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Secretary's Message

November 7, 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

DJJ Employee of the Month

It is my great pleasure to recognize Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Jillian Lewandowski as our DJJ Statewide Employee of the Month!

JPOS Lewandowski received not one but two nominations from the juvenile probation officers that she supervises in Circuit 7. Whether it is a colleague or supervisor, those that work closely with JPOS Lewandowski describe her as an incredibly intelligent and capable employee. She is a well-respected supervisor, always helpful to her staff, and encourages a positive atmosphere at the office.  Above all, she works tirelessly to promote the mission of our agency and is dedicated to improving the services provided to the youth and families in the community. I would like to thank JPOS Lewandowski for her strong work ethic and for showcasing the very best of who we are as a Department. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

We look forward to highlighting our next Employee of the Month in the near future. Our agency and I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending your nominations for the DJJ Employee of the Month Award. You can do so by clicking here.

Palm Beach Regional Detention Center and Palm Beach Youth Academy Staff Partner for Halloween

Palm Beach RJDC recently got together with Sequel TSI staff from the Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA) and the detention center education and mental health departments to host a Halloween party for the youth. The youth at the facility decorated their mod doors and corners as a team project in an effort to promote and build teamwork among one another and to provide the opportunity for the youth at the program to just be kids.

The mod doors were judged by the mental health staff, Sequel staff, and detention staff with Palm Beach Superintendent Saintil serving as the final judge. The winning mod received a pizza party for their efforts. But, as a surprise for everyone’s efforts, a pizza party was awarded to all youth hosted by Sequel and friends of the community. While celebrating and enjoying the pizza party, Palm Beach also celebrated all youth birthdays for September and October.

This wonderful party could not have happened without the very dedicated staff at the detention center, Sequel and the PBYA staff, the juvenile justice advisory board (JJAB) members, mental health department staff, the Palm Beach school district staff, and the Palm Beach probation staff who came out to support the party.  This party was a true collaborative effort and I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming together to provide a fun day for the youth at the detention center. 

Remember 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! 

Prevention Update

On October 18, staff participated in the Circuit 11 Faith Network 2016 Community Engagement Faith Symposium at the New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church in Miami-Dade.  Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell along with Assistant Chief Probation Officer Concheita Gillum, JPOS Nancy Romero, JPOS Lana Wilcox, JPOS Joann Law, and Secretary Specialist Cheryl Minter were in attendance for the event.

During the Symposium, Minister George Ellis with the Statewide Faith Network in conjunction with DJJ faith partners, community organizations, and community leaders provided updates on initiatives implemented in Miami-Dade to address juvenile delinquency and on “Engaging Our Children through Faith.”

DJJ and the Faith Network also recognized faith partners and community leaders for their outstanding service to youth and families under DJJ care and services to those at risk of entering into the juvenile justice system.

DJJ staff, Lana Wilcox and Cheryl Minter, were recognized for their diligent work performed in implementing the Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP). STEP is a program that targets at-risk youth. The goal is not only to work with juvenile offenders but also to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. The program presents information to youth that will empower them and assist them with making positive decisions.

After almost two years of changing locations and then remodeling their current building, the PACE Center for Girls in Pasco County held an Open House and Ribbon Cutting for their location on October 12th in New Port Richey.

PACE girls and staff were on hand to explain their program and provide tours. The Pasco community is very supportive of their PACE Center with more than 80 community members in attendance for this open house! 

State Advisory Group Member and President and CEO of the Florida Network or Youth and Family Services Stacy Gromatski attended the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) 2016 Conference on Children, Youth and Families October 4-6 in Orange County, CA. This year's theme was "Creating Solutions." Attendees were able to learn from and speak with NCCD research and program staff, as well as child welfare, juvenile justice, and adult protection workers, administrators, and advocates from around the country.

Dr. William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs, delivered the opening keynote address. The conference was a must-attend event for those looking to improve practices in these fields and create system change. The conference offered innovative workshop sessions in six tracks, as well as three engaging pre-conference sessions.

