Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

December 6, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Now that the Thanksgiving break has concluded, DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders are back and busy working hard to better the lives of our state’s children and families. As you take a moment to read our newsletter, I am sure that you will be inspired by the many stories this week of our staff’s generosity not only for our youth but towards their colleagues. Whether it be our staff that volunteered and donated food to needy families or staff that came together to contribute and prepare Thanksgiving meals for youth, families, and fellow team members, I am awestruck by the kindness and graciousness of our DJJ family. I look forward to hearing and reading about more of your good deeds in the future. Thank you again for always making me proud and for representing our team in such a compassionate and positive way.

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

JJSIP Update- American Society of Criminology Presentation

A multidisciplinary team of DJJ staff members presented at the American Society of Criminology (ASC) 72nd Annual Meeting in New Orleans, which is held primarily for criminal justice and criminologist educators, criminal justice practitioners, and researchers. 

Office of Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Residential Services Chief Policy & Programming Meg Bates, and SPEP Coordinator/ Research Analyst, Office of Research & Data Integrity Katherine Gomez served on a panel for the thematic session titled “Connecting Research to Practice Using the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP™):  Improving Juvenile Justice Outcomes.”  Their presentation specifically addressed “SPEP™ in Florida:  Assessing Changes in Social Skills for Juveniles in a Residential Setting.”  SPEP™ is an integral part of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) reforms that were initiated in 2011, to determine the extent to which programs are providing evidence-based services to youth.

Shown left: Laura Moneyham and Katherine Gomez presenting at the ASC Conference.

The panelists gave a history of SPEP™ development for Florida’s residential commitment programs.  The presenters linked the relationship of the programmatic SPEP™ results to the successes of the youth who received the measured services—which included SPEP™ quality and dosage requirements—to youth recidivism data.  Based upon the findings of a validation study[1] by Dr. Carter Hay, FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice—which found that 30 percent of the juveniles in the cohort were classified as major improvers on the social skills domain and more likely to use positive social skills to deal with others, deal with difficult situations, deal with emotions, control impulses, and control aggression—the panelists linked SPEP™ implementation and delivery of services to youth in residential programs. 

The next step in Florida’s SPEP™ implementation schedule is to correlate data entered about services delivered to committed youth with recidivism data.  Specifically, DJJ will analyze the data entered for the youth who received the curriculum Impact of Crime:  Addressing the Harm to Victims and Communities.  The Impact of Crime curriculum uses cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of peaceful conflict resolution skills, as well as problem-solving skills.  Impact of Crime is a curriculum that was developed by DJJ and is used as a SPEP™ intervention in 80 percent of residential commitment programs.  The Department also oversees the fidelity of trainer instruction and certification in the delivery of the curriculum.

The hypothesis posed by the panel is that SPEP™ data entered into the Florida Juvenile Justice Information System Evidence Based Services Module that shows a high rate of youth success in the social skills module of the Impact of Crime class will correlate to (1) positive behavioral changes in the program and (2) reduced recidivism one year after those youths are released from residential commitment. 

Shown right:  Dr. Gabrielle Chapman, research associate at Vanderbilt University's Peabody Research Institute, who organized this panel discussion, is shown seated with Laura Moneyham.

DJJ Residential Site Visits with Circuit Judge Robert Long

On Friday morning, I along with Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer David Cornuet facilitated tours for Juvenile Circuit Judge Robert Long of the DOVE Academy and Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment (JUST) programs. The DOVE Academy, located in Graceville, is a residential commitment program for females, ages 15 to 18, who are in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment services. The JUST program in Sumatra, is a residential mental health treatment program for adjudicated males between the ages of 13 and 17. The JUST program provides a comprehensive multi-service delivery system of residential treatment and a full continuum of care with emphasis on outdoor work projects, physical exercise and experiential learning.

These tours were conducted to provide Judge Long a first-hand look at some of our juvenile residential programs and the services they provide for committed youth.

