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Secretary's Message

August 29, 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 a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all 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

Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services Shelter Tour 

Last Monday, I was pleased to join youth, DJJ staff, Miami Bridge Board members and other dignitaries for a site visit of the Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services Center. Attendees had the opportunity to meet former and current youth who benefit from the important services being provided to youth and families by Miami Bridge. Board President, Marlene Quintana, addressed the audience on the need to continue to put these youth first and to not forget the obligation we each have in guiding our youth to success. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado was in attendance as well and gave moving remarks on how the city and its partners have come together with heart and soul to ensure the youth of Miami are well served, taken care of and provided with opportunities for success.

Miami Bridge is funded through DJJ’s Office of Prevention and is the only 24-hour emergency shelter for abused, neglected, and abandoned youth ages 10-17 in Dade County. Miami Bridge works to rescue youth from lives of victimization and crime and provides them with structure in a stable and nurturing environment. Annually, Miami Bridge shelters more than 1,000 children and teens and provides counseling to more than 550 families. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell, myself, and Acting CPO for Circuit 11 Concheita Gillum

Florida Network of Youth and Family Services Board Meeting

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to  address the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services Board of Directors during their meeting in Boca Raton. I spoke to the board and others in attendance about our continued partnership with the Florida Network and how we can better serve the youth in our system. The Florida Network is a not-for-profit statewide association representing 29 agencies that serve homeless, runaway and troubled youth ages six and older and their families. 

The Florida Network has provided services as a “Children and Families in Need of Services” (CINS/FINS) agency, as defined by Florida Statute, in order to prevent juvenile delinquency and encourage good choices and healthy family relationships. Their services include: advocacy for youth, public policy development, public education, data collection and research, and training and technical assistance.

DJJ Teacher of the year Finalist Recognition Ceremony 

Also on Monday, I traveled to the Miami Youth Academy (MYA) to formally honor 2014-15 Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year finalist Daniel Wynne. Mr. Wynne is an English and Reading teacher at MYA where he utilizes novels in his reading and writing instruction to help the youth 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. He is dedicated to not only his students’ educational growth but in helping them realize they are capable of reaching their goals and bettering their future.

DJJ partnered with the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation to select the finalists for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award.  Mr. Wynne was chosen as one of three finalists out of many juvenile justice educators throughout the state of Florida.  Each finalist received a medal and monetary award. 

Detention Superintendents Leadership Training

On Wednesday and Thursday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler hosted a leadership training for detention facility superintendents in Orlando. This leadership training focused on a wide array of topics including succession planning, building maintenance and safety, confinement, workers compensation and the discipline process.  An awards ceremony was also held during the leadership training, with the award for Superintendent of the Year going to Pasco Juvenile Detention Center Superintendent Monica Gray and the award for Assistant Superintendent of the Year going to Ell Fance from the Miami Regional Juvenile Detention Center. 

Above left: Superintendent of the Year, Monica Gray.

Right: Miami RJDC Superintendent Steve Owns accepting the Assistant Superintendent of the Year Award on behalf of Assistant Superintendent Ell Fance.

Palm Beach Youth Academy Site Visit

On Wednesday, I met with Facility Administrator Manny Alvarez of the Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA) for a site visit and tour of the facility. The tour provided the opportunity to view the improvements that have been made at the program in recent months. I was pleased to see the great work that Mr. Alvarez and his team have made at the program and look forward to seeing their additional improvements in the future.

The PBYA is a high-risk residential treatment facility for males, ages 15 to 21, who are in need of mental health overlay services. The program offers assessment services, behavioral health services, case management, medical and psychiatric services, and educational and vocational services. 

I also want to thank the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) for their partnership and working to make the inspiring painting behind us in the photo a reality.  

Above: Youth, me, Facility Administrator Manny Alvarez.

On Wednesday afternoon, I visited with probation staff members from Circuit 15 at their offices in West Palm Beach. I was able to answer questions and had a great discussion with staff on their input and suggestions for the Department. I appreciate the staff’s candor and would like to thank them again for their hard work and dedication to our agency and for the important role they each play in helping to turn around the lives of the youth in our juvenile justice system.

