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Secretary's Message

December 19, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

During the holiday season, we come together with our friends and loved ones, give and receive gifts, reflect on the past year and ponder what the new year will bring. It is during this time more than ever that we are filled with goodwill and cheer and it is my sincere hope that the warmth and goodness of this holiday season carry over into and throughout our coming year.   

It is in this holiday spirit that I would like to say thank you for being a part of our DJJ family. Whether you are a staff member, provider, partner, or friend, the successes we have achieved this year could not be possible without you.  I would like to wish each of you a joyous holiday season and an abundance of peace, joy, and prosperity in the coming year. 


Christina K. Daly

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Meeting

On Monday, I attended the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting at the Capitol. On the agenda for the meeting was an update from the Cabinet’s Policy Impact Committee Chair Judge Sandy Karlan regarding legislative priorities and the Cabinet’s proposed action plan. The meeting also included an update from the Cabinet’s Technology Workgroup and presentations from The Children’s Trust and the Broward County Children’s Services Council.

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

Youth In Custody Practice Model

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Residential Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Probation Paul Hatcher, and Director of Research and Data Integrity Mark Greenwald attended the Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM) Initiative Core Leadership Team Meeting in Destin. The YICPM is administered by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) from Georgetown University. The CJCA and CJJR provides participating agencies with 18 months of training and technical assistance to align core, research-based principles with everyday practice, and achieve more positive outcomes for youth, families, staff and communities. Florida is one of just four sites in the nation recently selected to participate in the YICPM.

Pictured left: Mikel Currie, program director at Okaloosa Youth Academy; Michael Umpierre, consultant, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators; Michele Deitch, consultant, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators

RED Conference

On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann Chief Research and Data Officer Mark Greenwald, and I attended the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) Conference in Orlando. The event was hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Office of State Courts Administration, and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. I was pleased to give the introductory remarks to the attendees and spoke to the Department’s efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. The event gave a history and strategies for addressing RED, how to confront and counter impact bias, and data-driven reforms to address disparities.  

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

The Town of Cutler Bay’s After-School Program, a DJJ prevention provider, was recognized by the Advocacy Network on Disabilities “All Children Together,” project for their progress on the Inclusion Readiness Tool (IRT). The IRT is used to help organizations determine their readiness to provide quality services to children with disabilities.

The Town of Cutler Bay currently serves approximately 200 youth annually through the after-school and summer camp programs. Program staff attended a series of hands-on training and lectures to increase capacity and awareness when working with children with disabilities. The program has now reached step 2 of 5 of the IRT where staff completed training and adopted policies and procedures to meet the needs of disabled kids in the community and their parents.

In the above photo, Donna Wade (left), Senior Inclusion Specialist, The Advocacy Network on Disabilities; and Shirley Harari, Youth Program Coordinator, Town of Cutler Bay.

“I am proud of the improvements that I have seen in our After-School Program. Staff training and development is one of the keys to success for any program. To see our Town actively working towards our goal of providing the best care to all children that we possibly can is encouraging,” said Mayor Peggy Bell.

The Town’s After-School Program is funded in part by The Children’s Trust and DJJ. The program provides youth ages 6-12 with free after-school care at Cutler Ridge Park. The Advocacy Network on Disabilities is a coalition of family members, community service providers, advocates, individuals with disabilities, and other public, private and governmental organizations.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, SMA Supervisor Chantelle Dishman, Procurement Specialist Melba Floyd, GOC II Jean Hall, Financial Coordinator Cheryl Howard, Contract Liaison Aaron Matthews, Prevention Assistant Cheryl Robinson, Budget Assistant Sharee Thomas, and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington volunteered during the 2016 AAU National Cross Country Championship on December 3 at the Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

The championship was for males and females up to 18 years old, with the youngest division being 6 years old and younger, running long distance (1K – 5K). This event had a total of more than 1000 young athletes and their families from many places nationally and internationally participating. Some of the responsibilities of the Prevention staff members was to help the flow of the race by manning the start lines, greeting the visitors and collecting parking fees at the front gate, collecting toys and monetary donations for a toy drive, and many other tasks as needed. The toys were donated to the Children’s Center at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.

