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Secretary's Message

January 19, 2017

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

Probation Advisory Team Meeting

On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and I were pleased to address the Probation Advisory Team (PAT) as they reconvened for their first bi-annual meeting of the year at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway. The PAT is comprised of three staff members from each circuit including a JPOS, a JPO or SJPO and a personnel member from the administrative support team.  Together the team reviewed ideas they thought would enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Office of Probation and Community Intervention, which benefits the Department, staff and the youth and families we serve.  The team shared ideas, issues, best practices, and possible solutions during the meeting. Regional directors were also on hand for the first day of this two-day meeting and provided great support to our PAT members. The PAT will gather again for their next meeting in July. My thanks to the following DJJ employees who comprise the PAT including: Assistant Secretary for Probation Paul Hatcher, Sonny Peacock, Colisha Thomas, Elizabeth Phillips, Michael Byrd, Alan Hall, Barbara Gallira, Shanea Walk, Theresa Evans, Cindy White, Patricia Arroyo, Kandy Avery, Kistin Bentley, Catherine Bens, Akiria Jones and Ann Marie Campbell.

Pictured (L to R):  JPO Akiria Jones, JPOS Ann Marie Campbell, GOC II Lauren Floyd, SMA-S Sonny Peacock, Statewide Reform Coordinator Elizabeth Phillips, JPOS Cynthia White, AS Paul Hatcher, SS Theresa Evans, JPO Shanea Walk, SJPO Michael Byrd, SS Kandy Avery, JPO Kistin Bentley, AAII Catherine Bens, and JPOS Patricia Arroyo

Annie E. Casey Foundation Seeks Applications for Juvenile Justice Youth Advisory Council

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group (JJSG) is seeking new members of its Youth Advisory Council. Council members will support and contribute to a national juvenile justice reform movement. The ideal candidates are young adults ages 18 to 25 who are interested in strengthening their leadership and advocacy skills as emerging leaders in juvenile justice reform. In addition, they will have lived experience in the juvenile justice system themselves — either currently or formerly (e.g., probation, detention, commitment, residential placement, incarceration and/or aftercare/parole) — and be eager to work in partnership with JJSG to inform and strengthen reform efforts with state and local juvenile justice systems.

Council members’ work includes contributing to the development of a guide on youth engagement for state and local juvenile justice systems. Council members also will give input on publications and other material, participate on panels and deliver presentations and conduct field research related to probation, detention, residential facilities and dispositional decision-making reform, among other roles and responsibilities.

In addition to the criteria referenced above, ideal candidates should have problem-solving and critical thinking skills and a willingness to listen and learn. Strong writing and public speaking skills, political awareness, interpersonal skills and knowledge of JDAI or the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group’s work are a plus.

Members of the Youth Advisory Council are compensated for their time and expected to commit an average of four hours per month toward the Council’s work and professional development opportunities. In addition, council members are expected to attend in-person meetings in Baltimore a minimum of three times per year, which are each scheduled for two full days on a Friday and Saturday, and participate in conferences, such as the 2017 JDAI National Inter-Site Conference. Travel costs are covered by the Foundation.

Council members serve for a two-year term and may be considered for reappointment. To apply, candidates must submit the application form, which requires a personal statement and letters of recommendation, by Friday, January 20, 2017 at 11:59pm ET.

A limited number of candidates will be selected for an interview during the review process. If a candidate is selected for an interview, he or she will be contacted directly. Candidates who are interviewed will be notified of a final decision by the end of February 2017. The full complement of the Council is twelve members who will represent the diverse populations within the juvenile justice system.

Please contact either of the following individuals with any questions about the Youth Advisory Council: Corryne Deliberto, the executive director of Community Law in Action, at corryne@cliayouth.org or 410-706-3875 or Toni Lemons, JJSG program associate, at tlemons@aecf.org or 410-547-3657.

Prevention Update

The Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) in Circuit 2 held a community engagement and youth forum on December 10 at the Lawrence-Gregory Community Center in Tallahassee. The purpose of this forum was to promote safer streets, better communication between youth and law enforcement and to recognize faith and community leaders for their service to our youth. Close to 200 youth and adults attended the upbeat program that was filled with hip-hop dance music, heartfelt testimonies and positive messages to encourage all participants.

Opening remarks were delivered by Circuit 2 CAB Chair Donnie Read, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and the Rev. Rudy Ferguson, Pastor of the New Birth Tabernacle of Praise in Tallahassee. Introductions were conducted by the Rev. Ernie Sims, Circuit 2 Faith Coordinator. Entertainment was provided by the Mighty Ming Life Changers COGIC/Community Based Ministries Incorporated. Faith and community partners were recognized by DJJ and the Circuit 2 CAB for their service to youth.