Pictured are: Tony Read, Program Director Project Connect Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.; Donnie Read, CEO Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.; Rocco Cooper, ACPO C-2; Donald Williams, Assistant Program Director JUST/TOVA II; Bobby Long, Circuit Judge C-2; Christy Daly, Secretary DJJ; Donald Lasseter, Program Director JUST/TOVA II; Dave Cornuet, CPO C-2; Lori Jernigan, Deputy Regional Director Residential Services NW; Donald Valentine,  Training Coordinator 

DJJ Staff Chosen to Participate in Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute’s Senior Leadership Program

Congratulations to Residential Services North Regional Director Billy Starke, Jr.!  He was nominated by DJJ and selected by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute (FCJEI) as one of only 30 criminal justice professionals statewide to participate in the Senior Leadership Program (SLP) that begins in January and goes through mid-October.  The program is framed around seven separate weeklong sessions, spaced approximately six weeks apart, with significant reading and an independent research requirement to be completed outside of the program meeting times.  Graduates of SLP are eligible for as many as nine graduate level university credits offered through the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.

To complete the nomination, DJJ’s endorsement had to address (a) the role the nominee is expected to play in the agency, and in the criminal justice profession, in the next three to five years, and (b) the nominee’s potential in each of the following dimensions:  integrity, judgment and decision making, effective communication, interpersonal skills, flexibility, initiative, and risk-taking.  Billy’s endorsement included the following:

Mr. Starke has served the Department of Juvenile Justice in progressively responsible leadership roles for over 30 years.  He currently serves as the North Regional Director for Residential Services which has full operational oversight responsibility for 11 residential commitment programs that serve over 500 youth.  Additionally, he oversees the commitment process for youth from eight [judicial] circuits to programs statewide and works collaboratively with community stakeholders and leadership from Juvenile Probation and Juvenile Detention in each of the circuits to ensure effective communication and understanding of the department’s reform initiatives.  In his capacity as Regional Director, Mr. Starke sets high performance expectations for the programs under his direction.  He utilizes a very effective mix of coaching, teaching and motivational skills to engage the leadership in each of the programs to provide the highest quality treatment services to our youth.

As Regional Director for the North Region he is an integral part of the Residential Leadership Team.  His feedback regarding new initiatives and needed process improvement is always thoughtful and extremely relevant.  As Regional Director he will be serving as a mentor and role model to his subordinates and colleagues that are new to their leadership roles.  Over the next 3-5 years he could very easily transition to an executive leadership role within the department given his leadership skills, and knowledge of operations at all levels of the department.

Mr. Starke already demonstrates the ability to take appropriate risks, make sound judgements and develop initiatives with the programs and staff under his direction.  This leadership program will, however, provide him the targeted tools to further develop his confidence to make data driven decisions and initiate reform on a statewide basis.

Human Trafficking Update

DJJ Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot recently presented at the National Foundation for Women Legislator’s Annual Conference hosted in Orlando, Florida. Bethany was invited to participate as part of a panel assembled and moderated by Shared Hope International to discuss the importance of agencies and service providers having a seat at the table as anti-trafficking legislation is developed.  Bethany presented alongside Survivor Leader and Founder of More Too Life, Dr. Brook Bello and Montana State Representative Kimberly Dudik.  Bethany’s participation in this conference was a great opportunity to showcase the work of our agency in combatting human trafficking in Florida.

Following the panel presentation, Bethany had the opportunity to serve as a table host to assist female legislators from various states in strategizing legislative needs regarding human trafficking as well as how to meet those needs. There were a number of state representatives from Florida in attendance at the event.

On that same day, Bethany attended the press conference hosted by Shared Hope International as they rolled out their 2016 Protected Innocence Challenge that measures how well each state is doing in terms of their legislation to address human trafficking.  Florida received an A grade this year!  Thank you to all of you who work so hard to carry out the great legislation that Florida has put forward to address this heinous crime against our youth.  

Edward Waters College Career Fair

Reform Specialist Donna Clayton, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George and GOC Virgil Wright banded together to attend the Edward Waters College Fair in Jacksonville.

For the past three years, teams from probation and residential have attended the fair to speak to the students about internships and employment opportunities.  The Circuit 4 team has forged a great relationship with Edward Waters College to assist the students and the community.

