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Secretary's Message

April 25, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children 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

FJJA 2016 Adolescent Conference 

Last week marked the 21st Annual Adolescent Conference presented by the Florida Juvenile Justice Association April 20-21 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando. I was ecstatic to see so many of our DJJ employees in attendance not only to enhance their professional skills but also lead various workshops, which provided attendees the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in order to improve adolescent services. I’d like to recognize those employees who conducted workshops as well as thank them for representing our agency during the two day conference:

  • Director of Education Julie Orange led a workshop regarding education outcome measures which included the DOE/DJJ accountability and program improvement processes.
  • Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts led a discussion entitled, “Florida’s Civil Citation Initiative-A Win for Youth and the Community.”
  • Maureen Honan from the Office of Detention Services led the “PAWS for Justice: Allowing Pets to Breakdown Barriers and Build up Young People.”
  • ACPO Omar Bohler from Circuit 18 hosted the workshop entitled, “Verbal De-Escalation: Resolving Conflicts Early.” 
  • Director of Policy and Programming for the Office of Probation Jeannie Becker-Powell and Education Analyst Cindy Jones led, “Impact of Electronic Educational Exit Plan and Community Re-Entry Teams on the Transition Process.”
  • Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and members of the DJJ Faith Network led the workshop entitled, “Engaging the Faith Community.” 

Wednesday evening marked the annual awards ceremony for the 2016 Adolescent Conference. It’s always my favorite portion of the event because it gave me the opportunity to present the 2014-15 DJJ Teacher of the Year Award. This year, our agency partnered with the Department of Education and the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation to select the finalists for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award.  Three finalists were chosen and each finalist received a medal and monetary award.

I am pleased to announce that the 2014-2015 DJJ Teacher of the Year was awarded to Ms. Linda Baker from the Okeechobee Youth Development Center. For the last three years, Ms. Baker has taught an innovative reading class that incorporates technology into her curriculum, fostering a love for reading in her students.  Ms. Baker embraces the world of technology and its application in her classroom creates a fun and exciting environment for her students. This inventive approach allows her to engage with her students in a creative and new way, while ensuring that her students are learning and achieving academic success.

I also would like to recognize the other two finalists who were chosen from dozens of juvenile justice educators from across the state of Florida. They are:

  • Mr. Daniel Wynne- Mr. Wynne is an English and Reading teacher at the Miami Youth Academy (MYA) where he utilizes novels in his reading and writing instruction to help the youth at MYA develop strong comprehension skills. Mr. Wynne’s teaching practices allow the youth at MYA to achieve success in an academic setting and also develop the skills they will need once they return home and back into their communities. 

Ms. Vernestine Williams- Ms. Williams is an English teacher at the Okeechobee Youth Development Center (OYDC) where she has a passion for teaching her students to analyze and problem solve. Ms. Williams connects with her students through interactive and engaging activities, making the learning process enjoyable. While she sets high expectations for her students, she strongly believes in the potential of each and every one of them and in their ability to achieve greatness.

Volusia County Site Visits and Tour

On Monday, I traveled to Daytona Beach for a site visit at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention facility. I was accompanied by Superintendent Paul Finn, Assistant Superintendent Bill Bennis, Captain Andrea Akins and DJJ Education Specialist Cindy Jones. The Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center is a 64 bed, hardware secure facility that provides supervision of youth in a safe, secure and humane environment. Services for youth include: education, mental health, substance abuse, and health care.

Monday afternoon I was pleased to visit the Circuit 7 probation office in Daytona Beach where I answered questions from staff members and asked for their input on what’s working and suggested improvements needed at DJJ. I thanked them all for the hard work they continue to do to benefit the lives of Florida’s youth.

Cypress Creek Site Visit

On Thursday, Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield, Director of Communications Heather DiGiacomo and I traveled to Lecanto to lead a tour of the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (CCJOCC) and the Cypress Creek Treatment Center (CCTC) for Florida House of Representatives member David Richardson (D-Miami). The CCJOCC is a maximum-risk, staff- and hardware-secure, residential male program with an anticipated, average length of stay between 18 and 36 months. A youth's length of stay varies based upon his treatment needs and his individual progress. The program provides specialized treatment services for 64 males, ages 13 to 21, who are in need of Mental Health Overlay Services (MHOS). The CCTC is a high-risk residential program for 32 males, ages 13 to 21, who are in need of Mental Health Overlay Services. The anticipated, average length of stay for a high-risk youth is between 9 and 12 months. A youth’s stay at either of these programs varies based upon his individual treatment needs and his individual progress. 