Human Trafficking Update 

Last week, Human Trafficking Director, Bethany Gilot, had the opportunity to travel to New York City with a delegation from Florida to meet with anti-human trafficking stakeholders in the city. On Thursday, Bethany met with judges and attorneys that oversee the various Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTIC) in the area.  Each borough has their own HTIC which serve as a specialty court that works with potential victims of human trafficking who have been arrested to offer them services in lieu of penalties.  Thursday’s meetings also included presentations from the Center for Court Innovation which works to ensure that courts adopt a trauma-informed approach and GEMS, a service provider serving commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) victims.  On Friday, the team met with another service provider and a firm that is working on issues related to Backpage.com, a website commonly used in the exploitation of minors.    

At each meeting we had the opportunity to share about the great work Florida is doing as well.  Everyone learned a great deal and we look forward to finding ways to incorporate strengths learned from the trip into Florida’s anti-trafficking initiatives.

The Florida Delegation included: Bethany Gilot, Kim Grabert (DCF), Tomas Lares (Florida Abolitionist and Greater Orlando HT Task Force), Charles Scherer (DCF), Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesias (Circuit 11), Judge Wilfredo Martinez (Circuit 9) and Mr. and Mrs. Corzine (UCF).

Monitoring and Quality Improvement Update 

During the month of October, the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) held Certified Peer Reviewer Training sessions in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Tallahassee. The Certified Peer Reviewer Training is a two-day event which provides an in-depth review of the MQI process, including an overview of all MQI standards, rating definitions, debriefing process, and the basics of writing an annual compliance report. Participants will receive elective credit hours in SkillPro for attending and passing the Certified Peer Reviewer Training.

All training sessions were taught by the Bureau’s regional monitors and regional monitoring supervisors. In total, there were 51 participants from across the state, including contracted provider staff and Department program area staff. Certified Peer Reviewer Training is available twice a year for all Department staff and contracted provider staff who are interested in learning more about the MQI process and assisting the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement when conducting on-site annual compliance reviews. If you are interested in becoming a certified peer reviewer, please ensure you have taken the Department’s Motivational Interviewing training as it is a pre-requisite for the Certified Peer Reviewer Training. The next Certified Peer Reviewer Training session will be held in Spring 2017.

Detention Update 

Things have been busy at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC)! Recently, the staff from Volusia organized a 2-on-2 basketball tournament for the youth at the facility. A total of seven teams competed and each of these teams played hard and showed good sportsmanship.  I would like to thank Volusia’s Coach Keller for making this event possible and for treating the winners and runner-ups to a lunch from McDonalds after the tournament. 

The Volusia RJDC also recently hosted a Red Ribbon Week event by having a poster contest for the youth in the facility. Red Ribbon Week was designed to keep kids drug-free throughout the school year. Each of the posters were judged by a panel of experts and the winners received ribbons and had their posters displayed in the facility (pictured below, far left).

At the end of October, the facility transformed into its own little neighborhood on Halloween, which gave those youths who received Student of the Week honors a chance to do their version of trick or treating. The youth wore masks which were made with the help of their Very Special Arts classes and carried treat bags that were also decorated in art class. They made stops for treats at master control, maintenance, medical, mental health, education, transportation and administration. Everyone involved really enjoyed this activity (pictured below right)

I am pleased to share the following letter of appreciation that was sent from Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Tricia Aponte in regards to JJDO Patrick Thomas from the Southwest RJDC.

I am always very proud and appreciative when stakeholders and partners in the community share their kind words about one of our team members. Thank you Deputy Aponte for taking the time to share this and an even bigger thank you to JJDO Thomas for going above and beyond in your duties!

The St. Lucie RJDC held their annual harvest party on October 27 and invited those youths who had no incidents over the last ten days to attend. The youth did a ghoulish job of designing pumpkins for the party where they enjoyed seasonal games, movies, music and treats. Youth and staff also got into the spirit of Halloween by dressing up or painting their faces. The youth were treated to pizza, wings, and soft drinks following the party. 