In the above photo from left to right is: Andria George, Virgil Wright, Donna Clayton

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

Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Budget Assistant Sharee Thomas, Federal Programs Liaison Diamond Ragin and Accountant Doris Strong and several other mentors from the STARS Mentoring Academy accompanied 30 youth at the Florida State vs Boston College football game on November 11 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

The mentees, many participating for the first time, got the full college football experience. All mentees attend Pineview Elementary School, which has been identified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a designated Promise Zone area. The Promise Zone is a federal initiative that joins local businesses, community leaders and community-based organizations to make investments in under-served areas.

Before the game the kids got to walk around the campus, attend the Sod talk and even go on the field. Many DJJ employees are mentors in the STARS Mentoring Academy and the program aligns perfectly with DJJ’s mission to decrease juvenile delinquency through prevention and early intervention services.  

In the above photo (from left to right), Sharee Thomas; Diamond Ragin; Tim Niermann, Deputy Secretary; Doris Strong; and Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary Prevention & Victim Services

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson coordinated a Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conversation at the Buena Ventura Lakes Boys and Girls Club in Kissimmee. The conversation involved eight area high school students and law enforcement officers from the Kissimmee Police Department, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and St. Cloud Police Department.

Among the topics discussed were: the role of law enforcement officers, the role of a youth in the community, misconceptions that members of the community have towards law enforcement officers, how the appearance of the youth may affect how they are treated by law enforcement officers as well as positive and negative perceptions that youth and law enforcement officers have of each other.

Also discussed was the definition of respect and how it can be demonstrated, how to get youth to engage casually with law enforcement officers daily, how to promote trust among youth and law enforcement officers, how the media play a role in the perceptions of law enforcement officers, the body language that officers look for when approaching anyone and things that officers do that aggravate or bother youth in the community.

The youth and the officers truly engaged in the conversation. There was not a dull moment. The young people were not afraid to speak their minds, and tell the officers how they felt when interacting with other law enforcement officers. The officers did an awesome job receiving the criticism that the youth shared, and provided good insight on their job duties and their thoughts on what they would like to see in the community.  Each officer is looking forward to doing this again, and the youth had other friends that they think should come out and participate next time!

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended the Juvenile Welfare Board’s (JWB) 70th anniversary celebration in Clearwater. The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County was founded on the belief that all children deserve to live successful and satisfying lives. JWB was created by the citizens of Pinellas County who collectively said all children matter by investing tax dollars to improve their futures.

JWB works to improve the lives of Pinellas County children. This is done through identifying factors that have a negative impact on youth and meeting those challenges with programs and services that can help children succeed. In addition, JWB advocates for children’s interests. JWB does not provide direct services to children, but contracts with agencies that have specific expertise in the services and programs that are needed.

Pinellas County residents have been making children a priority from the 1940’s to present.  From the early years to present, JWB milestones all add up to one thing - 70 YEARS OF PUTTING CHILDREN FIRST!

In the above photo, Pat McGhee (left) and Judith Warren, Chief Operating Officer, Juvenile Welfare Board.

Budget Assistant Sharee Thomas, Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson, Contract Liaison Aaron Matthews, Federal Grants Liaison Diamond Ragin, Procurement Specialist Shaundra Mitchell and Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin attended Tonier Cain’s first Heeling Neen Conference in Orlando. Tonier “Neen” Cain lived on the streets for 20 years. Years filled with hunger, brutality and constant trauma.

Incarcerated and pregnant in 2004, someone finally took the time to ask: “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

It was at that moment she began her journey to become a survivor, and for the first time in her life began to live with more hope than fear. The impact of trauma is realized by every age group, race, ethnicity, socio-economic group, gender, community, and workforce.

Tonier Cain had a record of 83 arrests and 66 convictions. She has shared her story with organizations including the United Nations, government agencies, teachers, community and civic organizations, mental health agencies, substance abuse programs, corrections facilities and trauma survivors.

She survived a childhood of sexual abuse, violence, and betrayal by systems that were charged with helping those in need. Ms. Cain’s experience illustrates the consequences that untreated trauma has on individuals and society at-large, including mental health problems, addiction, homelessness and incarceration. 