Human Trafficking Update

Over the past week, Human Trafficking Director, Bethany Gilot, had the opportunity to lead Human Trafficking Screening Tool Train-the-Trainer (TTT) Trainings in Northeast and Northwest Florida. This training series will result in new HTST Trainers in every circuit. Thank you to those who participated in these trainings.

The Human Trafficking Screening Tool has been in use for just over a year now resulting in nearly 600 youth having new reports accepted by the Florida Abuse Hotline.  I am thankful for the continued dedication to this initiative and those working hard to identify children who come into our system that have been victims of this horrendous crime. 

Northeast Region HTST Trainers:  Pictured L -> R:   Meagan Olney-Circuit 5, Zemetria Anderson-Circuit 7, Valerie Tyson- Circuit 8, Valerie Ryals – Circuit 4.  Back: Christopher Massey – Circuit 7 (Not Pictured:  Meagan Pledger- Circuit 2, Renee Westmoreland- Circuit 1, Jennifer Lowe- Circuit 14) 

In addition, Bethany also had the opportunity to attend a training in Gainesville about how to better identify male victims of sex trafficking led by a male survivor of trafficking.  Jerome Elam shared his personal story of being a victim from ages 5-12, but also included how he ultimately healed from the trauma of those years.  After recounting a story of how he tried to commit suicide as a teenager, he stated that he knew he had to survive to speak out for those that were still victims. He stated:  “Every day that I live is a show to those that tried to break my spirit.” Bethany stated that it was a powerful reminder of the resiliency of our youth.    

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) who graduated Friday, April 22, 2016 from the Florida Public Safety Institute and Hillsborough Community College.  The detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Heather Hart, superintendent for Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Frank Gargett, detention services central region director, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO graduation. Kudos to Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace, Learning Consultant Kiva Hagans, Statewide Reviewer and Learning Consultant Barbara Campbell and Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Florida Public Safety Institute Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  T’ Keyah Dunkley - St. Lucie RJDC, Timothy Philips – Okaloosa RJDC , Frederick Hunt – Okaloosa RJDC, Susan Snyder – Collier RJDC, Douglas Donlon – Southwest FL RJDC, Ibis Rodriguez – Southwest FL RJDC

Second Row:  Thoreau Hamilton – Leon RJDC, Emmanuel Valdez-Ruiz – Escambia RJDC, Whitney R. White – Leon RJDC, Nikita Kirkland – Okaloosa RJDC, Devonte Davis – Escambia RJDC, Sandra Hill – Escambia RJDC

Third Row: Jack Dare – Southwest FL RJDC , Carlo Cameau – Collier RJDC, Zachary O’dell – Okaloosa RJDC, Keyla Ball – Collier RJDC, Xavier Jones – Okaloosa RJDC, Rumeal Hayes - Escambia, Cordivido Grice – Escambia RJDC

Hillsborough Community College Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  Matthew Fitzgerald - Pinellas RJDC, Kim Moore – Hillsborough RJDC, Victoria Owens – Pinellas RJDC, Charlsene Wilcox - Hillsborough RJDC, Sam Gibson – Hillsborough RJDC, Quaila Turner - Pinellas RJDC

Second Row:  Robert Way – Pasco RJDC, Felix Coriano – Pinellas RJDC, Ofiela Dennis  - Hillsborough RJDC, Melissa Harris – Pasco RJDC, Jose Vazquez – Hillsborough RJDC, Christina Pauta – Pinellas RJDC

Third Row: Jose Velez – Pinellas RJDC, James Jean – Hillsborough RJDC, Leonardo Orta - Hillsborough RJDC, Costarica Jose – Hillsborough RJDC, Cassy Boettcher – Pinellas RJDC, Javier Calderon – Hillsborough RJDC

Fourth Row: Robert Webster – Hillsborough RJDC, Troy Schaffer – Hillsborough RJDC, Albert Cruz – Pinellas RJDC, Kevin Jones – Hillsborough RJDC, Kelvin Reyes – Hillsborough RJDC, Ryan Ames – Pinellas RJDC

JJSIP Update

Over the past two weeks in Circuits 14 and 4, DJJ staff members and community members participated in Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) Case Studies Review, which is the final step in completing the formal JJSIP rollout in a judicial circuit.  DJJ headquarters staff: Jeannie Becker-Powell (Probation), Meg Bates, and Vanessa Wicker (Residential) participated in this process to assist in facilitating discussion about the cases.