In the above photo, (left to right), Sharee Thomas, Chantelle Dishman, Aaron Matthews, Onazina Washington, and Alice Sims.

DJJ staff including Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington, and GOC II Trevor Gilmore from DJJ Prevention and Victim Services, and CPO David Cornuet, Reform Specialist Sam Lyons, JPOs Darylin Adedbayi, Brittany Condry, Crystal Williams, Marjorie Anderson, Nate Sims, Richard Jones, Shannon Ashley from the Circuit 2 probation office recently participated in the 4th Annual MY FEST Florida event in Kleman Plaza in Tallahassee. MY FEST is a free music, art, entertainment and youth empowerment festival designed to inspire and empower young people while sharing information and resources that can help youth and families overcome challenges and achieve their goals and dreams.

In the above photo, from left to right: Onazina Washington, III; JPOs Darylin Adedbayi, and Brittany Condry; Trevor Gilmore, Prevention; Chief Probation Officer Dave Cornuet; Verla Lawson-Grady, Community Engagement Coordinator; Reform Specialist, Sam Lyons; JPO Crystal Williams, and JPO Marjorie Anderson.

The event was sponsored by Magellan Complete Care and was designed to inspire youth who have experienced issues with mental health, substance abuse, foster care and/or other challenges.

Through My Life Tallahassee monthly events held at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center, My Fest was developed as a positive venue to allow youth and their families to relax, enjoy and be entertained by local artists.

There were a number of partners participating at this event, including the Florida Department of Children & Families, Vocational Rehabilitation, Family Café, Tallahassee Community College STEM Program, Leon County Schools, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Tallahassee Police Department. More than 500 people attended this event.

Chief of Policy Development and Planning Marcus Smith and Gainesville Police Chief and State Advisory Group member Tony Jones attended the 2016 National DMC Conference sponsored by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice December 4-6 in Baltimore, Maryland. The event, co-hosted by the Maryland State Advisory Group, focused on "Confronting the Crisis: Creating Pathways to a More Equitable Juvenile Justice System.”

Sessions explored what other communities can learn from Baltimore; the role of state and local entities; how communities can take action and gain buy-in for true change; and the importance of youth engagement. Major sponsors included Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Open Society Institute-Baltimore, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  

The PACE Center for Girls of Broward County took part in the FLIPANY Girls Thrive Program at their facility. Engaged in an exciting partnership with FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth), the girls at PACE Broward have begun a 12-week curriculum to understand how healthy eating and cooking, physical activity, and positive behaviors can improve all around health.

In addition to cooking with a trained culinary instructor, the girls have an opportunity to meet with a registered dietician, physical activity instructor and behavioral specialist. The girls enjoy working closely with the Thrive team in their newly remodeled kitchen to create healthy and delicious dishes.

Detention Update 

I am pleased to share these pictures of the new mural at the Miami-Dade RJDC. It was designed and constructed by well-known muralist Jules Muck. Jules was recently on a country-wide tour painting murals in numerous states. The tour began in her hometown of Venice, California and ended at the Art Basel Festival in Miami. During her stay in Miami, Jules met our facility Chaplain Eric Robinson who convinced her to paint the mural at the facility. Jules felt the need to give this mural to our youth and requested the youth help in completing it. The interpretation of the mural is to break the chains of whatever may be holding them back.

The Palm Beach RJDC recently made renovations to their dining hall as they have upgraded the tables for the youth to eat their meals. Staff members celebrated the renovations by making the dining hall festive for the holiday season. 