In the above photo (from left to right): Budget Assistant, Sharee Thomas; Federal Grants Manager, Yvonne Woodard; Prevention Specialist, Dionne Anderson; Tonier “Neen” Cain; Contract Liaison, Aaron Mathews; Federal Grants Liaison, Diamond Ragin; Procurement Specialist, Shaundra Mitchell; and Federal Assistant, Gloria Gatlin

The PACE Center for Girls of Volusia and Flagler County recently took part in a community service project for Halifax Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County in Daytona Beach. As part of their regular community service activities, students from the PACE Volusia – Flagler Center located in Ormond Beach laid sod at a soon to be occupied Habitat House. The girls enjoyed the opportunity to help, and the new homeowners will certainly appreciate all of their hard work. Congratulations on a job well done!

Recently, three PACE staff members and nine young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Palm Beach County completed their annual trip to the North Georgia Mountains in Ellijay and Blue Ridge Georgia. In the fall of each year, a trip to the mountains of north Georgia is planned for the girls who excel in the areas of academics, social services, level advancement, and attendance. The incentive trip is an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the girls and to provide them a tangible reward that is a lesson that can be life-changing.

Activities during the trip included traveling to the Amicalola State Park where the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail begins, hiking through the Blue Ridge Mountains, stopping at numerous apple orchards in the area and sampling a variety of the local favorites, visiting Copper Hill, Tennessee where the Georgia-Tennessee state line runs through the center of the town, shopping the historic quaint town of Blue Ridge, and relaxing by the beautiful rapids of the Toccoa River.

Probation Update 

Project Connect, the North Region probation transition provider, recently coordinated with the Children’s Home Society in Pensacola to help youth complete community service hours while serving Thanksgiving meals at the Fricker Center.  

Project Connect youth M.H. (shown left) took full advantage of the opportunity along with other youth from Escambia Boys Base. Project Connect Lead Transition Specialist Penelope Mihas assisted with transportation and Transition Specialist Jonathan Wiggins helped serve guests alongside the youth. It was a very successful event and a refreshing way to expose the youth to service beyond self by helping serve the needy and less fortunate.  

Eckerd Kids Project Bridge is always seeking community partnerships for our youth to give back to their community. A recent community partnership happened in Hillsborough County when Eckerd Kids Project Bride partnered with the Florida Highway Patrol to adopt a highway. 

Youth participated in a safety training and learned the importance of clean roadways and sidewalks.  They were provided with the tools to utilize for street clean ups and learned about appropriate disposal of trash and recyclable items.  Youth put this knowledge into action and completed their first clean up!

Recently, Unit 302 from Circuit 20 Probation conducted their team building by decorating their entire office with Christmas decorations. Unit 302 is based in Central Fort Myers covering a high-crime area in Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres. Unit 302 also recently welcomed three new staff members, JPOs Nathan Blanco, Brad Masternick and Cathy Hillman-Wittwer who are currently undergoing their first phase of training and Weslande Jean-Baptiste, who recently graduated from the JPO Academy. During the activity, staff recognized the importance of team-building, getting to know each other, and enjoyed decorating their office with the help of Christmas music. 

Paxen Community Connections Hillsborough is proud to recognize Ryan Moore for passing hisG.E.D. and with high scores! Ryan is a 16-year-old with a caring heart and an inquisitive mind. Ryan worked with the GED teacher at Paxen with one goal in mind: to obtain his high school diploma. Within 5 months of working diligently and feeling the support, Ryan felt the confidence needed in order to take the practice test and his scores proved he was ready. While waiting to take the test, Ryan would help his other peers with tactics that helped him master fractions, essay writing, and important moments in American history. On his first try and in 2 short days, Ryan passed all 4 sections! Ryan now has goals to attend college to become a nurse practitioner. This professional goal is fitting for someone who is interpersonal, detail-oriented, and compassionate. We look forward to seeing Ryan’s future success!

Recently, Paxen Community Connections Pasco visited the Angelus House and brought some goodies and lots of laughs with them. The Angelus House, which is a non-profit ranch for people with special needs, welcomed the youth into their facility to spend some time with their residents. Since the residents are not able to dress up in costumes and don’t have frequent visitors our youth did reverse trick or treating where they not only gave out treats but also wore costumes! Some of the fun costumes ranged from a giant pumpkin, clown, an old lady and old man, and a big baby to spread some of the Halloween fun. The youth really enjoyed seeing the residents light up during their visit and a future trip for the holidays and community service has already been planned. The director of the facility could not believe how comfortable the youth were interacting with the residents and how caring they were from the beginning. This is a fine example of the true heart that every kid has regardless of their past. 

