how to make the right decisions under pressure through positive reinforcement.

I met with SNAP facilitators and trainees as they went through the process of learning the program curriculum. The training was a success and I would like to thank the Office of Probation’s Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell for her hard work on this wonderful program. The training was even featured in a local Orlando news story and can be read here: WFTV Channel 9.

Pinwheels for Prevention

On Thursday, I attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee for the kick-off of the 2016 Pinwheels for Prevention Program, sponsored by The Ounce of Prevention Fund and Prevent Child Abuse Florida. Pinwheels for Prevention is a national campaign designed to increase awareness of child abuse prevention efforts and is coordinated statewide to highlight programs and activities that promote healthy child development and prevention of child abuse. The event coincided with the proclamation by Governor Rick Scott recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Florida.  

Detention Site Visits

This week, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann hit the road for site visits and tours of DJJ’s detention facilities in the South Region. During his three day trip, Deputy Secretary Niermann visited the Southwest Florida, Manatee, Marion and Collier Regional Detention Centers, and the Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Detention Centers.  Detention centers are for youth who have been detained under specific circumstances set by Florida statute. They hold youth that are awaiting court dates or placement in a residential program.

2016 FJJA Adolescent Conference

 The 2016 Adolescent Conference  "Building Bridges: Uniting for Youth, Families and Communities” will be held on April 20th and 21st, 2016 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.  This year FJJA will be co-hosting the 2016 Adolescent Conference with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health (FCCMH), a statewide association of community based mental health and substance abuse agencies across Florida.

The conference will continue to build on ongoing efforts to highlight the important role of local communities in meeting the needs of youth. The conference provides attendees with the opportunity to gain continuing education credits (CEU), to network with peers and experts and to share useful tools to help youth follow a crime free path.  The conference will showcase nationally recognized presenters and dynamic workshop sessions, including DJJ and statewide experts, who will share effective models, policies, research and information providing insights and best practices to address issues facing organizations serving troubled youth.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice probation officers (JPO) at the Florida Public Safety Institute and the juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) at Broward College who graduated Friday, April 1, 2016.  The probation officers will supervise youth in the community and the detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they await either an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Christy Daly, Secretary and Mamie Saintil, Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center Superintendent, for delivering the graduation address for the JPO and JDO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultants Denise Cannon, Christina Ash and Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis for training the officers for these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the circuits and regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Florida Public Safety Institute Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Kimberly Parker – Circuit 5, Christina Brown ­– Circuit 17, Tamedrea Mason – Circuit 17, Shelia Ramos – Circuit 7, Laura Tatum – Circuit 1

Middle Row: Diondra Pinckney – Circuit 5, Ashontis Pace – Circuit 2, Kim Patterson – Circuit 5, Ivey Coleman – Circuit 6, Michael Linsky – Circuit 4, Angelica-Maria Santiago – Circuit 17, Margorie Anderson – Circuit 2, Mukia Myrick – Circuit 9, Melissa Davis – Circuit 20

Third Row:  Jeanne Francis – Circuit 17, Giselle Alicea – Circuit 10, Marco Schirato  - Circuit 6, Andrew Beatty – Circuit 17, Johnny Young – Circuit 20, Ronald Smith – Circuit 6, Marion Burgess – Circuit 4, Federick Litchward- Circuit 4, Melanie Hopes – Circuit 13

Broward Community College Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Julie Reserve – Palm Beach, Oney Petit-Homme – Miami-Dade, Iesha Guerrier – Palm Beach, Sateria Gissendanner - Broward, Briana Cuyler – Broward

Back Row:  Jeff Lacroix – Miami-Dade, Patrick Gayle – Palm Beach, Alfredo Hudson – Miami-Dade, Marvin Reed – Miami-Dade, Andrew Brown – Miami-Dade, Learning Consultant Denise Cannon

Detention Update

The Escambia RJDC recently held their annual “Field Day” at the program.  Coordinated by the Education Department’s Coach Taylor, the event included an array of activities including tug of war, musical balls, basketball games, a parachute game, bean bag toss, art work, cookie design and much more.

In addition to the activities, all of the youth who participated received a special cook-out luncheon complete with hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. All youth received a special treat for 100% participation and the staff enjoyed watching the positive activities. 

Prevention Update

Staff members from the PACE Center for Girls of Alachua County received top honors at the inaugural “All About Girls Summit” last month in Orlando for exhibiting courage, seeking excellence, and acting with integrity and positive intent. The recipients were:

  • Michael Norowski, social services manager, who received the Tenure Award for 15 years of service to PACE.
  • Emi Lenes, a counselor, who received the Act with Integrity and Positive Intent Award.
  • Anthony J. Pierce, business manager, who received the Creating Partnership Award.

Founded in 1985, PACE Center for Girls began its journey with 10 girls in Jacksonville and now serves more than 2,000 girls each year in Florida. The organization strives to provide girls and young women with opportunities for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy.

In the above photo (from left to right): PACE Center for Girls award winners, Michael Norowski, Emi Lenes, Anthony J. Pierce and Natalya Bannister, executive director of PACE Alachua. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee and Circuit 19 CPO Wydee’a Wilson attended a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) conversation on March 23 at the River Walk Center in Fort Pierce. Seventeen law enforcement officers from the Fort Pierce Police Department, Port St. Lucie Police Department and the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office joined 20 program youth from agencies around the county.

The panel discussed perceptions relating to law enforcement presence in the community, profiling, youth peer relationships, and the benefits of positive adult role models.  The group also discussed how law enforcement officers balance the demands of their jobs with their roles as parents and spouses. G.A.A.P. conversations provide an effective, non-threating, relationship-building forum where youth develop better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement and where law enforcement officers gain a broader perspective of youth’s current world view.