It brought a smile to my face to see so many of our JPOs wearing DJJ’s new wristbands and I want to thank them for their team work and dedication to the work we do at DJJ. 

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Meeting

On Thursday I attended the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting at Memorial Regional Hospital South in Hollywood. The meeting was opened by CEO of Memorial Healthcare System Aurelio M. Fernandez, who discussed Memorial Healthcare System’s work in providing for children in the community. In addition the Cabinet also honored outgoing State Senator Eleanor Sobel for her dedication to Florida’s children and families. The day prior to the meeting, the Cabinet took a tour of the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. The hospital is run by Memorial Healthcare which hosted the Cabinet meeting and is one of the region's leading pediatric hospitals, offering a comprehensive scope of healthcare services and programs in a child-friendly atmosphere.

The mission of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet is to ensure that the public policy of Florida relating to children and youth promotes interdepartmental collaboration and program implementation in order for services designed for children and youth to be planned, managed and delivered in a holistic and integrated manner to improve the self-sufficiency, safety, economic stability, health and quality of life of all children and youth in Florida.

HBI Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On Aug 19, Walton Youth Development Center, a high-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, held a ribbon cutting and building dedication ceremony to commemorate the new Home Builders Institute (HBI) vocational training building.  This new structure will be the new HBI Walton Career Center’s shop, classroom, and tool room.  This caliber of a building has been in the dream stages since HBI began providing vocational training in July 2011 out of a refurbished and undersized structure.  The prior shop/tool room was an old green house that had been around for years and was in desperate need of major repairs.  The HBI staff and students have been eagerly awaiting the new building!

The new HBI vocational training building delivers optimum shop space to train the students and practice building bigger and better projects.  The classroom will provide the students with a more suitable space to complete the academic requirements of the pre-apprentice training as well as a structured environment to provide employability and social skills groups.  Overall, it will be a more conducive environment for the HBI staff and students.  According to one student, “by opening this new building, HBI has increased an insatiable hunger for participation in this helpful extracurricular activity”.

The new building was dedicated to Regional Director Mary Mills in commemoration of her 35 years of dedicated service to the youth and families of the State of Florida.  Mrs. Mills was instrumental in making this project a priority and reality.

Above left: From left to right: Jeanette Jackson, CEO Universal Health Systems, Inc. (Provider at Walton Youth Development Center), myself, Mary Mills, Ashlyn Mills (Mary’s daughter), Tim Mills (Mary’s husband), and Angela Forward, Sr. Program Manager for HBI. 

Above right: From left to right: Jeanette Jackson, State Representative Brad Drake, myself, Mary Mills, Angela Forward, and HBI Regional Program Manager James C. Goodman.

Prevention Update

Congratulations to Diamond Ragin on being selected he Prevention and Victim Services Employee of the Quarter! Diamond’s work in the Office of Prevention includes assisting the Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) Liaison with CAB-related duties and activities. She is a team player who on occasion has assumed the day-to-day duties in the absence of administrative staff and was helpful in the facilitation of the State Advisory Group meeting held this May, where she not only ensured that the meeting ran flawlessly but made sure that transportation was available to take SAG members to site visits. She is also helpful in the execution of travel-related responsibilities for the other meetings and conferences attended by Prevention and Victim Services staff.

Diamond has a positive can-do attitude and is always energetic and willing to attempt new tasks. She accepts constructive criticism well and is a quick learner. She is a valuable addition to the Prevention team and very deserving of this recognition.  On behalf of our agency, I would like to congratulate Diamond and thank her for her hard work and dedication to our Department. 

In the above photo, Diamond Ragin (left) accepts the Prevention Employee of the Quarter Award from Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Prevention and Victim Services. 

Recently, DJJ Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, State and Federal Director Eugene Morris and Circuit 4 Reform Specialist Donna Clayton attended the Regional Faith Forum at the New Life Church in Jacksonville. The forum included a panel discussion aimed at meeting the needs of youth and families in our care. Faith partners were presented with information concerning how to connect and identify services that are needed by youth in the community.

