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Secretary's Message

April 11, 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

Delaware Delegation Visit 

Last week, our Executive Leadership Team was proud to welcome a delegation from the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. This department houses their Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services and the Family Division of the Delaware Department of Justice. During their three day visit, the delegation participated in comprehensive sessions outlining DJJ services and oversight responsibilities. The agenda included learning opportunities covering the different aspects of Florida’s prevention, probation and residential services to learning more about the civil citation process, research and data integrity, as well as monitoring and quality improvement.

Many of our ELT members hosted tours of several of our programs in and around the Big Bend area. One of these visits included a trip to the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County and Capital City Youth Services. All of the members of the delegation were amazed to the lengths our agency goes to provide quality services to youth and their family and flew back to Delaware with a wealth of new knowledge. 

FJJF Tailgate for America

I would like to extend a major thank you to all of our DJJ team members and the Florida State Seminole fans who attended the Tailgate for America prior to Saturday’s Garnet and Gold Spring Football game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. This unique event, which was hosted by the Madison Social restaurant in Tallahassee, included a barbeque luncheon, beverages, a chance to meet former Seminole players, as well as networking opportunities for fellow Seminoles.

A portion of the proceeds from this great event went to the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation to support their great work for our youth in the state of Florida. More than 350 tickets were sold, and with the additional donations at the event, more than $4,000 was raised for the Foundation.

Huge kudos to Caroline Ray and Pat Tuthill, FJJF staff and the FJJF Board members. FJJF board members volunteering and in attendance were Paul Mitchell, Pastor Cindy Lane, Dorea Mays, Tadar Muhammad and Allen Roosa. Thank you to the DJJ staff members who assisted – Chief Probation Officer Jill Wells, JPO Aaron Rivas, JPO Chante Green, Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson, and Finance and Accounting Bureau Chief Libby Grimes. I’d also like to thank Rosen Hotel staff member Tashia Henderson for volunteering.   

Law Enforcement Torch Run

On April 5, staff from DJJ Headquarters took part in the 33rd Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run benefiting Special Olympics in Tallahassee. DJJ team members along with other state agencies ran from the Publix on South Monroe Street to the steps of the Capitol Courtyard,  totaling approximately 1.7 miles. More than 300 law enforcement officers and supporters joined Attorney General Pam Bondi and Special Olympics CEO and President Sherry Wheelock at the kick-off event.

The Torch Run marked the beginning of a 1,500-mile journey, as Florida law enforcement and corrections officers will carry the Flame of Hope throughout Florida. Eight thousand members of the law enforcement and corrections community will carry the torch to the opening ceremonies at the Annual Florida State Summer Games. The torch will reach its home in Lake Buena Vista in time for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics' Florida State Summer Games, which starts May 20th at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Thank you to all of the DJJ staff members that participated in this amazing event! 

Back row: Onazina Washington, Matt Hefelfinger, Warren Garrison, Conrad McCray, Colette Antozzi, Assistant Secretary Dixie Fosler, Tonja White-Mathews, Chantelle Dishman, Josh Kuch, Marcus Smith, Sam Lyons 

Front Row: Angela Cleveland, Vanessa LeMire, Tiffany Baylor, Verla Lawson-Grady, Gloria Gatlin, Diamond Ragin, Susan Rodgers, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims 

Not Pictured: Marie Riou, Dewey Riou

National Center for Juvenile Justice’s Evidence-Based Resource Center

Florida was recently included in a publication of the National Center for Juvenile Justice’s Evidence-Based Resource Center. The case study is entitled Evidence-Based Policies, Programs & Practices in Juvenile Justice: Three States Achieving High Standards Through State Support Centers and evaluated three states’ efforts in developing, establishing and perpetuating statewide evidence-based practice support centers.. The three states included in the case study were Nebraska, Connecticut, and Florida, with Nebraska having the newest statewide evidence-based practice support center and Florida having the longest perpetuating statewide center. The case study illustrated that “Each state is unique and there is no single blueprint for developing and establishing a state support center…Each support center is a product of strong leadership; a clear vision regarding evidence-based practice in juvenile justice; a flexible approach; strong capacity for collecting, processing, and applying data; and highly developed collaborative relationships among key system partners.”

