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Secretary's Message

October 31, 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

Detention Update

I am pleased to announce that JJDO Supervisor Hector Rivera from the Monroe RJDC was honored as the Detention Supervisor of the Month for the South Region. Lopez was presented a certificate from Acting Superintendent Terrance Lopez. The Monroe Detention Center is unique as it requires our officers to be flexible depending on the number of youth they have in custody. Hector has made himself consistently available to assist and takes the initiative to complete additional tasks as needed.  He is a team player and major contributor in making sure Monroe RJDC operations continue to run smoothly.  On behalf of DJJ, I would like to congratulate JJDO Supervisor Rivera and thank him on a job well done! 

The Miami-Dade RJDC recently held a birthday celebration for their staff members who were celebrating October birthdays. Each of the eleven staff members were given goodie bags that contained cookies, office supplies, and a lucky scratch off ticket. In addition, the RJDC recognized two officers as their Rookie Officers of the Quarter. JJDOs Jacoby Sessions and Randy Maynes were both recognized and received certificates for their efforts. Both officers are highly respected by both their co-workers and the youth at the facility. 

VSAFL continues to work diligently in providing art education services for the youth within our detention facilities. Recently, VSA and the Bay County School District partnered with the Bay RJDC to incorporate the art of painting with the art of music for the youth at the facility. VSA artist Ms. Cox has already come out for three of a total of five two-hour sessions and her teaching has made a wonderful impact on the youth.

During her first visit, the youth worked to individually paint their own “drums” out of gallon paint buckets. The next two visits were focused on different drumming and percussion techniques. The youth worked together to create songs through different beats and percussion instruments. 

Sargent Vikingson Dalien from the Collier RJDC attended a fundraiser for CALL FM, a local non-profit radio station based out of Naples, on October 22. CALL FM covers all of South Florida and the Upper Keys and its mission is to reach young adults and “call” them to seek a personal and dynamic relationship with God through the influence of culturally relevant music ranging from rock to hip-hop. CALL FM is a completely volunteer radio station and holds fundraisers to keep the station up and running. Sargent Dalien is a radio personality on CALL FM who covers high school football from First Baptist Academy in Naples and interviews Christian musical artists who stop in town. 

The Duval RJDC held their annual fall festival for the youth at the facility on October 21.  The youth began the event by decorating their own treat bags before moving from station to station as they were given treats for participating in games, answering questions, and interacting with staff. In addition, the youth headed outside where they learned about exercise and keeping healthy. The stations included a meet and greet with Sam the therapy dog and her handler, JPO Jennifer Waldrop, a gas exchange table where they learned about oxygen and carbon dioxide, a “pin the tail” on the terrain contest and a probability table where they learned about numbers and statistics. In addition, each of the youth selected a book which they could keep as their own when they left the facility. I would like to thank the following probation staff members who helped man several of the stations: JPOs Melissa Przybylski, Megan Brady and Rose Sanon as well as JDAI Coordinator Vicki Burke. The fall festival allowed these officers to see their assigned youth acting in a positive manner and the youth that participated had a wonderful time.  

The Duval RJDC hosted a farewell luncheon for Superintendent Darrell Johnson on October 13. Mr. Johnson was Superintendent at Duval for the last three years and has recently taken a position as the Operations and Program Manager for the North Region Office of Detention Services. North Region Director Jeff Wenhold and former OPM Sheddrick Brooks were on hand for the celebration as facility and support staff congratulated Chief Johnson on this great accomplishment. Chief Johnson was a wonderful asset to the Duval RJDC and will be missed by all! 

Reverend Eddis Miller, the newly appointed Chaplain of the Okaloosa RJDC and leader of the SetFree Outreach Ministry, sponsored a staff appreciation lunch for the staff at the facility. The luncheon included a feast of fresh mullet and shrimp that was caught by Chaplain Miller off Florida’s Emerald Coast. The meal was incredible and the appreciative staff thanked Chaplain Miller with a certificate of appreciation. Since his appointment, Chaplain Miller has made an immediate impact on the youth. He has provided help and support services while giving the youth words of hope and positive encouragement whenever they request it.