The forum also included a panel that addressed concerns of youth in the Circuit. The panel included Jim Clark, Circuit 4 Advisory Board Chair; Darrell Johnson, Superintendent, Duval Regional Detention Center; Pastor Gerard Duncan; Chris Massey, and Diane Pearson, Chief Probation Officer, Circuit 8.

At the forum, the following faith partners were recognized for their outstanding service to the you the and families served by DJJ: Gerard Duncan, Prayers by Faith Ministries, Gainesville; Bernard Collins, McCoy Creek Church of Christ, Jacksonville; Willie Ponds, Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville; Clifton Anderson, Shiloh Church, Jacksonville; Jacqueline Collier and Garland Scott, both from the Embassy Fellowship Church, Jacksonville.

In the above photo (from left to right), Jim Clark, Chair, Circuit 4, Circuit Advisory Board; Darrell Johnson, Superintendent, Duval Regional Detention Center; Pastor Gerard Duncan, Prayers by Faith Ministries in Gainesville; Chris Massey, Circuit 7 Reform Specialist; and Diane Pearson, Chief Probation Officer, Circuit 8

Youth from the PACE Center for Girls Volusia-Flagler attended a Summer Session workshop that focused on dating safety in Ormond Beach. As part of their Spirited Girls course, students have been working with the Domestic Abuse Council on a “Safe Dates” curriculum, designed to help girls develop healthy relationships, identify characteristics of unhealthy ones, and develop skills to exit relationships that may be or may become unsafe. By the end of the course, the girls will have developed a safety plan and learned how to help a friend.

The class welcomed Education Specialist Mickey Beauregard from the Volusia County Domestic Abuse Council to facilitate the eight week course. The course teaches these young ladies what a healthy relationship looks and sounds like so they can better understand the red flags that indicate abuse. After gaining understanding, the girls are given the opportunity to create an individualized safety plan which includes the resources they need to get help.

The series culminated with a ceremony where the girls were presented with certificates and with hand-made quilts. The quilt pieces represented the many facets of healthy relationships which are respect, trust, support, accountability, self-confidence, shared power, communication, negotiation, fairness and non-threatening behavior. Beauregard shared that just like the quilt, a healthy relationship is like a work of art that makes one feel warm, comfortable and loved. The quilts were made by volunteers especially for this program.

In the above photo, girls from PACE Center for Girls, Volusia-Flagler, pose with quilts they received at the end of their presentation on “Safe Dates.”

Detention Update

Brevard County Jail Chief Mike Lewis and several of his staff members made a visit to the Brevard RJDC to speak to the youth about juvenile crime, restorative justice, and how every action involves consequences. The jail staff also spoke about crime and the impact it has on the local community and helped our youth to understand that impact. Chief Lewis stressed to the youth that we are all a part of one community and we need to work to ensure that we live in a safe environment. 

The administration team from the Bay RJDC recognized their staff members during a facility meeting last month. The meeting began with a luncheon which consisted of barbeque pork and chicken that was provided by the administration and included a vast array of side dishes that were provided by staff members. During the fellowship, each staff member was given a 3x5 index card with their name on one side and a descriptive word. Major Heather Hart and Corporal Caitlinmae Jed then went around the room as each staff member read their card aloud and listened as each employee was recognized for their contribution or skill that helps make up the successful team at Bay Detention. Each staff member was awarded for their specific contribution with a certificate, a king sized bar of chocolate and a goody bag. 

I am pleased to share the following letter that came from a youth from the Bay RJDC. This youth has had some significant trauma in his life which has cultivated in him trust issues and anger management problems. He took the time to ensure that the staff at Bay RJDC knew how much they made a difference in his life and how much he appreciates all that they have done for him prior to his release. We wish this young person all the best and hope that he continues down the path towards a successful future. 