Thank you to Director of Program Accountability Amy Johnson and Christopher Goodman, Amy Greenwald and Sandra Johnson of the Office of Program Accountability for taking the lead on working with the National Center for Juvenile Justice on this case study project as well as various program staff that assisted with visits to detention, probation and residential programs and a juvenile assessment center.   

 Statewide Council on Human Trafficking

Last Monday, I participated in the Legislative and Special Initiatives Committee of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking in Tallahassee. Our DJJ Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot presented at the meeting, along with staff from DCF and the Office of the Attorney General.  The presentations included information regarding initiatives that other states have undertaken to address human trafficking. Studying the strengths of other states’ models will allow us to continually try to strengthen Florida’s response to human trafficking. 

In addition, there was a presentation from Senior Deputy Prosecutor Valiant Richey from Kings County, Washington on what his jurisdiction was doing to identify methods to end the demand for commercial sex. Richey said that the best way to fight human trafficking is to crack down on men who seek to buy sex from prostitutes, and that Kings County is vigorously prosecuting both buyers and pimps. More information can be found in the following article from News 4 in Jacksonville.

National Conference on Juvenile Justice

On March 20-23, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges held their annual National Conference in Las Vegas and our very own Chief of Research and Data Integrity Mark Greenwald was on hand to present during the conference.

Mark discussed how research and data can be used to dispel common myths and misconceptions in juvenile justice systems. The presentation was well received and Mark received a thank you letter from the organizers of the event. 

National Center for Juvenile Justice's (NCJJ) Andrew Wachter, MS; Melissa Sickmund, Ph.D; Mark Greenwald, M.J.P.M. of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; and NCJJ's Teri Deal, M.Ed. 

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. 

Detention Update

Best wishes to Assistant Superintendent Valencia Horton from the St. Lucie RJDC who retired from DJJ on March 29. Valencia has been with the St. Lucie team for more than 30 years, and in that time she has worn many hats and played many roles with our agency. 

Assistant Superintendent Horton has worked with youth on a daily basis and has a special gift of working with the most troubled individuals. She motivates them to build healthy relationships especially with their families. On behalf of the entire Department, I would like to thank Valencia for her years of service and for making a difference in the lives of others. We wish you all the best in your retirement!

Ms. Rachelle Navarro has been teaching at the Leon RJDC for the last ten years in the fields of science, reading, and life skills. Recently, she challenged her students to write what she calls “Youth Expressions,” which teaches these young people to create poetry that speaks to how they feel and what they are going through. The assignment was a rousing success and I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading a selection of these Youth Expressions. The youth accurately express their feelings and hopes in life.  

The Bay RJDC Community Advisory Board and Bay District School Board Liaison Anne Martin recently put together a career week for youth at the facility. The purpose of the career event was to provide motivational guidance for youth who may not envision success in traditional career fields and to assist youth in understanding how to follow their passion and how to create their own successful path. The career week featured participants from Gulf World Marine Park, the National Oceanographic Association, a local realtor, an owner of a successful auto mechanic business, and an entrepreneur who himself was in and out of juvenile detention centers as an adolescent.

I would like to thank the Advisory Board at Bay and Ms. Martin for establishing working partnerships within the local community that continue to support our youth at the facility. 

The advisory board and administration at the Duval RJDC has started a monthly birthday club for those youth in the facility who are celebrating a birthday. Last month, each youth who celebrated a birthday was presented with a personalized card which was signed by Superintendent Darrell Johnson and Assistant Superintendents Michael Philpot and Delmonica Harris. In addition, the youth were brought to the dining hall where AS Harris and Sargent Janine McNeil sang Happy Birthday to them while they read their birthday cards. Each youth was given cake and ice cream as well. The event was a huge success and AS Harris plans to continue this tradition next month.  

Also retiring in March, I would like to send warm wishes to JJDO Wanda Glee from the Duval RJDC who retired on March 31. Officer Glee was celebrated by her fellow co-workers during a reception held at the facility.