The purpose of the JJSIP Case Studies Review is to review several closed juvenile cases, to assess how the research and related information through the JJSIP could have been used to intervene, and to help a youth at a much earlier point in his life, keeping him out of the juvenile justice system.   The goal of this process is to help communities see, through the use of actual case studies, how to intersect a youth’s trajectory through multiple systems so that the youth is prevented from becoming a serious, violent or chronic delinquent.

After conducting this initial case review, local communities are strongly encouraged to continue the process of reviewing cases in their areas with all stakeholders.

On the morning of April 19, in Circuit 4, approximately 40 DJJ staff members and community stakeholders participated in the JJSIP Case Studies Review at the Circuit 4 DJJ Probation Office in Jacksonville.

Shown above: Northwest Regional Manager Gwen Stevenson and C14 CPO Wanda Jackson.

Case studies were presented by Clay County JPO Jennifer Bell, Duval County Senior JPO Rachel Hillegass, and Nassau County Senior JPO Ann McKinnon.  Participants included representatives from various community agencies; DJJ field staff; DCF contracted service providers, Twin Oaks, AMIkids, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and Bays Florida; community medical, behavioral and mental health agencies; and representatives from the 4th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as those from the Nassau County School System.

On April 15, in Circuit 14, approximately 35 DJJ staff members and community stakeholders participated in the JJSIP Case Studies Review at the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in Panama City.  

Case studies were presented by Senior JPOs Samantha Jones, Heather Nowell, Derrick Henderson, and Donna Smith.  Participants included representatives from various community agencies, DJJ field staff, staff from DCF, contracted service providers Twin Oaks and AMIkids, members of the Guardians Ad Litem, community medical, behavioral and mental health agencies, and representatives from the 14th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as those from the Bay County School System.

The initial stakeholder’s meeting for the Circuit 14 JJSIP rollout took place on Jan. 22, 2016.  

On the morning of April 19, in Circuit 4, approximately 40 DJJ staff members and community stakeholders participated in the JJSIP Case Studies Review at the Circuit 4 DJJ Probation Office in Jacksonville.  

Shown left (L to R): Front:  North West Regional Manager Gwen Steverson, Sr. JPO Heather Nowell, Sr. JPO Kevin McKenzie, JPO Supervisor Michelle McCaskill, CPO Wanda Jackson 

Back:  JPO Supervisor Fred Womack, Reform Specialist Bree Thaxton, Sr. JPO Samantha Jones, Sr. JPO Donna Smith, DIO Robin Myers, JPO Supervisor Charlene Miller, ACPO Marcia Reightnour. 

Case studies were presented by Clay County JPO Jennifer Bell, Duval County Senior JPO Rachel Hillegass, and Nassau County Senior JPO Ann McKinnon.  Participants included representatives from various community agencies; DJJ field staff; DCF contracted service providers, Twin  Oaks, AMIkids, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and Bays Florida; 

community medical, behavioral and mental health agencies; and representatives from the 4th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as those from the Nassau County School System.

In the afternoon, approximately 15 JPO supervisors attended a probation caseload workshop.  The conversation was facilitated by Marion Kelly, who is managing partner of the Comprehensive Strategy Group and serves as consultant for JJSIP at Georgetown University.  The group identified key areas of concern relating to caseloads and discussed potential solutions for dealing with those concerns.  This workshop was specifically designed as a follow-up to the staff training that was held on Feb. 4, during the JJSIP rollout.

To read more about JJSIP, click on the link through the Department’s website.

Shown left: C4 CPO Donna Webb and Marion Kelly.

Shown right (L to R): Jennifer Bell, Rachel  Hillegass, Donna Webb, and Ann McKinnon.  

Prevention Update

On April 14, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain was recognized at the first “Employee of the Quarter,” by the Office of Prevention and Victim Services. Craig was recognized for his “outstanding and exemplary performance, effective communication, teamwork and commitment to putting Florida’s Families First, and by serving Florida’s most precious resource, our youth.” Craig was the first recipient of the award that will recognize Prevention team members each quarter. Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann presented the award to Craig.

