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Secretary's Message

September 12, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

For the first time in over ten years, when Hurricane Wilma made landfall in 2005, Florida received a direct hit from a hurricane. While Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the big bend region and moved across our state, the storm’s effects were also felt in the central region, Tampa Bay area and Pasco County. 

First, I would like to thank our DJJ staff who did a tremendous job in ensuring that our facilities were prepared and our youth were safe. Our programs fared well during the storm and I know that was due in part to your careful planning and preparation. I would also like to thank our providers and their staff for working with our Department to ensure that we were ready in advance of the storm and in our efforts afterwards.  

With three months left in the 2016 Hurricane Season, I strongly encourage each of you to visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Get a Plan website where you can create an emergency plan specific to your family. You can also visit the Division’s FloridaDisaster.org for up-to-date weather and post-storm information. This site is also a helpful resource for other Florida weather and non-weather related hazards. 

As a reminder, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) launched its annual Emergency Contact Information (ECI) campaign in conjunction with the start of the 2016 Hurricane Season. The ECI system was developed first in Florida because there was no emergency contact program in place to quickly notify loved-ones in the event of an emergency. Please visit the DHSMV’s website here to learn more about ECI and to register your emergency contact information to allow law enforcement to quickly notify your family or friends in response to an emergency situation. 

It is critical that we continue to work together to be informed and prepared so that we are able to respond swiftly should an emergency strike.  Thank you again to our team for all of your hard work in weathering this storm. 


Christina K. Daly

Hurricane Hermine Clean-Up Effort

Last week, Governor Rick Scott joined Florida Department of Transportation crews, members of the Florida National Guard, various veterans’ groups and agency leadership and staff to assist with debris removal in Tallahassee in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine. I was excited to help pitch in and join together with some of our team members to help clean up our city and county roads.  Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield and Deputy Jon Conley joined me in the Glenview Drive area of Midtown as we cleared debris and powerlines from the area. Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims worked the clean-up effort on the Southside of town in Liberty Park, while Director of Communications Heather DiGiacomo removed debris from Optimist Park in Indianhead Acres. My thanks to all of our staff members who donated their time to help with the clean-up efforts. 

While Hermine developed into only a category one hurricane, even smaller storms can cause damage, including downed power lines and trees.  As you can see from the pictures above, the storm uprooted trees at the entrance to the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Thankfully, our staff and the youth at the detention center were safe throughout the storm and no one was harmed.

Juvenile Justice Leadership Network Meeting

On August 29-30, I was in Washington D.C. to attend a meeting of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network in Washington D.C. The Juvenile Justice Leadership Network (JJLN), is part of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) and was created to support juvenile justice and probation leaders at the state and local level who are engaged in significant reform efforts in their jurisdictions. 

As a proud member of the JJLN, I am always excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with other juvenile justice leaders and to share lessons learned as we continue our ongoing reform efforts not only in Florida but across the country. 

2016 DCF Child Protection Summit 

Last week, the Florida Department of Children and Families hosted their 2016 Child Protection Summit at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes hotel in Orlando. The summit is the largest child welfare event in Florida with more than 2,800 child welfare professionals and related partners in attendance. DJJ is always pleased to take part in this event as we show solidarity with our DCF colleagues in providing the right services to all of Florida’s children within the child welfare system. 

This year, a total of 12 DJJ employees traveled to Orlando to serve as workshop presenters, and I am so humbled to see such a large contingent from our agency serve as experts in their designated fields. On Thursday, Circuit 9 ACPO Johnny Alderman joined Probation Director for Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell and Central Region Probation Director Cathy Lake to host, “Strengthening Collaboration to Improve Services for Multi-System Children.” Jeannie also worked with the Florida Network for Youth and Family Services to host a workshop dedicated to our Stop Now and Plan curriculum and how it is working for at-risk young boys around the state. Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot hosted two workshops regarding human trafficking on Thursday. The first dealt with the human trafficking screening tool implemented by the Department, while the second featured a case study in human trafficking.

Also on Thursday, Circuit 4 SJPO Rachel Hillegass joined the Honorable Judge David Gooding and others as they explained the Crossover Youth Model and how it can benefit youth in a positive way. In addition, Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts discussed the civil citation initiative and how civil citations can help prevent children from crossing into the delinquency system.