Joe Graham and Paul Britten from the Office of Detention Services held Youth Movement and Crisis Intervention Training last week at both the Pasco and Pinellas RJDCs.

This training serves to reiterate to all officers the importance of preventing issues from occurring by being diligent in their supervision, as well as focusing efforts on preventing youth from exhibiting behaviors that place themselves or others at risk.  By identifying and interrupting inappropriate behaviors youth will be afforded the opportunity to develop better coping skills.  

Employees from the Office of Detention Services attended the Healing Neen Conference in Orlando. Heeling Neen is an organization that was founded by Tonier Cain with a mission to provide services to trauma survivors and to provide trauma informed services for those organizations, including DJJ, who help people work through trauma. The conference provided wonderful opportunities to learn and network with individuals from a number of different states.

The Palm Beach RJDC has been blessed to have a wonderful chaplain and wonderful friends in the community. Recently, Ms. Mary Pia Kastrenakes and the staff from the Fidelity National Title Group donated a beautiful charcoal grill, charcoal, and all of the grilling utensils. The grill will be used for all of the level three youth at the facility as a part of the behavioral management system.

Thank you Fidelity National Title Group for the generous donation!!

DJJ’s Registered Dietitian Vanessa LeMire challenged the kitchens at each of the detention facilities across the state to come up with unique Halloween meal themes for the youth to enjoy on Halloween. The kitchens responded and came up with some pretty creative menu items including Mummy Dogs (from Pasco RJDC), eyeball pasta (from Pinellas RJDC) and spooky cookies (from Southwest RJDC). 

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremonies

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) at Broward College and Hillsborough Community College who graduated October 25th and October 28th. The detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they wait for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Central Region Director for Detention Services Frank Gargett and Superintendent Johnathan Hackley, Broward Regional Detention Center, for delivering the graduation addresses at the JDO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultant Denise Cannon and Learning Consultant Kiva Hagans for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Broward College Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Tya Denefield – Bay RJDC, Gaove Abdon – Escambia RJDC, Krystal Parden – Escambia RJDC, Contrilla Chambers – Bay RJDC

Second Row:  Troy Berry Sr. – Okaloosa RJDC, David Mack – Bay RJDC, De’Anthony Tuner – Leon RJDC, John Jones – Escambia RJDC, Carissa Davis – Leon RJDC

Third Row: Ciara Dotson – Volusia RJDC, Michael Banks II – Escambia RJDC, LaTrena Whitehurst – Escambia RJDC, Brooke Boyd – Okaloosa RJDC, Alexander Ryberg – Escambia RJDC

Hillsborough Community College Graduates

Ground: Kevin Brown - Manatee RJDC, Nicholas Herd - Hillsborough RJDC

Front Row (Left to right):  Taj Dorsey - Pinellas RJDC, Charles Newton - Manatee RJDC, Dominique Williams - Hillsborough RJDC, Everton Stephenson - Manatee RJDC, Charles Edwards - Hillsborough RJDC, Dominic Yacca - Manatee RJDC

Back Row:  Dean Swart - Manatee RJDC, Justin Morency - Pinellas RJDC, Joshua Quinones - Pinellas RJDC, Stephen Corey - Hillsborough RJDC, George Damas - Manatee RJDC, Jamar Pigott - Pinellas RJDC, Jared Hamilton- Pinellas RJDC

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) at Valencia College, Florida Public Safety Institute and Collier Regional Detention Center who graduated November 4th. The detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they wait for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Operations and Program Manager Monica Gray, Central Region detention services, and Director Jeff Wenhold, North Region detention services and Acting Chief Vincent Vurro, South Region detention services, for delivering the graduation addresses at the JDO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultant Bernard Smith and Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace, Adjunct Instructor Sarah Bechtel and Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Valencia College Graduates