Prevention team members can be nominated for providing cost-saving or process improvement ideas, demonstrating exceptional work beyond regular performance expectations, working cooperatively with colleagues to accomplish a goal, demonstrating an elevated level of performance in a community activity or fostering high performance in others through effective communication, empowerment and motivation.

Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, congratulated Craig and also offered thanks to Delinquency Prevention Specialists Pat McGee, Marie Boswell and Lydia Breaux-Davis “for providing such a great PAT training.”  In addition, she commended each Prevention team member for their outstanding service to the youth and families of Florida.

DJJ Faith Network Leader, Minister George Ellis, facilitated a call-to-action on March 30 in Miami in response to a recent increase of gun violence in South Florida. Minister Ellis gathered a meeting with faith leaders and community partners at the Edison Corp’s Salvation Army to offer solutions. Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Prevention & Victim Services, challenged community leaders to elevate their services by establishing mentoring programs for youth.  Circuit 11 CAB Chair Marie Osborne also discussed the role of the circuit advisory board (CAB) and how important it is for the CAB to be engaged in the solutions to address the rise of gun violence.  Deputy Manager Marcus Smith, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell also attended.

In the above photo (from  left to right): Minister George Ellis, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell, Circuit 11 CAB Chair Marie Osborne, Deputy Manager Marcus Smith, and Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain.

Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Prevention and Victim Services, and Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended the 2016 Southside Community Health and Fitness Fair on April 3 at the North Florida Fairgrounds in Tallahassee. The fair’s mission was to provide youth and family-focused services through presentations from local churches, health, fitness and community service organizations. Verla set up a DJJ display and answered questions regarding prevention and other DJJ services. Assistant Secretary Sims and members of her fitness boot camp demonstrated a workout routine for attendees. Two DJJ employees, Chantel Dishman of Probation and Community Intervention and Gloria Gatlin of Prevention and Victim Services, participated in the workout demonstration.

In the above photo (from left to right):  Verla Lawson-Grady, Prevention and Victim Services, Gloria Gatlin, Prevention and Victim Services, Prevention and Victim Services Assistant Secretary Alice Sims and Chantel Dishman of Probation and Community Intervention.

Probation Update

JDAI Coordinator Vicki Burke from Circuit 4 was instrumental in providing two of her probationary youth from Daniel’s Transitional Housing in Jacksonville with two donated bicycles. The donation was made by Open Road Bikes and these bikes will assist these students in getting to and from their jobs. Daniel’s has agreed to purchase locks and lights for the bikes to provide safety to the riders and to protect the bikes. Both youth were very grateful to both Open Road and DJJ for their very kind donation. 

ACPO Joyce Clay, JPOS Karin Popkowski, SJPO Rose Mells and Commitment Manager Traci Pullman from Circuit 6 met with the Gulfport Police Department on April 18 to provide an overview of the Department of Juvenile Justice. During the meeting, information was provided on the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument, home detention checks, criteria for commitment and the commitment process, based on the Dispositional Matrix. Additionally, the court process and the Department’s role in making recommendations and monitoring court sanctions was reviewed.  The meeting was videotaped for future showing to the Gulfport police officers as an educational tool on Department of Juvenile Justice.

On April 5, Circuit 8 CPO Diane Pearson and Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman attended the kickoff celebration for the Mentor 2 Mentor program at the MYcroSchool of Gainesville. The program was founded by Prayers by Faith Ministries and member of the DJJ Faith Network Pastor Gerard Duncan. About 40 students signed up to take part in the mentoring program which will hold group mentoring sessions and participate in activities such as college tours, life skills, field trips, financial literacy, and athletic events.  Pastor Duncan will also work closely with the JPOs in Circuit 8 to assist our youth in being more compliant with their probation sanctions.

I am pleased to share the following letter that was sent from Director of Case Management Laura Jones at the Okeechobee Youth Treatment Center in regards to JPO Paul Barber in Circuit 9. It reads:

Good Morning,

I wanted to take a moment to express to you all how wonderful the site visit from JPO Paul Barber was yesterday. All of my RCMs and I have enjoyed working with Mr. Barber as he is always helpful, supportive and on top of his game. Having the opportunity to meet him in person was something that we were all looking forward to. 