On Friday, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Circuit Advisory Board Liaison Patrice Richardson, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and former DJJ DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch, hosted an engaging seminar entitled, “Building Stronger Communities One Neighborhood at a Time through Engagement, Outreach and Faith,” where they highlighted our prevention and faith network outreach services. Finally, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham and Director of Program Accountability Amy Johnson hosted, “Reducing Stress through Body-Based Mindfulness and Breath Work,” which showed participants how to overcome stressful situations at work. My thanks to all of our employees who participated.

Shown above: Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell speaking during a workshop regarding the Stop Now and Plan Curriculum.

JDAI State Scale Convening 

Also this week, members of the DJJ Executive Leadership Team traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to attend a meeting for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). DJJ Representatives included Assistant Secretary for Probation Paul Hatcher, Director of Data and Research Mark Greenwald, Statewide JDAI Coordinator Minnie Bishop and Attorney Kathleen Tailor from the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

This meeting brought together 21 JDAI states that are currently participating in the initiative in order to share challenges, discuss tips on approaching a statewide scale, refine processes to ensure fidelity, and discuss strategies that contribute to and ensure sustainability of the JDAI reforms. Workshops were were offered on various topics such as conditions of confinement, reducing racial and ethnic disparities, and improving case processing practices. Minnie presented to this national audience on Florida's innovative uses of data to guide JDAI work and ways to ensure consistency in practices across JDAI sites.

The JDAI change model began two decades ago as a pilot project to reduce reliance on local confinement of court-involved youth. JDAI is now operating in nearly 300 counties nationwide, dramatically reducing detention facility populations. 

Daily Point of Light Award

Congratulations to Dr. Sandra Pavelka on receiving the Point of Light Award for her dedication in bettering the lives of young people. Aside from her many accomplishments, Dr. Pavelka serves as chair of our Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board in Circuit 20.

The Points of Light movement began in 1993 when President George H.W. Bush submitted a report to the nation on his efforts to engage Americans in service. In his address, he called these volunteers “points of light” and stated “Points of Light are the soul of America. They are ordinary people who reach beyond themselves to touch the lives of those in need, bringing hope and opportunity, care and friendship.”

Since 1998, more than 5,000 Daily Point of Light honorees have been named to date, with Dr. Pavelka officially becoming the 5,816th “point of light” when she was awarded for her service work with youth in Southwest Florida.

As a champion of our Department’s reform efforts and for the youth we serve, Dr. Pavelka has truly sparked change and is the embodiment of what this award symbolizes.  To read more about her great story, you can click here.  

Congratulations again to Dr. Pavelka on this very deserving award! 

Probation Update

Circuit 4 JPO Sonya Rollins coordinated a circuit-wide book bag and school supply donation for probationary youth on their caseloads. Sonya worked with JDAI Coordinator Vickie Burke and Reform Specialist Donna Clayton to solicit donations for these items. AMIkids of Jacksonville along with a local realtors donated book bags while the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars donated notebook paper. Circuit 4 donated a total of 130 book bags which were stuffed with school supplies to our youth. I would like to thank JPO Rollins for spearheading this event as well as JPOS Ashley Graves and Emily Guzman, SJPOs Amy Medis and LaTonia Taylor and JPOs Shernean Mathews, DeEdgra Wyche, Elizabeth Wynn and Alania Carroll-Brazeau for their assistance. 

The Circuit 17 Probation office in Broward County held their 7th Annual Back to School Extravaganza on August 13. The event was held in partnership with the Team SOY diversion program and the Hopewell Baptist Church of Pompano Beach. Over 100 youth and their families attended the program which included a catered barbeque lunch and book bags stuffed with school supplies. The event featured guest speakers from the TJ Reddick Bar Association, the 100 Black Men of Greater Fort Lauderdale, as well as a panel of youth advocates.

Pictured (L-R): Front Row- Chanel Oliver, Nancy Gonzalez, Johande Serrano, Andrice Holley, and Dakri Lukowski

Back Row- Regina Gonzalez, Cassandra Evans, Wanda Smith, and Alfred Mendivil

Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee participated in a forum entitled, “The Faith Community’s Role in After School Education” on August 29 at the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg. The forum was hosted by the Reverend Dr. Alfonso Wyatt who provided information on the challenges and dangers of contemporary life that are putting children at risk. Dr. Wyatt provides vital leadership to youth, young adults, and professionals in both sacred and secular institutions and communities in New York City and around the country. After the presentation, the audience broke out into smaller groups to discuss strategic action and plans for the community. 