OMC II Larry O’Steen from the Office of Detention Services and Senior Safety Specialist Tommy Blankenship traveled across the state this month to deliver training to detention facility safety coordinators in each region. Among the topics discussed were workman’s compensation injuries, safety policies, importance of housekeeping, steps for safety inspections and the policies for required items in transport vans. In addition, Larry and Tommy encouraged these safety coordinators to design a safety bulletin board which highlights the proper procedures around the facility. 

North Region: Escambia – Sylvester Scott; Bay – Rhonda Hartwell; Alachua – Robert Loyd; Marion – James Frye; Leon – Sharon Smith; Duval – Leroy Johnson; Larry O’Steen; Okaloosa – Ariel Veguilla

South Region: Left:  Brad Masternick, Pamela Reddick, Luis Quinones, Latarja Reddick, Cornelia Burden, Arthur Barber and John Johnson

Central Region: 1st. Row- left to right- Tommy Blankenship, Diana Francis ( Asst. Supt.)- Pasco, Roosevelt Butler (Asst. Supt.)- Orange and Margie McKinney  (Asst. Supt.)- Brevard, Larry O’Steen

Directly behind Margie McKinney is Gary Bridges (JJDOS)– Pinellas

2nd. Row- left to right – Samuel Gibson (JJDOS) – Hills. West, Terry Carter(Supt.) – Manatee, and Rickey Ray (Asst. Supt.)- Manatee

Probation Update 

Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee from Circuit 6 participated in a back to school event with the Police Athletic League (PAL) in St. Petersburg on August 7.

The event provided backpacks, school supplies, books, clothes, shoes, haircuts, food, and lunch to families in need, all free of charge. Numerous representatives from various community agencies provided information about services available in the area. The DJJ team was on hand to provide educational and parenting skills family engagement brochures. 

SJPO Yvette Carethers also used this event to ensure that a youth on her caseload was prepared for the upcoming school year. Yvette accompanied the youth and her mother to the event where the same backpacks, school supplies, books, clothes, shoes, haircuts, food, and lunch were provided to that youth all free of charge. Both mother and daughter were appreciative of Yvette’s efforts and were very thankful. 

Recently,  the probation office in Circuit 16 welcomed a summer intern. Ms. Shawntell Delice interned for a total of 325 hours of the summer with Circuit 16 probation, and will be returning to Tallahassee this fall to continue her studies in a joint program between Florida State University and Florida A&M University. We thank Shawntell for all of her hard work and wish her nothing but the best in her future plans! 

Pictured from left to right are: C16 Chief Karen Knight, Intern Shawntell Delice and Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Geoff Peattie.

Probation staff in Circuit 3 welcomed United States Navy Recruiter Christopher Wooten to their recent monthly staff meeting. Leading Petty Officer Wooten provided our DJJ staff with promotional items and valuable brochures that can be distributed to the youth and families we serve. DJJ stakeholders Project Connect and Southwest Key were also on hand to receive this information. 

Pictured left to right: JPOS Tuwuana Rossin, JPO Samantha Hartzog, Leading Petty Officer Christopher B. Wooten, Reform Specialist Michelle Galloway and JPO Alichia Bryant

Recently, Administrative Assistant Rita Peck from the Titusville Probation Office in Circuit 18 began chemotherapy for breast cancer. As a result, her renowned long locks of hair have been replaced by a fashionable exposed look and a fearless smile. The Titusville staff, including CPO Denise Delvin, came together to join Rita’s fight and offered to shave their heads in support. Rita said that she wouldn’t be able to get her work done through all the laughter if all of her colleagues shaved their heads, so instead the staff banded together and donned scarves and bandanas as a symbol of support. I would like to send my thoughts and prayers to Rita as she continues to fight the good fight, and thank the staff members in Circuit 18 for supporting her so fiercely. 

Last October, California State University in Los Angeles was awarded the 2015 Design Study of Dual System Youth from the national Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The design study will identify effective and efficient strategies to measure the prevalence of dual system youth; identify the status of coordination and data sharing between the juvenile and criminal justice and child welfare and identify avenues for improved coordination and data sharing across systems.