Don’t forget FJJF when you shop Amazon

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) teamed up with Amazon Smile last year to provide a convenient and philanthropic way for you to support FJJF every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop through AmazonSmile at http://smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 5% of the purchase price to FJJF.  Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations.

Simply go to smile.amazon.com anytime you want to make a purchase on Amazon and search “Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation” in the search box as your charity. The proceeds from your purchase will come to FJJF and benefit our children who are in need. Add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.  It’s convenient, charitable and the perfect way to shop for the upcoming holidays.  Thank you for supporting an important cause and making a difference in the lives of our youth! 

Probation Update

Recently, staff from the Eckerd Kids Project Bridge program in Brevard County accompanied several probationary youths on their monthly community service project entitled the Trash Bash at the Beach at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach.

Armed with trash bags, the youth picked up garbage and recyclable items throughout the park and were then treated to pizza at the end of their service. The kids enjoyed the afternoon of collaboration with their peers and staff members. 

The AMIkids YES program has created a partnership with the Florida ID Mobile Unit (Gather Go Get) where the unit comes out to the facility once a month to help their students in receiving their Florida Identification Cards. This partnership will allow these young men in obtaining employment through the program’s vocational services through the Florida Department of Labor. 

In addition, the YES program has partnered with Drum Magic, a music-based program that focuses on team building, stress relief, spiritual healing and experiential education. Drum Magic has shown to increase morale and builds on pro-social relationships between staff and students. The group is facilitated by Jana Broder, and the program participates in working together in creating drum beats in unison in a fun filled hour long session that takes place twice a month.

The YES Program’s Career Coordinator Sonja Johnson recently met with the general manager of a local Dollar Tree, Mr. Clarence, about employment opportunities for several youths in the program. Mr. Clarence is a strong believer in giving at-risk youth a chance to better themselves and was happy to form a partnership with the YES program. Three youth from the program who are currently working toward their GED’s interviewed with the Dollar Tree. Mr. Clarence did more than interview the young men, he took the time to talk to the boys about capitalizing on opportunities and the importance of advocating for oneself.  The boys were hired on the spot and began orientation later that day. We are extremely proud of these young men! 

YES youth had the opportunity to meet with the infamous “Murph the Surf,” Jack Murphy, and tour his facility on October 20. Jack Roland Murphy or "Murph the Surf" is a surfing champion, musician, author, artist, and convicted felon, who was involved in the biggest jewel heist in American history at the American Museum of Natural History. Today Jack Murphy is an ordained minister, working with inmates in the field of prison ministry. “Murph the Surf” is interested in linking with our program to help provide community resources that can contribute to the overall success of our young men. The tour stemmed from a relationship with AMIkids Chad Caldwell and his partnership with Murphy.

SJPO Richard Jones, JPO Rachel Kumbat and Reform Specialist Sam Lyons from Circuit 2 partnered with the Florida Department of Corrections and their probation officer trainees to mentor young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County. This mentoring effort was design to build on community relations and support. It was a fantastic time of fellowship where each and every youth left the mentoring session with donated school supplies.

The probation unit supervisors from Circuit 13 including JPOSs Rose Leto, Delores Richardson and Phillipa Robertson held their second annual joint meeting with their probation staffs on October 14 at the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa.

During this meeting, Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney presented updates on the Department’s reform initiatives while Commitment Manager Tifini Brantley provided information on residential services. The meeting was followed by a luncheon where all staff members enjoyed a variety of goodies.

Circuit 6 DJJ staff members participated in a mental health conference entitled “ROAR—Our Voices Heard—Mental Health Matters” October 21-23 in Pinellas County. The conference was presented in collaboration with the Pinellas County Urban League, Deuces Live, Connect 4 Families and the Florida Department of Children and Families and highlighted the collective work of clinicians, clergy, and community and governmental agencies who address mental health and wellness.

Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould and Records Technician Liz Gattarello assisted in the event, which was designed to give an overview of mental health strength and resiliency factors within the local community, share best practices in supporting a culture of health, and to increase the cultural competence and responsiveness of practitioners. In addition, JPOS Marilyn Walker, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee, and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell hosted a DJJ informational booth where they spoke with community members and gave away educational pamphlets. 

On October 20th,Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. presented to the Circuit 2 Advisory Board two checks totaling $51,172.50, representing the success of the inaugural year of the Circuit 2 Probation – Youth Work Experience Program.  The Youth Work Experience Program is provided by Twin Oaks through its partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation.  Youth participating in the program work as members of a crew that perform routine maintenance to state highways and interstates.  Typical workdays consist of vegetation control, debris removal, cleaning drainage structures and repair of roadway signs.   

In addition to the benefit of obtaining real world work experience, youth earn a daily stipend that is used to pay off restitution and court fees associated with their probation sanctions.  After the financial obligations of probation are met, youth have the option to continue participating in the program and earning the daily stipend which is then paid to the youth each month.  The first check presented at the October Circuit 2 Advisory Board meeting was presented to Deborah Shaw, who received the check on behalf of the Circuit 2 Clerks of Court.  This $24,693.50 check represented the total amount of restitution and court fees that were paid on behalf of the 122 youth participating in the program.  The second check, for $26,479, was presented to Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer Dave Cornuet and represented the amount of money paid to the participants after meeting their court ordered restitution and court fees.   

The Twin Oaks Youth Work Experience Program, which is funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, recently completed its 10th year in operation with 2015-16 being its most successful.  During the 15-16 Fiscal Year, 277 DJJ Residential and Probation youth earned $131,796 to pay towards their restitution and court fees.  You can find more information on this program at www.twinoaksfl.org/ywep.

Prevention Update

State and Federal Director Eugene Morris attended the 2016 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute in Orlando. Eugene joined DJJ Office of Education team members Julie Orange, Cindy Jones, Renette Crosby, Rowena Rose, Pete Keelan, and thousands of others who gathered to support Florida students. Working with the theme, “Together Ensuring All Students Succeed,” participants had the opportunity to attend more than five dozen workshops aimed at stakeholders, administrators, educators, students, their families and the community.

Conference highlights included a youth panel, where students shared their educational and personal experiences and explained how they overcame challenges in their lives. Keynote presentations were delivered by Hershel Lyons, Chancellor of Public Schools for the Florida Department of Education and Stephen Sroka, an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, author, teacher and educational consultant.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson, Central Regional Director for Probation Cathy Lake, Circuit 9 ACPO Johnny Alderman and Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson attended the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Community Crime Summit in Orlando. Discussions included recent crime related events that have happened in the Orlando area with an update on crime rates in the area, procedural justice, Naloxone (Narcan), which will treat a narcotic overdose in emergency situations, community engagement, and Central Florida Intelligence Exchange.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office also introduced their Violent Crime Initiative Committee, of which Dionne Anderson is a member. Former Jacksonville Jaguars football player, now World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar Titus O’Neil (also known as Thaddeus Bullard) was the keynote speaker. Mr. Bullard spoke about how each person’s role in the community is very important when trying to prevent crime and to possibly help turn around the lives of youth who are in need of community support.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis took part in a service provider vendor fair sponsored by the Family Law Advisory Group (FLAG) on October 6 at the Avalon Baptist Church in Milton. Judge Marci Goodman is the FLAG Chair in Santa Rosa County whose members are comprised of court staff, Florida bar members, social service providers, community leaders and others.

More than 40 vendors participated in the fair and shared information on resources available to the community in Santa Rosa County.  The Honorable Judges Ross and Marci Goodman provided the morning refreshments and Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office provided lunch.   

Residential Update

Congratulations to Dwight Poole from the Northwest Region on his promotion to SMA II for Residential Services Operations NW unit. Dwight assumed duties for this position on October 21 after he previously served as a Residential Operations Monitor in the NW for the last three years. Before coming to Residential in 2013, Dwight worked as a Management Review Specialist for six years, where he conducted reviews of incidents requiring a more in-depth look. Dwight gained first-hand knowledge of the inter-workings of residential programs when he worked at the Forestry Youth Academy from 1998 to 2007.  During this time, Dwight worked his way up the ranks from House Parent, to Group Treatment Home Parent II, to Administrative Assistant I, HSP Supervisor and finally to the Director of Operations.