I am pleased to share the story of youth RA who has been under the care of JPO Salita Algere-Mason. RA and his brother AA have been dealing with some significant trauma in their home life which has resulted in both boys running away and engaging in delinquent behaviors. Salita has worked diligently with both youth and their families to maintain a stable unit while implementing services. She met with them both on a weekly and sometimes daily basis in order to provide intervention and de-escalation. As a result of her hard work, RA was able to move out of the family home and worked to obtain his high school diploma. RA has been off probation for several months now, but has maintained contact with Salita as she remains a consistent positive role model in his life. Congratulations to both young men and my thanks to JPO Algere-Mason for sticking beside both of them during this trying experience! 

Paxen Community Connections Brevard in Circuit 18 is excited to share the graduation of youth TC. TC has successfully transitioned back into a traditional high school, which was a major goal for this young man.  In addition, TC tried out for and was selected to be a part of his high school football team.  He was very proud to display a copy of his name appearing on the roster.

Community Connections provided a full array of delinquency intervention services.  TC participated in and successfully completed Thinking for A Change and Victim Impact.  He also took advantage of the community outings, workshops and other activities that taught him the value of education and prosocial activities.  Let’s all applaud TC for his efforts and achievements and let him know that his possibilities are endless!

On August 31, Paxen Community Connections youth from Osceola participated in a wonderful life skills and career readiness curricula sponsored by The Beyond Institute and Career Center.  This course lasted 6 weeks and was a great supplement to Paxen’s delinquency intervention services. Youth were given hands on lessons in financial literacy, independent living, character development and career exploration. 

The Beyond Institute staff and Paxen were able to work together to challenge our youth and equip them with the knowledge, skills and values that will enable them to live effective and constructive lives and become productive members in our community. To celebrate their success, 23 youth participated in an awards dinner and banquet to celebrate their achievements.  Each youth participant was recognized for their achievements and received an award.

Detention Update

Recently, the Pinellas RJDC began a partnership with the Build Optimal Youth Success (BOYS) Court. The court was designed by the Honorable Judge James Pierce and helps youth lead productive lives through the use of speakers and community service projects. The program will be held at the Pinellas County Courthouse and will soon begin to work with the local public schools. The first presentation of this new partnership was held at the Pinellas RJDC and hopes to positively impact the lives of young men in detention. I would like to thank Captain Eris Womack for his work in coordinating this new initiative.   

Derrick Elias from the Bureau of Human Resources conducted EEOC training with staff members of the Brevard RJDC. The training was very informative and the open atmosphere gave staff members the chance to speak freely and address any questions or concerns regarding EEOC compliance. Derrick spent the whole day at the Brevard RJDC and it was a great experience for all.

Juvenile Justice Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) who graduated from Hillsborough Community College on September 5th.  Kudos to Learning Consultant Kiva Hagans for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Left to right:  Mylkar Belmont – Pinellas, Lena Rovellada – Pinellas, Patrick Brenan – Manatee, Paris Resto – Hillsborough, Reginald Sutton – Pinellas, Carlos Solis – Pinellas, Azur H-Abdic – Pinellas, Joseph Locke- Pasco, Kiva Hagans – Learning Consultant, Xiomary Fonseca - Manatee, Mickle Wallace- Pasco, Christian Roberts – Hillsborough, Jerry Alcantara – Hillsborough, Kiara Rivera- Hillsborough, Yolanda Welch- Pinellas, Caitlin Smoak- Pinellas , Maryia Compton - Pinellas

Prevention Update 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell and SJPO Jeffrey Julius, Sr. from Circuit 11 attended the Miami Children’s Initiative’s 3rd Annual Red Carpet Event at Brownsville Middle School in Liberty City on August 22. Marie and Julius joined a host of community leaders, police officers, residents, and caring individuals who lined the entrance of Brownsville Middle School and greeted everyone as they entered to welcome them to the new school year. They rolled out the red carpet and held signs to encourage the youth with positive messages, such as “You can do it!” The well-wishers also cheered and applauded as they greeted the children, parents, and teachers that entered the school.  

In the photo above, Marie Boswell (left) and Audrey Edmondson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 3.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis and Community Development Director for the City of Panama and Chair of our Circuit 14 Advisory Board Michael Johnson set up an information booth during the Homebuyer and Community Resource Expo on August 20 at the A.D. Harris Learning Village in Panama City. The event attracted dozens of people hoping to one day become homeowners or renters. Attendees were also able to learn about other resources available in the community.