Paxen Community Connections Pasco visited the local Suncoast Credit Union and met with bankers, financial advisers, and staff to learn the importance of financial literacy and the benefits of banking with a credit union. Youth toured the bank and completed a scavenger hunt to learn about the history of credit unions, important laws that impact the credit unions, and a bit of history about Suncoast Credit Union. This tour served as part of Paxen’s lesson planning that assists youth in preparing for their future. When they look towards goals of attending college, buying their first car, and eventually a home, the bankers instilled that this is only possible if they make wise financial decisions. The youth were very interested in how they can set themselves up for a financially successful future and plans are in place for the credit union’s community enrichment team to meet with the youth for a financial planning series. The youth were also lucky enough to receive some planning materials (and a bag of goodies) for financial goal-planning!

On November 8, the Eckerd Project Bridge team in Circuit 12 partnered with Florida Health in Desoto County in their annual “Creating Families-Week of the Family.” This event opened the door for Eckerd Project Bridge Circuit 12 to schedule a mentoring and volunteer recruitment at the South Florida State College in Desoto County that following week. The team is excited about the beginning of this relationship with South Florida State College and looks forward to the growth and transformation sure to take place in the future. Other stakeholders involved in the event were: Healthy Start, Guardian ad Litem, The Heart Gallery, The Safe Children Coalition, Healthy Families, and WIC.

Probation staff in Circuit 13 participated in the Metropolitan Holiday Tent Drive sponsored by Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa. Our probation staff donated a total of 744 pounds of canned goods and twelve turkeys. The Holiday Tent is a special place where more than 100,000 people from all walks of life, all faiths, all races, different socioeconomic backgrounds can all come together and help one another.  It’s a one-of-a-kind place where you will witness the giving and receiving that exemplifies  community. 

Pictured from the left to the right are: JPO Ken Goss, Secretary Arfinder Johnson, JPO Rickayle Zanders, JPOS Vicki Vance, JPO Joseph Smith and JPOS Jesus Sosa.

Reform Specialist Sam Lyons and JPOs Darylin Adegbayi, Crystal Williams, Janyah Glenn, Alexis Evans and Nate Sims from Circuit 2 participated in the bi-annual Farm Share event at the City Agricultural Grounds in Quincy. As many of you know, Farm Share partners with local retailers and other statewide entities to distribute food to hungry families all over the state of Florida. This event netted over 110,000 pounds of produce to over 2,700 individuals and families in the local community. The Circuit 2 team joined 113 other volunteers to help with the distribution at this event. The team had a lot of fun volunteering their time and energy for such a very beneficial and fun cause. 

The Circuit 9 Probation Office welcomed the Florida Licensing On Wheels (FLOW) mobile unity to their facility on November 16. The FLOW unit assisted ten of our probationary youth in obtaining a state issued ID card. In addition, the mobile unit was also able to assist 2 staff members with obtaining an updated license and registration.  The FLOW staff were extremely helpful and enthusiastic with helping our youth and plans to make a return trip on February 8. 

Detention Update

This week, I am pleased to spotlight the hard work of DJJ’s own Registered Dietitian Vanessa LeMire. Vanessa has without a doubt a challenging job as she oversees food service operations for each of our 21 detention facilities across the state. Each one of these commercial kitchens serves three meals and two snacks each day of the year to anywhere from 20 to 120 youth. This process is difficult and complex. It calls for our kitchen directors to follow food safety regulations and specific menu guidelines all while maintaining a safe working environment and adhering to USDA Child Nutrition Guidelines.

Over the last year, Vanessa has worked diligently to streamline the process which makes things easier for the food service employees. She recently collaborated with Senior Safety Specialist Tommy Blankenship, Deputy Director of Communications Amanda Fortuna and Marketing Specialist Patrick Fargason on the production of a food safety video. The DJJ Food Safety Video outlines proper tips and techniques that keep our kitchen staff safe while operating in a busy kitchen.