A youth panel was facilitated by Kevin Warren.

Youth represented the Associated Marine Institute, Tallahassee Longhorns, Lawrence Gregory Teen Council, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development and Real Life Inc., Palmer Munroe Teen Center. Also taking part on the panel were law enforcement officers representing the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Final comments were delivered by Bethany Gilot, DJJ Human Trafficking Director; Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Prevention & Victim Services and Chair Read.

Living Stones International (LSI) and the DJJ Office of Probation and Community Intervention hosted the 4th annual holiday dinner and toy giveaway for children with an incarcerated parent on December 7 at the Jacob Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. LSI is operated by former DJJ Champions of Hope recipients Pastor Gary Montgomery and his wife Josephine. Over 290 children, parents and caregivers came together for evening of food, fun and fellowship at Jacob Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. DJJ staff arranged for toys, provided entertainment, crafts and games.

LSI is a children and family outreach organization that hosts bonding visits between children and their incarcerated parents. Living Stones also offers after school tutoring program, and mentoring.  In 2007, LSI was established as a faith-based children and family outreach and social service organization working with "children of inmates and their families."  LSI's programs and services teach fathers and mothers how to be better parents and more active in their children's life; offer children of inmates the tools to overcome obstacles and prevent them from following in their incarcerated parent's footsteps; and advocate on behalf of families to our community and government officials.  

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, State and Federal Director Eugene Morris and Federal Programs Liaison Diamond Ragin attended the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) Conference December 13-14 in Orlando. Sponsored by the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, DJJ staff attended the RED Conference. Racial minority youth enter the juvenile justice system at a rate that is disproportionate to their white counterparts. For many years, Florida has been working tirelessly to reduce this disparity.

The conference was designed to help attendees understand historical practices that led to disparities in the juvenile justice system. The Center for Children’s Law and Policy provided information on the challenges that jurisdictions face in overrepresentation of youth of color, disparate treatment of youth within the system, and unnecessary entry and movement deeper into the system.

The training covered the values and strategies for addressing racial and ethnic disparities, provided awareness on how to address this topic in a data-driven manner, and outlined ways to engage communities and families to assist with these disparities.

The conference consisted of videos and informative group and break-out sessions. There were several interactive exercises designed to heighten assessment skills. The circuit breakout sessions were designed to discuss collaboration geared to address this topic regionally and the development of plans with specific goals. Highlights included an introduction by DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly, information on the history and strategies for addressing RED, examples of data driven reform, advice on confronting/countering implicit biases and how to talk about race and engaging families and communities.

Detention Update 

Youth from the Manatee RJDC got into the holiday spirit on Christmas Eve by decorating a few yummy treats. The girls from Manatee worked with kitchen staff to make festive cupcakes to celebrate the occasion along with decorative cookies for Santa Claus.

Each month, the Manatee RJDC holds a birthday party for the youth in the facility who are celebrating a birthday. For the month of December, the facility only had one youth with a birthday, and so he got the spotlight all to himself. The youth really enjoyed his cake and special celebration.

The Palm Beach RJDC hosted a holiday luncheon for families of our youth in the facility on Christmas Day. Both the youth and their parents enjoyed their lunch together and were thankful to spend some time with one another over the holidays. In addition, community partner Action Labor gave each one of our youth a hygiene box for Christmas filled with items such as toothpaste, deodorant and body wash for them to use at the facility. We would like to thank them for believing in our mission and realizing that every child needs to feel love on this special day. 

During the Christmas party at Palm Beach, Action Labor and the St. Patrick Catholic Church banded together to create ceiling tiles that will be displayed at the facility. We thank them so much for attending our Christmas party and supporting our youth. 

The Pasco RJDC received a donation of gift bags that were put together by the Calvary Wesley Chapel in New Port Richey, the River of Life Church in Dade City and the Pasco Counselling and Visitation Center. These gifts bags were filled with a blanket, hygiene items, hat & gloves and spiritual literature to give to youth identified as in need of these items upon release from the facility. The bags were designed to give youth who have been identified as homeless, go into foster care and who may need a fresh start. The gift bags were received by Chaplain Buchanan from the facility. The Pasco RJDC is fortunate to have such organizations like this who are willing to help our kids in need. 