More importantly, his visit has had a positive impact on the youth on his caseload. They were appreciative that he took the time to come and see them and answer their questions. He was able to see firsthand the unique set up of our program and now understands some of the challenges both the youth and staff face. 

I know that I speak for my staff and my kids when I say that I hope that this is something we can do again sometime.  

Laura Jones
Director of Case Management
Okeechobee Youth Treatment Center/SA

CPO Alison Fulford, ACPO Amy Stiles and JPOS Andrea Conner from Circuit 10 represented DJJ during a recent Hardee County Commissioner’s meeting as they proclaimed April to be Child Abuse Prevention Month in Hardee County. In addition, the Florida Trucking Association selected Hardee County as a site to bring their trailer which was adorned with the statement of “You can make a difference. All children deserve #GreatChildhoods because children are our future.”  Hardee County was one of only 9 sites in the state and the celebration included live performances, speakers, pinwheel display, photo booth and lunch was provided. 

During a recent EPICS session,  Circuit 12 JPOS Terry Evans discovered that one of her probationary youth was missing school because she did not have necessary transportation. Her home is deemed too close to demand a bus ride but is still considered a lengthy walk of about 45 minutes. The youth lives with her aunt who is handicapped and cannot drive due to her disabilities. The youth expressed that one of the ways to assist her in getting to school on time would be to have a bicycle. JPOS Evans worked with the Edgewater United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte who donated a bike for this young woman, and her reaction was one of shock and gratitude.

SJPO Rosa Flores-Adcock and Reform Specialist Maria Gilhooley from Circuit 11 were accompanied by Faith Network Liaison Nancy Romero and Eckerd Project Bridge Career Service Coordinator Yolanda Jester to the “We are God’s Masterpiece,” banquet which was hosted by Youth for Christ (YFC). The event featured inspirational and emotional testimonials of teenagers and adults, who as teenagers were touched by the word of God through YFC outreach and programming. 

YFC has provided services to DJJ-involved youth for a number of years by providing groups at Miami Dade Detention Center and Dade Juvenile Residential Facility. Our current partnership with Bonnie Rodriguez, Executive Director for Miami Youth for Christ and Elizabeth Vimonsut, Mentor Program Coordinator for YFC is to connect faith-based mentors to youth in residential facilities and youth released from residential programs. This initiative will provide a positive adult role model in the youth's life and be an added strength when confronted by possible negative influences in their community and home.  

Left to right:  Rosa Flores-Adcock, SJP, Nancy Romero, JPOS-Faith Liaison, Maria Gilhooley, Reform Specialist and Yolanda Jester, Eckerd Project Bridge  Career Coordinator

Circuit 17 JPOS Regina Gonzalez and Reform Specialist Tina Robinson participated in the 8th Annual Broward AWARE! Family Fun and Resource Fair in Fort Lauderdale on April 16. Broward AWARE! Protecting OUR Children is an awareness campaign to ensure that children safely realize their full potential, hopes and dreams. The day’s activities included the Pinwheels for Prevention Truck Tour,  the ever popular BSO “Paint-a-Fire Truck”, an interactive “Teen Zone”, bagful’s of fresh fruits and produce from the Feeding South Florida, face painting, dozens of resource tables including Water Smart Broward swim lessons coupons and a series of mini-workshops on keeping children safe.

Circuit 20 JPO Sandra Burgado attended a graduation ceremony for a youth in her care that recently completed the GED/High School Equivalency exam as part of her successful completion of post-commitment probation and Bridges Aftercare. This remarkable young lady took advantage of the opportunities for training in the community through Bridges Aftercare and has made great strides toward a positive future.  At the time of graduation, she had a part time job and had been accepted into the nursing program and Florida Southwestern University.  She has proven to herself and her family that she can achieve her goals and she has our heartiest congratulations.

This letter of gratitude was sent by a parent of a probationary youth to JPOS Tia Williams in Circuit 20. JPOS Williams worked with the mother and youth from the completion of the intake until she was successfully terminated from supervision. It reads: 

Hello Ms. Tia,  

She is doing much better now…She is doing REALLY well with her job, is very much respected by the management and staff.  Since she’s been working there she has not missed a day of work, or shown up late, is always available when they call her in. She will sometimes work more than 40 hours a week.  Her boss told me that she is doing really well, that he is very impressed with her. She is being trained for management. I have gone in with her in the mornings to hang out, and watching her work brings tears to my eyes.  I was so worried back when we first met you that I was going to lose my daughter to the streets.  Now, we ride to work together in the mornings, and get coffee, and communicate and sometimes have lunch together time permitting.