South Florida artist Bonnie Gantnier volunteered her time and talents at the Manatee RJDC as she painted a beautiful sea life mural in the dining hall of the facility. Gantnier specializes in painting murals and states that she loves to paint big. The mural gives the facility a softer look in accordance with our trauma informed care practices. To see more pictures of the mural you can visit Bonnie’s website at www.artpapp.com


Youth from the Brevard RJDC have gotten into the festive spirit as they held a holiday decorating party at their facility. The youth transformed one of their mods into a festive atmosphere just in time for the holidays. 

On December 14, youth from the Broward RJDC held their mod decorating party at the facility. Each mod was given a box with holiday decorations and the staff members were encouraged to participate. Juvenile Court Judge Stacy Ross came by to judge the mod presentations along with our facility heads. The girls mod, seen left took home top honors this year. 

Last week, the Palm Beach RJDC held their Christmas celebration. The cafeteria at the facility was transformed into a winter wonderland café and thanks to the help of detention staff members, probation officers and volunteers, this party transformed into one eventful night. The party was hosted by two very talented youth, LM and TB who both did an outstanding job and kept the audience on edge wanting more.

The party was attended by various judiciary members including Circuit Judge Kathleen Kroll, Circuit Judge James Martz, Judge Alvarez as well as Chief Tonge and Chief Eahn from the Public Defender’s Office. In addition, Manny and Peggy Laguerre from Sequel Youth Academy and Bonnie Jo Daniels from the Hope House were also in attendance, as well as Mz. Millionaire Alicia James and Reggie D from X102.3 who served as the special guests.

The Palm Beach RJDC would like to thank their supporters Action Labor, St. Patrick's Church, Olive Garden, Publix, the Juvenile Justice Board, and the Palm Beach food service staff.

Superintendent Dedilia Finlayson from the St. Lucie RJDC organized a pajama party for the girls at the facility. Our young ladies were allowed to dress up in their favorite pajamas and sleep on mattresses together in the girl’s mod. Each one on of these young ladies had a fantastic time. 

Probation Update

Recently, the blood donation  “Big Red Bus” was parked outside of the service center for Eckerd’s Project Bridge program in Fort Pierce and it peaked the interest of one of the youth, KC. Project Bridge staff encouraged her to research about the mission of the bus and she learned that it was to enhance the health and well-being of others through blood stem products and facilitating scientific research. She also discovered that there are different blood types and some are commonly rare.  It was explained that during disasters and other unfortunate life threatening events that individuals may need to receive blood to assist them with recovery.  As she reflected on past events that have occurred in her family’s history, she decided that she wanted to help and make a difference.  KC, who was hesitant of being stuck by a needle, declared that she wanted to start out doing the right thing as an adult and graciously gave a blood donation. 

On Veterans Day, The Home Builders Institute (HBI) Orlando Career Centers for Youth and Veterans, Eckerd Kids Project Bridge, and The Mission Continues 1st Platoon Orlando visited our friends at Crossroads Corral - an organization that provides Equine Assisted Therapy and learning activities for active military members and veterans who suffer from PTSD, as well as youth and women who have suffered trauma and neglect.

For this impactful day of service, titled Project Equine Uplift, the group teamed up with Team Depot to build shade structures, install exhaust/ceiling fans, upgrade a restroom, install lights to their therapy ring, build planter boxes and build/paint fences to ensure that Crossroads Corral can provide an outstanding Equine Therapy experience to our community. Together, they transformed this horse barn and improved the living conditions of the horses and helped Crossroads Corral better serve local veterans and their families.

Project Equine Uplift really was a celebration of service. They all gave back to veteran-related causes and honored those who have served and fought for our country’s freedom and peace. Thank you to those who served and continue to serve.

Eckerd Project Bridge youth and staff members partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orlando on November 29 to help give food to those less fortunate. The team volunteered in the factory warehouse assisting with sorting and packaging food for needy children and families for holiday donations.  In just three hours of service, the group helped package a roundabout amount of 9,479 pounds of food which can feed over 4,500 Families through Central Florida. 