The free event provided information from housing counseling agencies. Community agencies that participated in the event included: Bay County Juvenile Justice Council, Community Development’s SHIP Program, Florida’s Hardest it, After School Assistance Program, Regions Bank, BB&T Bank, Habitat for Humanity of Bay County, IRS, Doorways of NWFL, USDA Rural Development, Panama City Fire Department and many others.

Lydia and Michael were on hand to distribute information about the Department and the juvenile justice circuit advisory board. Johnson said, “Oftentimes, it’s said there are no resources in the community.  So we’re just here to let people know the resources are out there. It’s a matter of finding them and making contact”

Circuit Advisory Board Liaison Patrice Richardson attended a Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) meeting for Circuit 7 on August 5 in St. Augustine. The CAB members discussed their legislative budget requests, annual report, new statutory members, state advisory group updates, Invest in Children funding and the upcoming 2016 Florida Faith Symposium.

I would like the thank the following staff members and stakeholders for their attendance, who you can see in the photo to the left: Carl Coalson, SEDNET; Chris Massey, Reform Specialist, Circuit 7; Julie Barrows, Volusia Council Chair; David Kerr, Chief Probation Officer, Circuit 7; Michelle Garner, CAB Vice Chair, Circuit 7 & Putnam County Chair; Owanna Stout, JDAP Coordinator, Bays Florida; Cheryl Massaro, SAG member; Cathy Egley, Civil Citation Coordinator, Circuit 7 and Cindy Fisher, CAB Chair, Circuit 7.

The PACE Center for Girls of Pasco County took part in the “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive with the United Way of Pasco County last month. Each year the United Way of Pasco County conducts a school supply drive to help teachers in the county get the supplies they need to provide for their students at the beginning of the new school year.

This year, thousands of donations were received, and over 100 teachers received a box of free school supplies. After collecting supplies at several drop off centers, a large part of this project is sorting and packing the supplies for distribution. Several girls from the Pasco PACE site worked at the distribution center for a day. They loved being able to do something constructive that was going to help so many deserving children.

Residential Update 

The residents of Charles Britt Academy (CBA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, were recently invited to have an interactive visit at the corporate office of F & F Productions, LLC.  The company is recognized industry-wide as an innovative pioneer for its unparalleled contributions to remote television broadcasting and is a leading provider of high definition remote production facilities.  F & F Productions, LLC partners with major networks like CBS, ESPN, ABC, and FOX and provides video coverage for major events such as the Super Bowl, the Masters, the Final Four, and the BET Awards.  President & CEO George Orgera shared with the residents his personal struggles, accomplishments, and failures.  He gave the students an in-depth tour of the multi-million-dollar production trailers. They also operated cameras, switch boards, video monitors, and headsets while Mr. Orgera explained in detail how each part of T.V. production works.  A lunch was provided at the end for the students and staff.  After this experience, several students have expressed interest in taking college courses relating to video production.  Special thanks go to Mr. Orgera, his team, and the Pinellas County School Board’s Behavior Specialist Ginni Grieb for this outing! 

Last week, the residents of Charles Britt Academy were invited to a VIP experience at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp.  Buccaneer’s Wide Receiver Bernard Reedy organized VIP seating, a free breakfast, and autographs from and pictures with some of the NFL players.  Special thanks go to many of the football players who took time out from the training camp to speak with the boys about the importance of wise decision-making and to share their personal journeys of how they got to where they are today. 

Shown left (left to right): Students with Running Back Charles Sims III and Johnnie Downing.

As part of the continued monthly career development model, five residents of Bartow Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in a financial literacy activity.  The students developed a budget and shopping list before the supervised outing, during which they purchased the items.  Through this activity, the boys learned about finances and budgeting while getting real-world experience, which will assist them as they begin to transition back into their communities.  

Bartow Youth Academy also held a family day event at the program.  Parents, loved ones, and the boys enjoyed a variety of planned activities. The biggest hit seemed to be the shaved ice truck that served snow cones, which really helped cool off everyone in attendance!   

Polk Halfway House, a non-secure program for boys, ages 10 to 14, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, joined with Bartow Youth Academy to develop “Fun Friday’s,” which brings the boys together for a day of sporting activities.  They learned the importance of comradery and sportsmanship all while having a great time.

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!