I guess she had to get through that tough period of life and grow up a bit. She still has that wild, rebellious streak, but instead of fighting it, I just back off. I get Hugs and I Love You's from her now..... At first it was kind of weird, but I am liking it now!  

Life is good again. 

I am a survivor! 

Thank you for all your support, your hard work, and your Tough Love... in this case, it paid off well! 

Warm hugs to you! 

JPOSs Tia Williams, Sandra Burgado and Toni Lesher and JPOs Byron Brown, Annette Ashcraft, Betsy Santiago and Maria Mendoza recently worked the Midnight Madness event at the Lee County Fairgrounds. The County holds Midnight Madness two weekends a month where they open the fairgrounds until 3 a.m. and for a flat fee anyone came come and participate in the rides and events. DJJ probation staff works closely with Lee County Sheriff’s deputies and the Fort Myers Police Department during this event in monitoring the curfews for juveniles at the Lee County Fair. Most of the probationers know DJJ staff will be present and it has kept violations and incidents to a minimum.

The following e-mail was sent from Estero High School Assistant Principal Kim Baxa to JPOS Toni Lesher in Circuit 20 in regards to JPO Maria Mendoza. It reads:

To Whom It May Concern:

I want to express my sincere appreciation to Maria. The continued support, open communication and willingness to work with the staff at Estero High School is appreciated. Maria attended a meeting regarding her Estero High School case load today. She was readily prepared with attendance, discipline and graders for each student. She was detail oriented as we discussed each student and was willing to meet with administration and the student regarding discipline concerns… On behalf of the administrative team at Estero High School, we greatly appreciate the open lines of communication and support we receive from Maria.

Thank you,

Kim Baxa 

Residential Update

A few weekends ago, Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program /Hastings Substance Abuse Program, both non-secure programs for boys, ages 13 to 19, which are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, hosted a basketball tournament.  Two other G4S Youth Services, LLC, non-secure programs for boys, participated including Jacksonville Youth Academy and Orange Youth Academy/Orange Youth Academy Substance Abuse.  In addition, Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., participated in the tournament.  All teams showed great effort and exemplified superb sportsmanship qualities.  Jacksonville Youth Academy was crowned the championship winner!  

The residents at Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc., recently welcomed Dr. Desmond Blackburn (pictured right) as a guest speaker.  The Brevard County School Superintendent toured the program, spoke with the youth, and engaged them in a question and answer session relating to education and their classes. 

In addition, Melbourne Center for Personal Growth welcomed Howard “Howie D” Dorough (pictured left) from the Backstreet Boys to attend their graduation ceremony.  He spoke to the residents about his fascinating life story.  Also in attendance was co-founder of the Balda Family Foundation Rick Balda.  The mission of the Balda Family Foundation is to motivate, inspire, and educate academically promising, at-risk and underserved youth in Brevard County through educational opportunities and college scholarships.

Lastly, Melbourne Center for Personal Growth received a donated Boflex Ultimate 2 Home Gym®.  AMIkids Space Coast Ronald Weedon donated the machine so that the residences who are working towards their Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification, as well as the upperclassmen, can use it during recreational time.  

Recently, Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged (RAM-C), a non-secure program for boys, ages 9 to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., welcomed Blazin’ 102.3, Tallahassee’s number one hip hop and R&B station, to the program.  DJ Ezone and DJ Dap shared their stories about how they got involved in the music industry and provided some advice.  The DJs took the time to share the ins and outs of the industry and even brought their own ‘party van’ so that the youth could listen to some of their favorite artists on the massive sound system in the van. 

As part of the Jobs for Florida Graduates Program, this elective course is taken by all youth at the program and is a school-to-career program designed to help young people graduate and build confidence to gain employment or continue with their postsecondary education. Several of the students are interested in pursuing careers in music and the two DJs helped inspire many youth to attain their goals.  Special thanks go to RAM-C Teacher Nicole Miller for making the arrangements to have representatives from the station and also to Boys and Girls Supervisor Natisha Miller and Transportation Director Delmon Harris for ensuring the event ran smoothly.  