Organizers for this initiative were: Chief Wydee’a Wilson, Circuit 19; Pat McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; and Shaniek Maynard, Executive Director of the Roundtable of St. Lucie County, who served as the facilitator.

Residential Update

Last week, Orange Youth Academy/Orange Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA), both non-secure programs for boys, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, were involved in a community clean up in Orlando.  The students picked up garbage in the historic Washington Shores district.  Through their participation in events such as this community clean up, OYA/OIYA residents learn the significance of maintaining a clean environment and giving back to their communities.  

OYA/OIYA also recently welcomed City of Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams as a guest speaker.  The students learned about his educational and personal journeys on the way to accomplishing his personal goals and of being appointed as the 19th Orlando Fire Chief by Mayor Buddy Dyer in February 2015.  The boys were very engaged throughout the entire presentation, which included a question and answer format so that the boys could ask questions to help them shape their futures.

Shown left: OYA/OIYA Facility Administrator Kerrick May and Fire Chief Roderick Williams. 

Last month, OYA/OIYA students and staff participated in the “Walk for Peace” sponsored by District 6 Commissioner Samuel B. Ings.  The one-mile walk began at the Frontline Outreach Center and concluded at the Hankins Park Recreation Community Center in Orlando.  Community members walked in unity to bring peace to local neighborhoods and communities at large.  The walk concluded with several motivational speakers addressing the audience.  OYA/OIYA students helped to serve hamburgers and hot dogs to all attendees at the end of the event. 

Shown above (L to R): Recreational Therapist Tavarius Roberson, City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings, and OYA/OIYA youth and community volunteers. 

One particular youth from Charles Britt Academy (CBA) has a lot to celebrate.  Youth AH from CBA, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., recently earned his high school diploma.  With hard work, dedication, and unmatched commitment from Pinellas County School Board teachers, he was able to accomplish this goal, which he set for himself when he first entered CBA.  Throughout his stay, youth AH never lost focus of this goal and he worked very hard in class every day, studied outside of class, and completed his assignments during personal leisure time.  In honor of his accomplishments, his family, volunteers, Pinellas County School Board officials, and CBA staff and youth all attended a graduation ceremony.  Special thanks go to Pinellas County School teachers Barbara Harris, RC Swain, Ladarius Halton, and Michelle Poole for their tireless commitment to youth AH and his goals.

A few months ago, CBA announced that they were going to partner with Pinellas County School Board to begin a new telecommunications course titled C-Tech.  After many hours of hard work and dedication from students and instructors, CBA announced that their first C-Tech class has been completed and all the youth who participated in the course are now officially certified in telecommunications.  Staff allowed the youth to collectively choose a restaurant to celebrate this great accomplishment.  They all agreed on Little Italy Pizzeria!  Pinellas County School Board members Eric McManus and Ms. Finkle deserve a special thanks for their vision and trust in the program and the youth to kick-off the C-Tech program at CBA.  

Residents at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., recently completed the six-week equine therapy program at Horse Haven Ranch in St. Augustine.  The ranch, which is a licensed SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center, operates as a not-for-profit organization that uses horses to teach youth basic life principles and to enhance their skillsets.  This program is one of the highlights for the students at Duval Academy.  The youth learn how to manage their anxiety, frustration, and excitement all in positive and interactive ways. 

Last week, the Duval Academy Advisory Board hosted a Mardi Gras party for the youth.  The residents enjoyed the entertainment at the event and especially had a great time participating in the line dancing!

In addition, Duval Academy recently participated in a basketball game at the Edward Waters College gym in Jacksonville, playing against  a group of youth from a program operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  By participating in the basketball game, the young men had the opportunity to learn the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and social skills. 

Additionally, the Duval Academy Faith Community Network partners continue to ensure that the residents are given the opportunity to participate in weekly faith-based activities on Saturdays.  

Probation Update

Circuit 18 ACPO Omar Bohler participated in a spectacular event on Easter Sunday entitled, “He Got Up”, sponsored by the Orlando Serve Foundation at the Citrus Bowl. This inaugural event leveraged existing resources to assist families and individuals in need or homeless with a path to self-sustainability. Over 5,000 volunteers connected with more than 30,000 individuals in need through an innovative resource fair. The event began with a church service and provided our less fortunate citizens with haircuts, clothes, meals and showers as well as medical screening, eyeglasses, legal services, veteran services, education services and job services. ACPO Bohler volunteered by grilling hotdog and hamburgers for the event. 

Circuit 3 Reform Specialist Michelle Galloway participated in a State of Florida Career Fair on March 25 at the Lake City National Guard Armory. Michelle represented DJJ by talking with the public about the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence, civil citations,  as well as career and volunteer opportunities available with DJJ.

Probation staff from the Plant City Probation Office in Circuit 13 (Unit 104) accompanied several probationary youth to participate in a food drive that benefitted the United Food Bank of Plant City. Unit 104 collected a total of 174 pounds of food in can good donations. All of the youth who participated received valuable community service hours for their efforts. The Executive Director of the Food Bank Christine Miller sent a letter of acknowledgement to Unit 104 on March 25 thanking them for their gracious donation and support of the Food Bank.

I am pleased to share the following letter that was sent to JPO Jael Arroyo from the Citrus County Probation Office in Circuit 5 from a youth in her care. The youth credits JPO Arroyo for improving the relationship between her and her family and highlights her plans post probation.