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Secretary's Message

May 30, 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

Florida Network of Youth and Family Services Annual Meeting

Last week, I attended the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services Annual Meeting in Orlando where it was my honor to give remarks to the attendees as well as host a Q&A session. The annual meeting is a three-day conference where all member agencies, executives partners, and board members are invited to network with colleagues, celebrate accomplishments, and learn from one another to continue their work in improving the lives of children and families in need across Florida.

The conference was headlined by keynote speaker D.J. Vanas, a motivational storyteller, author and leadership expert. D.J. shows organizations how to practically apply the power of the warrior spirit to perform at their best, stay resilient and thrive in tough, changing environments.

I also had the privilege of handing out awards during the annual awards luncheon. Youth leaders and service agencies throughout Florida were recognized for their advocacy in helping at-risk youth and their families seek guidance and reassurance while also preparing them for a new and healthy lifestyle.

Awards winners included: Carlos Childs (Family Resources – St. Petersburg), Youth Care Worker of the Year; Jason Kasten (Arnette House – Ocala), Youth Care Worker of the Year; Stepheny Durham (Youth Crisis Center – Jacksonville), Manager of the Year; Abraham Greene (Urban League of Palm Beach County – West Palm Beach), Counselor of the Year; Amber Minton (Orange County Youth and Family Services – Orlando), Counselor of the Year; David Ulloa (Arnette House – Ocala), Networker of the Year; Andrew Coble (Youth and Family Alternatives – New Port Richey), Network Executive of the Year; “Family Place” Capital City Youth Services (Tallahassee), Program of the Year; Nehemiah Educational and Economic Development, Inc. (Orlando), Agency of the Year; Youth Crisis Center (Jacksonville), Agency of the Year.  

Governor Scott Recognizes DJJ Employees

Five staff members from DJJ Headquarters were recognized by Governor Rick Scott on May 19 for their years of service to the state of Florida. The following employees were honored for having 15 years and above with the state:

Paul Hatcher                30 years

Marcus E. Smith          15 years

Agnes Denson             30 years

Lucy Swain                    25 years

Rachel R. Pate             15 years

Debbie Touchton       15 years

Congratulations on your recognition and thank you for your dedicated years of service to the state of Florida and our agency!

Prevention Update

Over the last three months, Office of Prevention team members addressed Police Explorer Groups from Seminole County in order to expose teenagers to information about careers in juvenile justice and other areas of law enforcement. Marie Boswell, delinquency prevention specialist; and Marcus Smith, deputy manager, spoke with youth at tribes in Brighton, Big Cypress, Hollywood, Immokalee and Naples. In March, Eugene Morris, special projects administrator, addressed youth at the Tampa reservation. In April, Eugene addressed youth at the Okeechobee reservation.

Police Explorers is a program to bridge the gap between youth and police by involving them in police operations. The program is open to youth between the ages of 6 to 17 years old. Their participation includes projects such as security work at community events, directing traffic at events, and helping with crime prevention programs.   

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson attended a violent crime and intervention meeting on May 13 at Valencia College in Orlando. Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings and Orlando Police Chief John Mina hosted the meeting where community stakeholders gathered to discuss trends and proactive strategies for reducing the level of violence in the Orange County community.

City commissioners, officers of Orange County Sherriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department, and several different agencies came together to share their concerns. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department shared their crime data and programs that have been used in other urban areas, which were successful in reducing violent crime. Community stakeholders shared their concerns of what was going on in their community and gave their opinions on how to address these concerns going forward with reducing the level of violence.

City of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill (District 5) (left) and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell, JPOSs Gentle Hamilton and Sheila Miller, Reform Specialist Maria Gilhooley and JPO Roxie Gaines attended, “The Unity Gathering,” on May 15 at the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. The pastors of approximately 30 churches in the South Dade area of Miami-Dade County united to address the need for church leadership to stop the violence.  Pastor Reed advised that we have tried everything else, now let’s try God.

The message, “Let Us Get It Together,” was inspiring and resulted in the collection of funds to award scholarships to youth enrolled in college referred by the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department.