Youth G.M. personally wrote a letter to DJ Ezone and thanked him for coming to speak:

DJ Ezone, I’m writing to tell you that I am really thanking God for you coming here at the RAMC Program! Because all the time I have been trying to find someone to help me with my music to bring me out, but could not reach out and find someone to help me. Because I really don’t want to be in the streets anymore or even out there dead somewhere! My dream is to become a famous singer, dancer, and go places and do things with my life. So you helped me wake up and realize what I had to do.  I have been writing my songs and they are really dope so I really hope to see you back soon! You have made my dreams come true!

Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., recently took a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.  The education staff used this outing as an opportunity for the youth as a learning experience to teach various educational and social skills.  

Register Now for R-PACT, R-PACT Booster/Refresher, and Impact of Crime Classes in the North Region! 

Opportunities for Residential Positive Achievement Change Tool (R-PACT), R-PACT Booster/Refresher training, and Impact of Crime classes for the North Region are coming up soon. Please register now!

All R-PACT users should plan to attend a Booster/Refresher training.  This includes, but is not limited to, case managers, clinical directors, clinical therapists, transition specialists, directors of case management, as well as any other staff members who have R-PACT permissions in JJIS.  The dates are as follows:

R-PACT Booster/Refresher:

1. Choose either April 28, 2016 or April 29, 2016:

Tallahassee Alexander Building- Staff Development Conference Room

1318 Training Center Suite

Tallahassee, FL 32399

2. Choose either May 4, 2016 or May 5, 2016:

Juvenile Probation Unit Office- Office of Research and Data Integrity

14107 US Highway 441, Suite 200

Alachua, Florida  32615

3. Choose either May 11, 2016 or May 12, 2016:

Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center

4448 Straightline Road

Crestview, FL 32359

R-PACT Training:

1. April 27-29, 2016:

Juvenile Probation Unit Office- Research and Data Integrity

14107 US Highway 441, Suite 200

Alachua, Florida  32615

2. May 17-19, 2016:

Chipola College Room M203

3096 Workforce Way

Marianna, FL 32446

Impact of Crime Training:

1. May 3-6, 2016:

Alachua Academy

3430 NE 39th Avenue

Gainesville, FL 32609

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Vanessa Wicker Reeves (850) 717-2536 or Garrett Tucker (850) 251-2036).  Please register using SkillPro website.

Detention Update     

The Department of Juvenile Justice has partnered with the Department of Education and VSA Florida to provide a resident artist for the youth at the Bay RJDC. The artist is onsite two hours per week for the next five weeks. The youth in the facility voted to add to a previous art project initiated in the facility soft room and are currently working to make additions to the beach scene initially created in early 2015.  As you can see the youth do the actual work with guidance and direction from our on-site resident.  It is powerful to see the youth be so invested in their environment but also watch the youth step forward and make the choice to actively participate.  Many of our youth make choices to step back into the shadows or blend in, so their willingness to challenge themselves and be brave enough to try something new and different proves inspirational for us all.         

Youth from the Bay RJDC received some extra motivation last week as they prepared for the standardized FSA testing. Bay District School Board Liaison Anne Martin told the youth that if they participated and worked hard through the testing that they would be rewarded with a pizza party on Thursday afternoon. We are sure that the thought of pizza and soft drinks was at least partially responsible for the motivation that helped the youth focus and push through the rigorous standardized testing process, and as you can see from the smiles, they enjoyed their well-earned reward.

Research and Data Integrity Update

Research Analyst Katherine Gomez from the Office of Research and Data Integrity attended the Florida Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers Conference on April 16 in Orlando. Katherine co-presented a session titled “Internet Safety Plans for Adults and Juveniles: Formulation and Report Writing” with Dr. George Deitchman, a clinician from Circuit 4. Katherine’s presentation component included providing an outline of the criminal justice system in Florida and providing insight on the corrections audience to ensure that clinicians’ reports have maximum clarity and impact. The audience included federal probation officers as well as statewide adult and juvenile sex offense treatment clinicians, including many DJJ-contracted providers. FATSA is the Florida State Chapter of ATSA, an international multi-disciplinary professional association dedicated to the research and treatment of sexual offenders.  FATSA members offer evaluations and treatment of sexual offenders, sexually violent predators, family members and victims. Members work closely with state organizations such as the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Families, the State Attorney's Offices, the Public Defender's Offices, and the Florida Legislature in an effort to protect Florida's citizens from sexual assault.