Circuit 16 Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson presented a segment on risky situations and observing one’s surroundings during the monthly meeting of the Success Thru Empowerment Program on December 10 at the Bethel AME Church in Key West. In addition, Key West High School’s Resource Officer Clark was on hand to speak to STEP youth regarding their choices and consequences. The STEP program, led by Pastor Antonio Magwood from Bethel, is designed to keep youth informed and plugged in while providing them with tools and giving them opportunities to bridge the gap with authority figures in their community. This program also provides a great opportunity for positive peer contacts.

Circuit 4 Reform Specialist and Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Justice Fellow Donna Clayton recently attended a juvenile drug court event at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Youth who were ordered to the court along with JDC case managers, River Region counselors, Reclaiming Future Grant Fellows, and members of the public defender’s office met at the stadium for a behind the scenes look at Jacksonville’s home to the Jaguars. The VIP tour was arranged by Program Specialist Judy Cotton from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and gave these youth access to areas that only the owner, staff and players are privileged to.

In the above photo, from left to right is:  Jerald Helm (River Region Counselor), P. Justiniano (Public Defender), Jennifer Russell (JDC case worker), Darrell Brown (JDC case worker), Donna Clayton (Reform Specialist), and Judy Cotton (MADD Program Specialist)

BAYS Florida hosts its annual meeting to recognize their team members who work so hard throughout the year. They don’t often have the opportunity to all be together due to having offices all across the state of Florida, so this time together is valuable. The meeting is a time for everyone to really experience the difference they are making each day by working to empower youth and families to be successful.

While the annual meeting is fun and festive, BAYS Florida never loses focus of the main goal. BAYS Florida observes the needs of different populations and collaborative partners in Florida’s communities throughout the year and each year they choose one provider that would benefit from donations. BAYS Florida then encourages all employees to help in contributing to this need.

This year BAYS Florida chose PACE Center for Girls to be the recipient of our staff donations. BAYS Florida works closely with PACE Center for Girls on a regular basis. We understand that the youth served by PACE face a unique set of challenges. The employees for BAYS Florida were enthusiastic to donate items for PACE youth including skin care, hygiene products, cosmetics, school and art supplies. BAYS staff members filled several boxes with donations which were distributed to PACE Center for Girls offices across the state.

BAYS Florida is proud of our team members who continue to work every day towards honoring our mission and vision.  

Residential Update

In the past few weeks, DJJ has offered five Impact of Crime (IOC) specialized facilitator trainings via three webinars:  Nov. 29 (for the North Region), Nov. 30 (for the North and Central Regions), and Dec. 5 (for the South Region).  There were more than 40 participants in the webinars, which were designed for residential commitment program clinical directors, IOC group facilitators, and those who provide IOC data entry in the Evidence Based Services (EBS) Module of the Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS). 

The IOC specialized webinar provided direction and support for frequently asked questions, regarding IOC in meeting the fidelity requirements of the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) and the Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) standards.  The webinar was interactive with participants posting questions that facilitated discussion and clarification in a group forum.  

Research Analyst Katherine Gomez provided valuable information regarding SPEP and the importance of meeting the duration of 16 weeks and recommended number of contact hours for IOC educational programming, which must be entered for each youth in the JJIS EBS Module before the youth is released from the residential commitment program.  Office of Residential Services Trainer Vanessa Wicker Reeves reinforced the importance of providing quality service in the IOC curriculum and provided updates on the curriculum.  Office of Residential Services SMA-II Garrett Tucker discussed and reviewed the fidelity monitoring process for the curriculum. 

For more information about IOC, please contact Vanessa Wicker Reeves at (850) 717-2536, or by email:  Vanessa.Wicker@djj.state.fl.us

As part of its animal therapy/puppy program, Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA), a secure program for males, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently turned over a second set of puppies for adoption who will now be going to their forever homes.  The program is a partnership with The Pixel Fund, which is operated entirely by volunteers with headquarters in Southern Maine and a satellite office in Geneva, Florida.

