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Secretary's Message

June 20, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Our Orlando community continues to grieve and start the process of picking up the pieces to move forward with a new and different reality changed suddenly by a tragic and terrible set of circumstances. As we move forward, we all know that healing does not happen overnight so I am again including information that may be helpful for our children, families and communities. 

There are many resources available, provided by the state, its partners and private organizations all coming together to ensure people that need assistance get it. If you or someone you know is struggling and needs assistance, please reach out for support. Please feel free to pass this information along to providers, stakeholders, parents and others whom you feel may be benefit from this important information.

Aspire Health Partners, a local provider in Orlando contracted through the regional behavioral health managing entity contracted by DCF, Central Florida Cares Health System, continues to provide free crisis counseling to anyone in need. Services will be made available in the community as long as needed. Aspire’s counselors are available for crisis and grief counseling from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Aspire’s Princeton Plaza at 1800 Mercy Drive in Orlando. For more information, visit www.aspirehealthpartners.com.

For parents or caregivers of youth and children, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides tips and guides on helping youth after catastrophic mass violence. You can find that information at http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism. 

For our DJJ and other state employees who feel they need support in response to this tragedy, The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The EAP provides confidential help from trained counselors and can connect you with helpful resources. You can call the EAP at 1-800-860-2058 (TDD 1-888-833-2017) or visit their website at www.myflorida.com/myeap.   

I am inspired by the outpouring of love and support the Orlando community and Floridians have received from others all over the world. Our resolve to move forward and support those touched so deeply by this tragedy will once again prove that love prevails.


Christina K. Daly

2016 Prudential Productivity Awards

Last week, the winners of the 2016 Prudential Productivity Awards were announced during a ceremony at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee. Two groups consisting of eight employees were recognized for their efforts in creating innovative ways to become more productive in the work place, while saving the state and taxpayers’ money. Each of these groups received a certificate of commendation for their efforts. In addition, one former employee was honored with a plaque and certificate. The winners are listed below: 

  • Shared Services Informational Management Team: Amy Johnson, Bob Roller, Beth Davis, Christopher Goodman, and Jennifer Bailey meticulously designed, planned, and implemented a shared services business model for the agency’s procurement, contract management, and program monitoring functions. The Office of Program Accountability took over responsibilities from the four program offices (Prevention, Detention, Residential, and Probation) and now handles all contract management and planned monitoring for its contracted and state-operated programs, ensuring children are well cared for and the services match or exceed expectations. Now, the Department realizes productivity gains by tearing down silos, had an increase of the workforce specialization, has fewer handovers between employees, and has improved knowledge sharing across program areas. This process saved the state of Florida over $250,000. 
  • The Motivational Interviewing Team: Amy Greenwald, Josie Ashton and Cina Wilson recently expanded into providing motivational interviewing (MI) for both prevention and residential program areas.  MI is a research-proven method of speaking with youth that we teach our staff so that defensiveness is reduced, and we are better able to help the youth work towards positive behavior change. The MI team began training contracted providers as trainers; this process resulted in eight new trainers which can now provide training year round while saving the state over $213,000 a year.  
  • Former DJJ Dietitian Erica Ceska was awarded a 2016 Prudential Productivity Award Plaque for ensuring that bag lunches complied with USDA standards. While each breakfast and lunch is provided to over 1,000 youth in detention centers across the state are subsidized by the USDA and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, as it turns out, bag lunches which were provided to our youth as they were transported to court and medical appointments were not. After ensuring that our bag lunches met USDA standards they were able to be claimed for federal subsidy. DJJ transports an estimated 136 youth each weekday which saves the state $141,687 per year. 

Able Trust Ability Awards Luncheon

On Friday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Director of Education Julie Orange attended the 2016 Able Trust Ability Awards Luncheon at the Golden Eagle Country Club in Tallahassee. The Able Trust's annual Ability Awards recognize individuals, non-profit agencies, employers, and other organizations that have made outstanding contributions towards providing employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. Awards were given out in five categories including: outstanding employment placement program, leadership, media representative, employer of the year and adult leadership award.

Since its establishment, The Able Trust has worked with community organizations throughout the state to help thousands of Floridians with disabilities enter the workforce. The Able Trust youth programs provide career development and transition to many students with disabilities annually, helping to reduce the dropout rate and prepare young adults for life beyond high school. 

DJJ Employee Helped by Pet Therapy Dog

Our DJJ programs have seen the proven benefit of pet therapy practices and how it can help our youth work through their trauma in a constructive way. Pet therapy has also been utilized in our armed services for wounded veterans. It is with that in mind that I share the story of Jack Capra, a retired Captain with the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocacy General’s Corps (JAGC) who now works with DJJ as an Assistant General Counsel in Jacksonville. 