In addition, Vanessa has set up a food and nutrition page on DJJ’s Intranet site, which provides food services directors and kitchen staff access to an abundance of information including USDA regulatory updates, temperature logs, recipes, menus, menu changes, inventory spreadsheets to monitor plate cost, numerous templates, service tips, safety tips and surveys. This new web page gives our employees access to this information 24/7 and is constantly updated. The intranet page was created with the help of DJJ Webmaster Walter Gray. Vanessa says that the project could not have been possible without Walter’s expertise and guidance.  

On behalf of the entire agency, and the youth that we serve I want to give a big thank you to Vanessa for all of the great work she is doing to ensure the youth in our detention programs are receiving delicious and nutritious meals in a safe and healthy environment! 

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Capitan Sharon Smith from the Leon RJDC who retired from the Department on November 30, after 30 years of dedicated service. Captain Smith is looking forward to transitioning into retirement and spending lots of time with her grandchildren. She has made such a unique impact on the lives of many of our youth and families that have come through the doors at Leon. Captain Smith dedicated her career to being a mentor and was in some cases a “mom” to many of the staff members at Leon.

On behalf of our entire agency, I would like to thank Captain Smith for her tireless dedication and compassion to the youth, families and DJJ staff over the years and wish her nothing but the best in her retirement.  

Pictured: Captain Smith can be seen seated in between North Regional Director Jeff Wenhold and Major Mark Refour. 

The Orange RJDC recently welcomed guest speaker Mr. Allen Cason to the facility. Cason is one of the surviving members of the Freedom Riders, a group of primarily college students who boarded buses headed towards the Deep South in the 1960’s to challenge the region’s outdated Jim Crow laws. During that time, Mr. Cason was a student at Tennessee State University where he was among the students who led the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins. The youth at the facility really enjoyed hearing Mr. Cason’s first-hand account of history. He can be seen here with Assistant Superintendent Roosevelt Butler and Superintendent Lawrence Palmer

The Orange RJDC also held their holiday luncheon for staff members on November 23. The food for the event was generously donated by Pastor Will Ramirez from the Calvary Chapel Church in Orlando.  Superintendent Lawrence Palmer, seen left with Pastor Ramirez, says that he is thankful for the partners who donate to the facility and for the many relationships built that bridge the gap at Orange RJDC. 

The Marion RJDC held their Thanksgiving luncheon for the youth at the facility and their parents on November 23. The facility welcomed nineteen parents and three JPOs to come and eat with their kids. A special thank you to JJDO II Maria Chandler who graciously paid for all of the parents and youth to eat for free. Both the youth and parents were very appreciative to enjoy this special meal together. 

The kitchen staff at the Pasco RJDC made several festive desserts for the youth over the Thanksgiving holiday. As you can see in the pictures, the staff made turkey decorated rice crispy treats as well a turkey decorated cookies. In addition, the kitchen manager James Vanscyoc paid for seven meals for Pasco staff members on Thanksgiving Day to show his appreciation. The staff were able to eat the same meal that was prepared for the youth on Thanksgiving Day. The staff members truly enjoyed the sentiment! 

The staff from the Miami-Dade RJDC sponsored a food basket and turkey giveaway over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of the youth at the detention center come from struggling families and staff wanted to ensure that they were able to have a hot holiday meal. Several families were not able to come to the detention center to pick up their meals, so the detention staff went directly into the community and delivered the baskets to them. Miami-Dade gave away food baskets to five families which included a turkey and all of the trimmings. 

JJDOS Rhonda Soudat and JJDOs Mary Lardie and Karla Edwards from the Orange RJDC participated in the Florida Classic Career Expo and Diversity Job Fair at the Amway Center on November 18. Our staff members set up a DJJ information booth and spoke about careers within our Department, while explaining the roles that juvenile detention and probation officers play in the lives of Florida's youth. The event was the largest job fair in the entire state of Florida. 

The St. Lucie RJDC welcomed the local Community Outreach Youth Program (COYP) under the direction of Renee Jordan Wyatt for the Thanksgiving holiday. The COYP is dedicated to working with at-risk and under privileged youth in the local community. The program held a concert for the youth at the facility where the young adults from COYP praise danced, performed a Thanksgiving rap and provided a little history for the youth. After the concert, staff members provided the group and the youth with refreshments which included pizza, chips, pumpkin pie and beverages. 