JJDO Wanda Glee has been with DJJ for the last 24 years and was a valued employee with Duval RJDC. The administration at Duval presented her with a plaque thanking her for all of her hard work and dedication. On behalf of the entire Department, I would like to wish Wanda the best in her future endeavors. 

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims attended the Taking My City Back Through Prayer event on March 26 at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. The event recognized fifteen men in the community for their outstanding work and the impact they have made in Tallahassee and surrounding communities on combating juvenile crime and delinquency.

Joe Thomas, with Visions of Manhood was one of the recipients as well as Ernie Sims, III, Ernie Sims BIG HITS Foundation.  Mr. Thomas is a current prevention provider with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and provides mentoring services for young men in Tallahassee. Mr. Sims was recognized for his work for mentoring youth and young adults and providing college scholarships to student-athletes. Assistant Secretary Sims accepted the award on his behalf. Over 200 people attended the event including the Circuit 2 Faith Leader and Pastor Rudy Ferguson, who was also honored for his work with New Birth Tabernacle of Praise.

In the above photo, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims and Joe Thomas with Visions of Manhood.

Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain joined with faith partners in Tallahassee to participate in the “Do Good for Your Hood,” event on March 22 in the Griffin Heights Community. “Do Good in Your Hood” was designed to bring together faith partners who work in the neighborhood in standing against crime in their community.

The event is an initiative of the Frontline Project, and is led by Pastor Rudolph Ferguson, Sr. who leads the Circuit 2 Faith Network. This event was designed to bring the faith community together to combat gun violence and drug issues within the community, while ensuring that youth and families live and attend school within a safe and nurturing environment.

Community Engagement Specialist Verla Lawson-Grady and Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III attended the My Life Steering Committee meeting on March 23 at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee. Magellan Complete Care, in partnership with the Palmer Munroe Teen Center, DJJ, and a number of service agencies met to begin planning for My Fest Tallahassee and discuss the direction of MyLife Tallahassee and some new initiatives for 2016.

The Steering committee discussed several changes to the MyLife format and introduced a new partner, Five Points Technology Group. My Life is a fun and inspiring group servicing youth between the ages of 13 to 23 who have mental health, substance abuse, foster care and/or other life challenges.  

Residential Update

A youth who was at Union Juvenile Residential Facility several years ago recently expressed how thankful he is to have been placed in one of the Department’s residential programs.  Union JRF is non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 19, and is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC.  He sent the following email to former Facility Administrator Mike Smith:

“Hey Mr. Smith it's [youth BD]. I graduated the program back in 2013 in June. I just really wanted to thank you a lot because of the program I've developed so much and came a long way these past 3 years. I can't thank you and all the staff who helped me enough. I've stayed out of trouble with the law, I've used so much y'all have taught me there and applied it. Again thank you for being so wonderful and God bless you Mr. Smith.”

Alachua Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, celebrated Easter with a host of activities.  The girls each received an Easter basket, which included chocolates and a stuffed bunny.  Then, they went out front for an Easter egg hunt.  After finding all 55 eggs, they headed over to the recreational area, where an additional 38 eggs were hidden.  Sonny’s BBQ® delivered a delicious lunch, which included chicken, pork, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, garlic and corn bread, lemonade, and tea.  In addition, Program Administrator Kelly Rogers made banana pudding for everyone.  The festivities concluded with an Easter message from Minister Myra Monroe Carr. 

Residents at Hastings Comprehensive and Gulf Academy, both non-secure programs for boys, ages 13 to 19 and 12 to 19, respectively, which are both operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt.  Before the hunt began, all youth were informed about a gold egg and whoever found it would receive a special prize.  The young man who found the egg received a special Easter basket, which contained a chocolate Easter bunny, crossword puzzles, extra personal items, and pieces of candy.