Standing Row (Left to right):  Roy Howie -Brevard RJDC, Neyurka Davis – Orange RJDC, Marcus Jefferson – Orange RJDC, Rivera Tillman - Orange RJDC, Joshua Carson - Seminole, Ronald Gomez – Orange RJDC, Luis Cano – Orange RJDC, Estanislao Perez - Seminole, Juan Claudio – Orange RJDC

Kneeling Row:  Jean Delia – Orange RJDC, Jacqueline Mims – Orange RJDC, Oritsegbubemi Ndze-Williams – Orange RJDC, Mark Thomas – Orange RJDC

FPSI Graduates

Front Row (Left to right): Frantzdy Florrisant – St. Lucie RJDC, Kristine McIrvin – Escambia RJDC, Goodson Francois – St. Lucie RJDC, Cicely Charles – Marion RJDC, Gabrielle Sims – Escambia RJDC

Middle Row:  Rashod Byers – Duval RJDC, Terrance Hills – Volusia RJDC, Bobby White – Escambia RJDC, Rachel Hunt – Okaloosa RJDC, Cana Oliver – Alachua RJDC, Geordany Joseph – Leon RJDC

Back Row:  Demetrius Pigford – Leon RJDC, Beniques Petithome – St. Lucie RJDC, Anders Caratozzolo – Alachua RJDC, Sherryiyan Carswell – Volusia RJDC, Wayne Porter – St. Lucie, Danielle Hayes – Escambia RJDC

Collier RJDC Graduates

Front Row (Left to right): V. Buitrago – SW FL RJDC, T. Legros – Collier RJDC, R. Perez-Harnarain – Collier RJDC, R. Sainval – Collier RJDC, N. Rivera – Collier RJDC, D. Miller – Collier RJDC, P. Outten – SW FL RJDC, A. Minnis – Learning Consultant Manager

Back Row:  R. Tobias – SW FL RJDC, L. Williams – Collier RJDC, M. Teal – SW FL RJDC, T. Marshall – Collier RJDC, T. Christopher – SW FL RJDC, G. Wallace – SW FL RJDC, E. Kelly – SW FL RJDC

Probation Update

Please help me welcome Lut Clarcq as the new Assistant Chief Probation Officer for Circuit 20, serving Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. Lut brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position. She started with the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2002 and while working in the Office of Probation and Community Intervention she has held positions as juvenile probation officer, a senior JPO, and a supervisor.  Lut came to the United States on her 21st birthday and began transitioning in the westernized world and acquired her U.S. citizenship in 2005. Lut has earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and her master’s degree in Criminal Justice.

On October 27, probationary youth Branden Dale and Johnathan Rodriguez from the Eckerd Project Bridge Program attend the Youth for Christ Mentor Day. They enjoyed a healthy breakfast with their mentors followed by a game of basketball. The mentors helped the two young men recognize and choose healthy environments for spiritual, mental and physical development by cultivating positive relationships. 

On October 28th, Eckerd Kids Project Bridge hosted a Halloween event for youth in Brevard County. Youth enjoyed music, desserts and pizza.  At the same time, youth, staff and mentor Pittershawn Palmer took part in a community service event designing birthday cards to provide to the Foundation for Foster Children.  Each month the Foundation mails out handmade birthday cards to children in foster care within Central Florida. Having a handmade card gives a personal touch that can bring a smile to a child’s face.  

Circuit 7 probation staff set up an information booth during the Ancient City Kids Day on October 20 in St. Augustine. This day of free family fun was organized by EPIC, a mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment facility, as well as other non-profit organizations.

Our probation officers were onboard to entertain and hand out education material and of course candy to the youth. With the city facing so many challenges with flooding and widespread power outages due to Hurricane Matthew, this free event helped to lift spirits and provide families with healthy and necessary distractions. The event featured games, crafts, arts, live entertainment, and nonprofit resources. There where police cars, fire trucks, helicopters, and marine rescue boats all on showcase.