The PACE Center for Girls of Pinellas County, a DJJ prevention provider, held their 2016graduation ceremony on May 18 at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center. Twelve young ladies participated in graduation. Everyone heard about the strength and resilience of the girls, and that where each of the girls has been is not nearly as important as where each of them is going and the positive future that lies ahead for them. One graduate shared her very touching and inspirational story, concluding her speech with words of encouragement to her peers and to the audience by saying “Exhale the past and inhale the future.” 

Residential Update

Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., recently honored three students who graduated with their high school diplomas.  Volunteers from Evangel Temple Assembly of God held the graduation banquet for the students and their families to celebrate all of their accomplishments. 

Palm Beach Youth Academy Facility Administrator Manny Alvarez recently attended a Make a Wish® fundraiser on behalf of Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC.  The event was extremely successfully, and they raised over $15,000 to help grant the wishes of three children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.  Manny Alvarez had the opportunity to interact and engage with active members of the South Florida philanthropic community.  Also in attendance were Miami Heat player Anthony Mason, Jr., CEO of Flanigan’s Enterprises, Inc. James Flanigan, Director of the Miami Marlin’s Foundation Alan Alvarez, and Vice President and Executive Director of the Marlin’s Foundation Alfie Mesa.

Detention Update

Recently, the Brevard RJDC honored staff RN Diane Finley as she will retire from the facility at the end of the month. Diane has been with the medical department at the Brevard detention center for the last twelve years with a total of 32 years in the profession. The staff at Brevard are going to miss Diane and I would like to thank her for her years of service to Brevard and wish her well in her future endeavors! 

Brenda Singletary, Brooke Weiss, John Jordan,  Diane Finley, Stephanie Peskowitz

On May 12, the Marion Regional Juvenile Detention Center honored Lieutenant Larry Smith as he retired from the agency on May 31. Larry served the Department of Juvenile Justice for the last 35 years at the Marion detention center. On behalf of our agency, I would like to thank him for his many years of service and wish him well in retirement! 

Probation Update   

This month, Eckerd’s Project Bridge Program would like to feature Jean Carlo Barillas.  Jean was able to reveal his potential and break the vicious cycle of delinquency.  Things were foggy and uncertain in Jean’s eyes when he initially began working with Career Service Counselor (CSC) Ramirez of Eckerd Workforce Development.  Jean did not have a clear idea of what he could do in life.   

Through vocational training,  Jean was able to earn certifications and then employment. Jean was persistent in his attendance to services and showed a great desire to become successful in life.  Jean had confidence and knowledge instilled in him by CSC Ramirez during service delivery. On March 15, 2016, Jean obtained employment at Wendy’s.   

Jean consistently demonstrated the strength, persistence and a great attitude on his path to success.  Jean’s efforts paid off and he is doing well in his community. Jean was also able to overcome his past addictions and has separated himself from negative influences and people.  Project Bridge and DJJ wishes Jean continued success and happiness in life! 

Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell attended the Fresh Start Innovative Mentorship fundraiser on May 19. The mentorship program has been working with adults on probation for the last seven years and is now eager to work with DJJ probationary youth. Adrienne worked with Chaplain Herb Schluderberg with the partnership as well as background screenings. During this fundraiser, Circuit 6 Unified Family Court Judge James Pierce was awarded the Beacon of Light Award for exemplifying extraordinary service to the community for “Turning to Our Youth.”  

On May 11th and 18th, Brevard Public Schools coordinated Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for Cocoa Police Department law enforcement officers.  Brevard Schools is one of 15 organizations in the nation to receive a NIJ research grant to implement and evaluate CIT programs for teachers and resource officers, and the resulting data will contribute to the nation’s science-based understanding of the most effective and efficient ways to increase school safety.  The CIT training was coordinated by Terri Keim and Paula Ferrell, Brevard Public Schools, and instructors included Dr. Lori Parsons, Family Counseling Center; Mia Williams and Melissa Henville, Brevard Public Schools; Michele Becerra-Williams, Cocoa Police Department; and Theda Roberts, DJJ.