A Florida native, Jack graduated from Florida State University in 1989 and was a direct appointment to the U.S. Navy’s JAGC in 1990. Capra left active duty in 1997 and served with the Navy Reserves for four years before returning to active duty in the wake of the September 11th attacks. In March of 2004, Capra was wounded in Basra, Iraq by enemy insurgents who detonated a radio controlled improvised explosive device under his military convoy. Capra was awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Navy’s Combat Action Ribbon after his injuries. The attack left Capra with traumatic brain injury and damage to his left eye where he lost some peripheral vision.

In 2011, Capra was placed with “Rocco,” a fully certified service dog who was trained with the K9’s for Warriors in St. John’s County. Rocco helps Jack with spacial control and notifies him when people approach from his left side. I was in awe when I learned of Jack’s bravery and accomplishments and was touched to hear about Rocco and how helpful he has been to Jack with his injuries and the trauma associated with combat. Their story was a wonderful reminder of just how important dogs are in healing trauma victims. I would like to thank Jack for his unwavering service to our country and of course thank Rocco for his unwavering service to Jack!

Detention Update

The girls from the Hillsborough RJDC have been enjoying an evening yoga class which goes a long way in helping with their physical and mental health. During the class they use fun learning techniques that can help them once they leave our facility. 

The garden at the Bay RJDC was created over nine years ago and is still one of the favorite programming activities for both youth and staff. The garden is coordinated and maintained by Bay District Schools Liaison Anne Martin and assisted by Vickie Brown from Bay District Schools. Recently, the garden program donated a bounty of peppers and eggplants to the local Family Services program. The staff at Family Services said that many of their clients are elderly and live on fixed incomes so they thoroughly enjoyed the fresh vegetables that were provided to them. The youth at Bay work in the garden at least once per week and complete all the steps in the cycle of garden maintenance. 

Prevention Update

For the second straight year, PACE girls in Alachua County held their “Believe Ball,” on April 22 at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.  Since PACE prides itself on “Believing in Girls,” staff decided to continue this successful event as a means to address both recruitment and retention. Dresses, hair, make-up – everything was provided for the girls. A week before the event, students voted on superlatives based on their 9 Guiding Principles as well as PACE Queen 2016. The guiding principles are: Honor the Female Spirit, Focus on Strengths, Act with Integrity and Positive Intent, Embrace Growth and Change, Value the Wisdom of Time, Exhibit Courage, Seek Excellence, Create Partnerships and Invest in the Future.

With Miss Florida, Kristen Robinson, serving as the host, and Miss North Central Florida, Kierra Brown sponsoring and crowning the PACE Queen 2016, Daunyelle, the girls were able to escape the stressors of their day-to-day lives and made to feel like the beautiful princesses that they are. Food was catered by Mi Apa and Napolatono’s restaurants. Music was provided by DJ E-Lo. Without the support from DJJ, this evening of glitter and glam would not have been possible, so for that – and so much more – PACE girls say “thank you!”  

Staff members from Miami Bridge, a DJJ Prevention provider, attended the Florida East Coast Baptist Association’s Human Trafficking Forum on May 19 at the New Generation Baptist Church in Opa Locka. Staff reported they appreciated the opportunity to learn about ongoing human trafficking efforts. They were also grateful to the members of the community, including the federal, state and local government officials who, like Miami Bridge, do what they can to combat the human trafficking problems in Florida communities.

The Prodigy Cultural Arts program recently thanked our agency in the June edition of their newsletter. Staff and students bid “a special farewell” to DJJ. The piece read:

“For well over a decade, DJJ has helped sustain the success of Prodigy by providing invaluable funding. Their support has allowed Prodigy to reach students in more broader and innovative ways than ever before.

“Although the program will transition to a new contract with the Florida Department of Education in July, Prodigy staffers and supporters will always recall ‘the good ole days of DJJ.’”

The Prodigy Cultural Arts Program uses an innovative approach to educate and enable at-risk youth, providing a doorway to a better world. Youth ages 7-17 experience performing and visual arts, taught as a tool for self-expression, to learn communication, exploration, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills.

Established in 2000, Prodigy has thrived and is achieving its mission of transforming lives. The program covers 7 counties, with 13 partner sites and 42 programming locations. In 2014, more than 3,400 youth experienced the benefits of Prodigy.

Probation Update

Circuit 16 probation staff partnered with the local Bethel AME Church last week for the second meeting of the Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP). The meeting was led by Reverend Antonio Magwood from Bethel and was held at the Nelson English Park in Key West. In addition to the probation staff, church members and Key West police officers were on hand, the meeting was headlined by Key West Mayor Craig Cates who was in attendance. Local youth played games and were able to interact with community partners on a personal level. Bethel AME Church provided a delicious barbeque for all attendees.