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has concluded, the Miami-Dade RJDC is already looking forward to Christmas as they held a mod decorating contest at the facility. As you can see by the pictures, both the youth and staff members put in a lot of hard work making the facility look festive. 

Residential Update 

Residents of the Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, enjoyed a day out at Velocity Air Sports—Florida’s largest trampoline park—where they jumped on the field of 100 trampolines, played slam-dunk basketball, dove into Olympic swimming pool-sized foam pits, played aerial dodge ball, and tested their endurance and strength on the simulated Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course.  

The residents also work hard when it comes to community service, like the recent assistance they gave to The Potter House International Ministries in making landscaping renovations.  The boys cut grass, pulled weeds, and prepared the grounds for new sod.  

During this quarter, the JYA residents and staff hosted an invitational track meet, which included residents of Orange Youth Academy (OYA) and Hastings Youth Academy who competed in several track and field events, including 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races, relay races, the long jump, and the hammer throw.  The youth who placed first, second, and third received gold, silver, and bronze medals.  After a long day of competition, JYA came out on top, taking first place, while OYA took second place, and Hastings took third.

Friendly competitions at JYA don’t stop with the residents.  Recently, JYA held its inaugural Staff Grill-off Competition.  Participants used their own secret recipes, marinades, and sauces to see who had the best grilled chicken.  After a long day of grilling and test-tasting a lot of chicken, the unanimous winner and “JYA King of the Grill” was Facility Administrator Joseph Shuler, shown (below) holding his trophy.  

Spring Lake Youth Academy (SLYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted in the 2nd Annual Smith Brown Community Foundation Community Day.  The event was filled with fun activities for the whole family.  Activities included a basketball tournament; bakeoff; games/activities, gym tours, a variety of food, a Resource Fair, and a dunking contest.  The youth from SLYA assisted with the games and activities, giving them the opportunity to use their skills in interacting with others positively and building their self-esteem as they helped community youth.  Nearly 600 people attended community day.  This annual event is an opportunity to share aspirations for and learn about the Smith Brown Project and its progress while connecting with community organizations and resources, and having a day of fun with neighbors.

The Smith Brown Community Foundation, Inc. of Arcadia, FL is a youth development organization dedicated to working with the community and local civic organizations in an effort to renovate the Smith Brown facilities into a learning center.  The Center will be used for recreational, educational, cultural, and community events.

The residents and staff of SLYA also held awareness and educational events for National Breast Cancer Awareness and the “Just Say No to Drugs” Ribbon Project.  Led by Clinical Director Mary Wagner, the mental health therapists and education staff worked with the boys to create drug-free and breast cancer awareness displays throughout the facility like the pink ribbon display made up of the boys’ traced hands on pink paper shown in the photo below. 

The Charles Britt Academy (CBA), a non-secure commitment program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, opened its door to more than 60 members of the residents’ families, conducting the program’s first family day under the management of the new contracted provider. 

Guardians and siblings from across the state were welcomed and received tours of the facility.  They were shown the residents’ sleeping quarters and learned about a resident’s day-to-day activities. 

Guardians spoke with CBA’s departmental and administrative staffs, regarding each youth’s progress in the program.  After the tour was complete, family members were treated to a barbecue meal with a live DJ performance before CBA held its Family Day Basketball Game. 

Throughout the course of the day, the boys were reminded of the importance of doing well in their individualized treatment programs so that they can quickly reunite with their families and be successful members of their communities.  

At the end of the day, families were encouraged to complete a survey rating the program’s performance.  Facility Administrator Johnnie Downing reported, “The ratings were through the roof.  It is always an awesome experience to see youth and families come together and truly enjoy each other in such a positive atmosphere.  We look forward to our next family day and feel confident that our youth and families can’t wait either.”

The residents of CBA also enjoyed a recent visit by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman who spoke with the residents and staff members about their importance in society, the benefits of making positive decisions, and asked them how local government can help them.  This was the first time that the mayor visited the program.  The mayor and his staff enjoyed a tour of the facility and the opportunity to interact with CBA residents.  

The Wellness Wire

Below, you will find a link to the December 2016 issue of “The Wellness Wire,” courtesy of the Department of Management Services.

Volume 4 | Issue 12 | December 2016