The organization relies on a dedicated network of fosters and rescue partners to pull pets to safety from high kill shelters, get them healthy and ready for adoption, and to help find them their forever homes.  The animal therapy/puppy program at PBYA rescues puppies from local shelters and the youth in residence provide basic training to the dogs, while ensuring they receive all of their puppy vaccinations and become socialized with humans. 

Pictured with PBYA residents who participate in the program is Janet Williams, the local leader of The Pixel Fund.  Before receiving a new pair of puppies for training, PBYA program staff and clinicians will take a few weeks to work with the residents in evaluating lessons learned from this second pair of puppies.  The program continues to be very well received by the residents and staff.

PBYA has partnerships with other community organizations, like the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.  For Veteran’s Day, residents of PBYA made greeting cards for those veterans in the hospital and the program donated 25 packs of playing cards for the veterans to enjoy during their hospital stays.

Just before Thanksgiving, the School District of Palm Beach County in partnership with PBYA hosted an honor roll assembly, recognizing those students who earned the distinction of making the school district’s A/B Honor Roll.  Additionally, three PBYA residents who were scheduled to return home soon were recognized and honored for earning a GED® or high school diploma.  In total, nine students were recognized for these achievements.

Martin Girls Academy (MGA), a secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, has entered into a 13-week partnership with StarStruck Productions, a local not-for-profit dance company, to provide a 13-week hip-hop class for program residents.  The instructor leads a high-energy class.  In addition to learning hip-hop, the MGA residents enjoy a fun way to exercise and create better health.  Before beginning each dance lesson, the students perform stretches that are specific to the dance moves they will learn—such as those shown in the following photos.

Dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels.  Two recent studies show how different types of practice allow dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory and “proprioception” held in the cerebellum.  Through regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week, anyone can maximize his or her brain function. 

[SOURCE:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/why-is-dancing-so-good-your-brain]

Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, hosted a graduation ceremony for five residents—four of whom earned the GED® and one who earned the standard high school diploma. 

Parents, staff, and educators celebrated this momentous occasion with the graduates who donned cap and gown and were recognized for their positive accomplishments.  The feedback from parents and staff was remarkable.  In speaking with some of the youth, they never thought they would accomplish anything like this.  They mentioned the incredible support they received, specifically from the staff of the Broward County Schools System. 

Additionally, all five young men are enrolled in college; one received the Broward College Get REAL (Ready for Education And Learning) scholarship, which is designed to help students, ages 17 to 24, who are out of school due to economic, health, or social reasons.  Each scholarship recipient receives tuition assistance, career support, advisors, goal-based financial incentives, and job placement assistance upon degree completion. 

If that wasn’t remarkable enough, two of the young men are now employed and a third graduate recently received a job offer from Nike.  Having these young men graduate from high school gives them much better opportunities to succeed after residential commitment.

Special thanks go to Program Director Latoya Jackson-Singletary and her staff, as well as Broward County Schools for all of the hard work they put into preparing these students to transition back into their communities. 

Recently, residents of Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, attended the 3rd Annual Mario Butler Foundation Football and Cheer Camp at Stanton College Preparatory High School.  The camp hosted more than 400 youth from the Jacksonville area who participated in individual drills and exercises led by former and current NFL players. This is the second year that JYA students attended the Mario Butler Football Camp. 

JYA residents also attended the Carpenter's House Church of God in Christ three-day Bible School.  As shown below, the youth engaged in interactive bible study lessons, learn worship songs and dances and participate in sports activities. 

Students of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, participated in a CPR and First Aid class where they learned life-saving skills by using mannequins and teaching devices such as those shown in these photos.

Additionally, nine Duval Academy students were rewarded for their behavioral and treatment goals with an outing to the Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville where they enjoyed the Navy Vs. Notre Dame football game. 

The Duval Academy Advisory Board helped the youth make Thanksgiving baskets, which were distributed to local needy families.  The boys decorated the boxes and filled them with the donated food items.