I am pleased to share the following success story of Mark Jimenez who was under the care of Circuit 20 JPO Krista Cochran. Mark recently completed and graduated from a voluntary residential treatment program in Fort Myers. Mark worked incredibly hard to overcome addiction which was evident in his willingness to complete the voluntary treatment program after 10.5 months. Cochran said, “As JPOs we want to see kids make changes quickly yet forget that change takes time with juveniles. They need that consistent support and encouragement from those around them when making changes and sometimes we as JPOs are the only consistent person in that child’s life. However, that was not the case for Mark. He has a very strong support system of family and myself, his JPO. Mark’s success and journey with DJJ and SalusCare has reminded me not only as a JPO, but as a person, to have patience.”

Before the graduation ceremony, Mark wrote JPO Cochran the following short essay.

What I have learned from the program and some changes I have made:

I will start with what I have learned; a lot. And, I changed for the better. I have learned a new way of living then using drugs and alcohol. I have learned how to cope with my anger a lot and how to think before I act. I have gained so much insight about who I want to be in life. I would never see myself having the opportunities I have now. I am able to see my family, laugh and enjoy seeing them. Honestly, this program has shown me how to love my life and be aware of my surroundings.

I have made a lot of changes by opening up with my family. Also, I have found how much I was hurting myself and my family. I have now started to ask for help and not just act shy. Two things I have learned that really made me get my act together is when a wise man once told me the two most important things I will never forget; “A closed mouth will never get fed” and that if you continue to be hard headed, you’re going to end up in places you don’t want to be. Learning these things has made me change not only my physical self, but also my mindset.

Probation staff from Circuit 7 participated in the 12th Annual Health and Human Services Summit on October 28 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. This event included various training opportunities which were presented by 80 different service providers.  They shared information regarding the existence of and how to access the many services available to our youth, families and the community as a whole.  

I am pleased to share the following letter that was sent to the Circuit 5 probation team in Marion County from the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform in Washington, D.C. The letter thanks the team for their implementation of the Crossover Youth Practice Model. It reads:

On behalf of CJJR,

I want to say the team in Marion Co. is nothing short of amazing. Your commitment to doing the model and doing it right for the sake of young people in your community is to be commended. I can't wait to hear how Day One went. I am sure there will be wrinkles along the way but am confident in your team’s ability to iron them out. Kudos on Day One of Implementation.

Circuit 13 Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney answered questions related to DJJ reform efforts during a community forum meeting at the Rock Church of God by Faith in Tampa on October 27. The meeting was hosted by the Northeast Community Civic Association and their President Joe Barnum, who is a retired detention superintendent and former juvenile probation officer.

The forum was requested by Eckerd Kids for faith-based help for families in that area. The panel consisted of Jennifer Kuhn (Department of Children and Families), Jennifer Hock (Hillsborough County Sheriff Office CPI Division), Jody Grutza (Eckerd Kids), Tabitha Lambert (Guardian Ad Litem), and Kelley Parris (Children’s Board).

Probation staff in Circuit 15 would like to thank the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of Palm Beach Gardens for their generous donation towards a 60” television and over $600 worth of undergarments for the juvenile assessment center in West Palm Beach. The youth that have been taken into custody by law enforcement and brought to the juvenile assessment center for screening and processing will be given an opportunity to watch educational programs that will be geared towards reducing juvenile delinquency and provide vital information on the judicial process while they are waiting to be assessed. This donation will assist with reducing youth stress while also providing clean clothing when necessary that is theirs to keep.

CPO Jill Wells and Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson from Circuit 9 served as panelists during a town hall meeting at the Frontline Outreach Family and Youth Center on October 27. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss crime, violence, guns and safety in the community and solutions to address these issues. Additional panelists included Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams, Orange County Corrections Chief Cornita Riley, Public Defender Robert Wesley, and Captain McMullen from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The meeting was sponsored by Commissioner Samuel B. Ings, City of Orlando District 6, and Paulette Edwards, Executive Director of Frontline Outreach Family and Youth Center. 