School may be out for the summer, but the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) as well as the Chapman Early Education Center in Panama City are staying open throughout the summer months to ensure that their kids receive the best education possible. The education coordinator Jaime Dahlin at PCMI came up with an idea for her students to spend some time this summer giving back to their local community. PCMI teamed up with the local Kiwanis club to adopt their “Read Around the World,” program. The students from PCMI came over to the Chapman Center to read to and give the kids their own books. The program will continue all summer long and the PCMI students are very excited to return and are already picking out the next set of books to give away.

JPOS Harold Garves, SJPO Kim Myers and JPO Sue Ball from Circuit 6 accompanied three probationary youth to the ‘Love One Another’ weekly luncheon in Pasco County on June 5. Love One Another gives those less fortunate a hot meal as well as toiletries and pre-packaged food items. The youth and staff served over 35 people while enjoying their time of service and company. Each of the youth earned valuable community service hours for their efforts.

Circuit 6 probation staff held a graduation ceremony on June 2 for those citizens who participated in the Juvenile Justice Citizens Academy. This ten week class was presented to those citizens who were interested in learning about the juvenile justice system. Each session covered a different topic and included a facility tour. Topics included: an overview of the law, prevention, juvenile assessment center, court, juvenile detention center, residential commitment and the juvenile welfare board. Twenty-two Pinellas County residents graduated from the class and said they gained an extensive knowledge of services and resources that they did not know existed. My thanks to JDAI Coordinator Gina Gibbs who organized the classes.

Probation staff from Circuit 17 participated in the Ninth Unified Family Court Summit on June 10 at the Central Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. The summit revolved around trauma and mental health and their impact on the court system as it regards to juveniles. It was co-sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida.

Residential Update

Recently, the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) held its annual scholarship banquet at University Club in Jacksonville.  The NNOA is a professional, national organization comprised of active duty, reserve, and retired officers and civilians who actively support the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

All three of the graduating residents from Duval Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, attended the NNOA scholarship banquet.  Special congratulations go to Youth D.S. for receiving a $500 scholarship to assist with expenses when he attends St. Johns River State College

Additionally, a ceremony was held for the three students who graduated with their high school diplomas.  Those in attendance included their parents, staff, Duval County Public School representatives, members of the Duval Academy Advisory Board, and DJJ officials.  The program welcomed State Senator Audrey Gibson and Former State Senator Tony Hill. Retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer and community activist Ken Jefferson was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.  He encouraged the boys to embrace their futures and strive to become productive, active citizens in their communities.

Shown above (left to right): Back row—Facility Administrator Al Chester, Former Senator Tony Hill, youth D.S., youth A.G., Youth E.C., Ken Jefferson, and Principal Ed Robinson.  Front row—Senator Audrey Gibson and Executive Director of Alternative Education with the Duval County School Board Dr. Pam Davis

The Northeast Region held its Residential Services Quarterly Meeting recently at Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center.  Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Center and Gulf Academy, both non-secure programs for boys, which are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, received 100% satisfactory ratings on their 2016 Quality Improvement reviews. 

Shown right (left to right): Facility Administrator Andy Eldridge of Hastings and Gulf receives a certificate from Northeast Regional Director Billy Starke

I want to highlight the success story of one youth who, between 2014 and 2015, attended Orange Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  He previously attended a DJJ State Advisory Group Meeting earlier this year, where he met with Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Guardian Ad Litem Statewide Director Alan Abramowitz.  After meeting with them, Youth G.B. was asked to speak before the Florida Legislature to voice his support of the Guardian Ad Litem program.

He recently was hired at Wal-Mart® in St. Petersburg, working 40 hours a week.  Once he starts college in the fall at St. Petersburg College, he will continue working there part-time.  Additionally, he had been studying extremely hard for his driver’s license test that he recently took. 

Five residents of Escambia Boys Base, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc., recently completed the Hospitality and Housekeeping Certification Program.  The program consists of two parts.  The first half is an eight-hour classroom course taught by an instructor from the University of West Florida Division of Continuing Education.  The second part is a two- to three-hour hands-on training completed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida.  The residents learned about and were trained in the following: housekeeping, customer care, proper cleaning of guest rooms, and occupational safety.  The students will be able to use these certificates in obtaining employment once they transition out of the residential commitment program.

Last week, the students at Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, a high-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted Volusia County School Board Teacher Debbie Hyde with picking vegetables from the garden and preparing a meal for the community with the freshly picked items.  They prepared vegetable pasta, zucchini cakes, and a green bean casserole.