Dwight has been married to his lovely wife for 21 years and are the parents of three beautiful teenagers. He not only serves as a leader within the Department and in his family, but in his church as well, where he serves as the Children’s Ministry Director, youth summer camp leader and Deacon.

We are excited and honored to have Dwight as the area's new SMA-II!  He has been an asset and leading member of this team for several years now and we look forward to many more. Congratulations Dwight on this very well earned promotion!

Many thanks go to the staff of the Northwest Region Residential Operations and to the staff and residents of the JoAnn Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Rite of Passage.  In preparation for Hurricane Matthew and for the possible need to have residential youth evacuate to a vacant site in the region, program staff—Therapeutic Manager Geneva Thomas and Recreational Therapist Barbara Broomfield—and 10 youth from JoAnn Bridges Academy volunteered to help clean and prepare the vacant facility.  The young ladies did a great job getting the facility ready for other program youth who may have had to evacuate from hurricane-impacted areas, which thankfully was not necessary.

Over the past month, youth and staff from Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, serving ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, have participated in serving hot lunches to hundreds of Miami-Dade area homeless and needy men at the Miami Rescue Mission.  In doing so, the young men learned the impact of one’s choices and life’s struggles.

Additionally, residents and staff displayed their commitment to community service by helping the Riverside Baptist Church of Kendall Bread of Life Food Pantry.  They restocked shelves and bagged non-perishable goods for families in need.  MYA has an excellent relationship with the church, which includes dedicated participants in the Mentorship Program at MYA through the STEADFAST Mentoring Program.  

Riverside Baptist Church has operated an emergency food pantry since February 2002.  Members of the church supply the food for the pantry and it serves needy families in the immediate vicinity.  

Recently, four residents and two staff members from Dade Juvenile Residential Facility (DJRF), a non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, were able to participate in a community sporting event by working on the sidelines of a football game as water boys and chain crew. 

The youth received community service credit from the Florida City Parks Commissioner.  The youth also met Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace.

2017 Prudential Productivity Awards

DJJ employees are among the most innovative and creative people in all of state government as they continue to seek more productive ways to perform their jobs more efficiently. I am excited to announce that the 2017 Prudential Productivity Awards, presented by Florida TaxWatch, provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the innovative ideas and resulting cost savings accomplished by enterprising DJJ employees.

Nominations are now open and forms for the 2017 Productivity Awards can be accessed at http://ppa.floridataxwatch.org/. Please take a few moments today to review the application and instructions and nominate a deserving DJJ employee or team of employees.

Last year, our agency received a total of three Prudential Productivity Awards across several different program areas. Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, so don’t hesitate to look over the award criteria and decide what you or your team has done to make our agency run more efficiently. 

Nominations can be downloaded and completed off-line prior to submitting an on-line nomination. The site opens October 1 and will close on November 15, 2016. To ensure that all nominations are accurate and properly reviewed, DJJ will not approve nominations submitted after November 8, 2016 at 5:00 p.m.  No new nominations will be accepted after that time.

Nomination packets and questions regarding nominations should be directed to Patrick Fargason at Patrick.Fargason@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2712. 

The annual Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is now officially underway and the FSECC’s online giving system is open!  

In recent years, the campaign administrators have taken several approaches to reduce the administrative costs needed to run the FSECC. The campaign’s administrative costs have been reduced by more than 50 percent through additional operational changes that improve the expense-to-donation ratio. 

As a part of the effort to lower campaign costs and to increase the amount of funds distributed to participating charities, this year’s campaign will focus on raising funds through payroll deductions only.

Please visit the Giving Nexus page to make your pledge today. For more information on how to use the online pledge tool, click here.

Pledging is easy and is open to all state employees. The online pledge system will close on November 6. You can also find charity information and much more by visiting the FSECC website at: www.fsecc.com.