A few weeks ago, Orange Youth Academy/Orange Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA), both non-secure programs for boys, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, attended an open-panel discussion by speakers representing the Black History Project at Rollins College in Winter Park.  The Black History Project was developed to educate youth in central Florida about the experiences faced by African-Americans throughout history.  The goal of the project is to empower students to take pride in their cultural history while cultivating self-esteem and self-worth.  This specific panel discussion focused on the importance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Greek organizations, and specifically how HCBUs and NPHCs have contributed to the empowerment and progression of minorities.  Licensed Mental Health Therapist at OYA/OIYA Elizabeth “Liz” Byars delivered a speech and the youth enjoyed a step show by the NPHC organization.  The panel discussion concluded with opportunities for the youth to apply for scholarships and grants. 

In addition, OYA/OIYA recently had guests from Steadfast Ministries come out to the programs and volunteer to serve the youth breakfast.  The residents enjoyed the meal, which included bacon, grits, eggs, oatmeal, sausage, chicken, pancakes, and orange juice.  Great fellowship and camaraderie was shared among the volunteers from Steadfast Ministries and the students. 

Over Easter weekend, three youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., participated in the annual Easter play at Evangel Temple Assembly of God. These three youth had speaking roles in the play that occurred both on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday.  On both days, staff and other residents attended and supported these youth.  

Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, LLC, held a family day and staff appreciation event.  Family days occur quarterly at BYTC, and the event allows the boys to have an extended guest list to encourage family reunification.  The event had onsite carnival vendors, which included several different rides and treats for everyone to enjoy.  Staff grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and the vendors prepared fries, cotton candy, fried Oreos, shish kebabs, ribs, chicken and pork marinade, and funnel cakes.  

Probation Update

Central Region Probation Director Cathy Lake organized a joint meeting between Central Region DJJ staff and representatives from the Department of Children and Families on April 6 to discuss the structure of both agencies, best practices, and recognizing challenges that both organizations face. Chief Probation Officers from the Central Region were in attendance as well as regional staff from DCF. The conversation went above and beyond expectations and future meetings are planned between the two agencies which will include the cross-training of staff members.

Pictured from left: Jill Wells, Circuit 9 CPO; Kristi Gray, DCF Communications Director; Stephanie Weis, DCF Regional Family Safety Director; Bill D’Aiuto, DCF Central Region Managing Director; Cathy Lake, Central Region Director; Phil Scarpelli, DCF Regional SAMH Director; Kristen Richardson, Operations Review Specialist Central Region Probation; Alison Fulford, Circuit 10 CPO; Shakira Hunt, DCF Operations Manager; Rick Bedson, Circuit 5 CPO. 

Probation staff from Circuit 10 held a family engagement event at the Lakeland Police Department on March 30. DJJ partnered with the local police department to present information to the community in an effort to prevent juvenile crime. They answered many questions from the over 60 youth and parents in attendance, and offered them door prizes and a dinner during this informative event. My thanks to CPO Alison Fulford, ACPO Amy Stiles, JPOSs Tricia Elliott, Rachael Pierre-Louis and Cindy White, and Reform Specialist Vernolda Dilworth who made this event a reality. 

Staff Development and Training Update

Last month, Staff Development and Training partnered with The North Highland Group to kick-off their newest project on Succession Planning and Competency Modeling. The project sponsor, Director Denny Clark, has spearheaded the efforts for incorporating a system that will allow for the development and management of leaders and emerging leaders within DJJ.

The core team consists of Staff Development and Training Director Denny Clark, GOC II Robert “Danny” Rutherford, Business Office Manager Lynn Redmond, North Highland Group Engagement Manger Peter Cotterrell, Project Manager Dianne Rodriguez, Data and Analytics Consultant Sean Macey and Succession Planning Lead Samantha Ahrens.

We would like thank our DJJ partners within this project; Bureau of Human Resources, Research and Data Integrity and Management Information Systems. The team has also adopted a mascot for the project, as seen in the picture. His name is Mark, and yes, he is a minion!

From left to right: Dianne Rodriquez- North Highland, Robert “Danny” Rutherford- SD&T, Mark the Minion – Mascot, Denny Clark - SD&T, Peter Cotterrell - North Highland, Lynn Redmond - SD&T