Broward County began its work as a Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) site back in 2010 and continues to work diligently to sustain CYPM principles. Accordingly, Circuit 17 CPO Cassandra Evans and Chief Dependency Judge in Circuit 17 Hope Bristol attended the Jurisdictional Case Studies committee meeting at California State on August 16. This committee is entrusted with the task of using findings from the jurisdictional case studies to design a method (or methodologies) to collect and report multisite information in a consistent and representative way.

Residential Update 

Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA), a high-risk program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently began a new pet therapy program in partnership with the Pixel Fund, a not-for-profit organization that works to rescue pets from shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized.  As part of the program, PBYA residents are fostering puppies that are rescued from such shelters while providing care and basic training for them.  The puppies, Bailey and Sassy, will remain at the program for approximately six weeks until a new family adopts them.  PBYA staff will host an adoption event during which the boys will teach the adopting families all about their new pets.  Once Sassy and Bailey are adopted, a new set of puppies will arrive and the process will begin again.  During my recent visit to PBYA, I had the opportunity to spend some time and give a few cuddles with these adorable puppies. PBYA plans to keep certain dogs for longer periods of time as they receive specialized training to become future service dogs.

The residents of the RAM-C (Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged) Program, a non-secure program for boys, ages 9 to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., recently participated in a Back-to-School Jumpstart-2-Success event hosted by Tallahassee’s hip hop and R&B radio station blazin’ 102.3.  Each student was provided a backpack filled with school supplies that they will be able to take home with them when they leave the program, a lunch from Golden Corral, and a haircut by barbers in Tallahassee from the Living In The Cut Barber Shop & the Renegade Barber Shop

Youth D.H. commented about his experience on this outing:

I think this trip was good for us and for kids in the community because it helps kid’s mom save money, I had fun because we got a real good haircut and a nice book bag. I will look good now when I’m leaving the program and have supplies for when I start at my real school next week. I liked how we also got to go out to eat and spend time with the staff off campus. It was a good day.

Last week, five students from Spring Lake Youth Academy (SLYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted the Desoto County Chamber of Commerce in preparing for the Politics in the Park event.  This event brought together community members, local businesses, and local candidates running for election and included informative short speeches from each of the candidates, along with a meet-and-greet at their booths.  The event also featured a variety of booths, including local not-for-profit organizations and kid’s activities.  The boys helped to prepare for the event by setting up tents and tables for the candidates, as well as setting up water coolers and food tables. 

Five residents of Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., recently visited and toured the Kennedy Space CenterKennedy Space Center Director of Education Jim Christensen gave the boys a personal tour of the grounds.  He explained in detail what the space program is and what it takes to be a space explorer and astronaut.  

Recently, Melbourne Center for Personal Growth’s Science Teacher Ruby Kehayias and her students created a raised-bed garden at the program, which will be used as a living classroom.  First, the students laid the soil, which was donated by Office Manager Judy Dee from Doug Conner Inc., in order to level the fenced plot.  Next, a crew of volunteers from Discovery Life Church assisted the boys with laying the blocks for the raised beds.  Beginning next month, the garden will be ready for planting. 

Students in the Culinary Program at Melbourne Center for Personal Growth participated in a “food challenge” event.  Two teams of five students planned their menus and prepared four dishes each with the supervision of AMIkids Chef Michel Descoteaux.  Some of the items on the menu included fettuccini alfredo with basil chicken, Thai shrimp salad, and breaded parmesan calamari.  The food challenge was funded by a donation to the culinary program from local residents Bernice and Hartford Lee.  The dishes were judged based on presentation, taste, and creativity.  Team #2 won the challenge with their shrimp cocktail, sausage and potato soup, chicken alfredo, and cheesecake. 

Florida Faith Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium!

The seventh annual Florida Faith Symposium will be held November 2-3, 2016, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando. The Faith Symposium connects conference attendees to resources, best practices, and training to enhance faith and community-based programs that serve youth and struggling families.

This event is hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council and other statewide partners. Throughout the conference there will be more than 35 educational sessions and exhibit booths.

You can register here to take advantage of the early bird special!