Education and linkage to resources are key ingredients for a successful youth in transition programming.  Twin Oaks Juvenile Development’s HP Computers-In-Transition program, delivered through the Project Connect transition program, has facilitated the donation of over 50 computers over the past 3 years to deserving youth who have demonstrated both the need for the computer and responsibility in maintaining it properly and safeguarding it. 

Recently in Circuit 4, youth DB was awarded an HP laptop for doing just that.  DB attends all GED Prep classes at Florida State College at Jacksonville and is scheduled to take the GED in all areas in December.  He has used the laptop to complete academic assignments, conduct job searches, conduct employability skills training, and receive online tutoring at home.  DB gained employment as a ticket scanner at EverBank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, while participating in Project Connect and uses the laptop to sign up for events that he can work, submit his timecard and receive important email’s from his supervisor.  The laptop has greatly enhanced youth DB’s success as it has given him freedom in both his academic and employment choices.  Congratulations to youth DB, his Circuit 4 Lead Transition Specialist, Robin Lane-Jenkins (pictured) and all other past HP Computers-In-Transition awardees!

Residential Update 

Meet Rex. 

He’s the newest canine resident of the Hillsborough Girls Academy (HGA), a secure program for girls, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  Rex is a nine-month-old Standard Poodle puppy that arrived at the program on a Friday in mid-October.  According to Facility Administrator Robbin Berry, Rex is one of the trainees from Kids and Canines, which will provide training staff to work with HGA so that Rex will have a successful transition into the HGA setting and a successful stay.

Three girls at the program applied for “employment” and were accepted as Kids and Canines trainers.  They will have the responsibility of Rex’s care and training.  In addition to completing an application, the students must meet and maintain the minimum requirements of the Kids and Canines program—as well as passing a risk assessment—in order to work with Rex.  The application to be a puppy trainer looks the same as a standard job application and asks the same questions.  Additionally, the girls must maintain a “C” or above in all school subjects and maintain pro-social behaviors while in the HGA program.  In order to be accepted initially, the applicant had to have 30 days of pro-social behaviors and four positive treatment team meetings prior to being interviewed for the job.  Rex has a rigorous daily schedule to which each girl must adhere.  While they are in school, he stays in the administration office.  When they get out of classes, Rex and his puppy trainers go to work learning what he needs to know.

Kids and Canines works with youth, teaching them how to train assistance dogs.  The bond between the student and the dog helps the youth succeed and then the dog goes on to have a productive working life, providing independence to individuals with disabilities.  Kids and Canines provides trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities and children with autism throughout central Florida.  The dogs also change the lives of the students, who learn to care for, groom, and train the dogs.

All costs associated with Rex and his care are covered by Kids and Canines.  For the first week, two trainers from Kids and Canines were onsite daily for a week to help the girls learn how to take care of Rex and how to train him for service.  Afterward, the trainers return onsite two or three times a week to teach the girls how to train Rex for his future responsibilities.  In addition to learning basic obedience commands, before he graduates Rex will learn more than 60 commands to perform tasks that are specific to the needs of his future partner.  Some of those commands are:

  • Squish – to provide physical comfort to a child with autism.
  • Car – it’s time to get into a vehicle.
  • Hold – to grip an item in his mouth.
  • Push – to close an open a door or cabinet.
  • Nose It – to push a button or switch.

The residents of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, prepared last week for a Halloween party.  The residents each made their own masks and posters to decorate the facility.  Even the staff members got into it.  Shown below is Jessica Dowdell wearing her mask.  Shown right in the blue shirt is Mr. King, making his mask alongside the residents.

As part of its community collaboration and restorative justice efforts, Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA)—a secure program for males, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC—partnered with the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital to celebrate Halloween with the hospital’s patients. 

Residents of PBYA designed and created custom-made Dr. Seuss bookmarks for the Dr. Seuss-themed Halloween Parade Party sponsored by the hospital for its patients.  Additionally, the PBYA staff passed out stuffed animals to the patients who participated in the event.  Shown here in a blue shirt and a Dr. Seuss Cat-in-the-Hat hat is PBYA Community Liaison Peggy Laguerre.