It saddens me to report that JJDOS Terrance Henderson from the Bay RJDC passed away on December 7. He served quite humbly at Bay Detention for the last fifteen years. Mr. Henderson was a giant of man, towering over most everyone he came into contact with and had the compassion to match.  It didn’t matter who you were, if he thought you were struggling with something he would not let you get away from him without talking about it...that went the same for youth, staff and parents.  He had such a calling for this field and literally poured his heart and soul into his work-he had such an incredible impact on the youth that came through this facility because there was never a doubt that he sincerely cared for each and every one of them.  He also had an impact on the staff that came through Bay Detention over the years-his guidance and wisdom, and his willingness to share what he knew-everyone who worked with him knew that he supported them, and that he would be there for them regardless of the circumstance or situation.  As news of Mr. Henderson’s passing spread, we were contacted by countless youth and staff that shared stories about the lasting impact of Mr. Henderson’s dedication.  We wanted to share this not only to honor Mr. Henderson, but also as a reminder to each of us that the work we do every day DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE-the seeds we plant with these youths by simply being honest and compassionate often sow results that we never get to see, but they do occur.  At Bay Detention we are challenging ourselves to carry on Mr. Henderson’s legacy by remembering how much of himself he shared with us, taking the compassion and encouragement that he offered and incorporating it into our work. We remain grateful for the opportunity to know him and to work beside him. 

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs) and detention officers (JDOs) at FPSI, Margate and Tampa who graduated November 18th, December 15th and 16th. The officers will supervise youth in the community.  Thanks to Paul Hatcher, Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Services, Eddy Moise, Jr., Pastor, and Tim Niermann, Deputy Secretary for the Department, for delivering the graduation addresses at the JPO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultants Bernard Smith, Christina Ash, Denise Cannon, Statewide Reviewer and Learning Consultant Barbara Campbell and Adjunct Instructors Michele Hancock, Tahirah Jones and Stephanie McKenzie for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the circuits/centers listed next to their names.

FPSI Graduates

1st Row (Left to right):  R. Kumbat – Circuit 2, D. Moody – Circuit 3, S. Pritchett – Circuit 2, W. Jean Baptiste – Circuit 20, K. Hayes – Circuit 7

2nd Row:  E. Collins – Circuit 5, T. Jackson – Circuit 10, A. Bryant – Circuit 3, R. Velasquez – Circuit 20, W. Leneus – Circuit 15, J. Kinglocke – Circuit 15, A. Dery – Circuit 5, M. Michel – Circuit 4, A. Tobon – Circuit 19, E. Ortiz-Tibbs – Circuit 5, R. Sanon -Circuit 4

3rd Row: M. Przybylski – Circuit 4, D. Paige – Circuit 9, D. Wyche – Circuit 4, J. Love – Circuit 7, K. Jenkins – Circuit 1, R. Atkins – Circuit 15, M. Brady – Circuit 4, B. Adams – Circuit 16

Margate Graduates

Back Row (Left to right):  D. Watkins – Circuit 15, J. Lacy – Circuit 15, R. Talentas – Circuit 17, B. Smith – Circuit 11, L. Wittaker – Circuit 11, S. Allen – Circuit 15, E. Aracena-Santos – Circuit 11

Front Row:  A. Frazier – Circuit 17, N. Daniel – Circuit 17, C. Singleton – Circuit 11, S. Edwards – Circuit 11, G. Jean-Louis – Circuit 17, N. Estrada – Circuit 11

Tampa Graduates

1st Row (Left to right): Stephanie Cabrara-Hillsborough, Joshua Graubard- Pinellas, Amanda Dziendzielewski-Pinellas, LaSundra Solomon- Pasco, Anicia Mack-Pinellas, Kiah Bouret-Hillsborough,

Matthew Mineo- Pinellas, Abri Williams- Hillsborough

2nd Row: Carol Towns – Pasco, Chibale Young- Pasco, Romario Dunbar- Hillsborough

Rognel Joseph- Pasco, Kristin Waiters- Pinellas, Cameron Cabarris- Pinellas, Denzel Wellons- Pinellas, E Rehman Khan- Pinellas

        Last Row:  Sasha Hall – Hillsborough, Christopher Andree- Pasco

Probation Update

The management team from the Circuit 19 probation office held their annual team retreat on December 20. The purpose of this retreat was to plan activities and training opportunities for the upcoming year. The team engaged in painting and teambuilding exercises at Art-N-Around in Jenson Beach These activities were followed by a luncheon and gift exchange for the holidays. 

The Circuit 19 probation office held its circuit-wide all staff meeting on December 16 where staffmembers were trained on human trafficking. After the training session, probation staff enjoyed a multi-cultural luncheon and acknowledged staff for Employee of the Quarter and Employee of the Year. 

On December 16, Eckerd Kids Project Bridge was invited to attend Orlando Waves ABA Professional Basketball team as their Special Night Guest.  Orlando Waves is a new professional basketball team for the Orlando area.  Transition Coordinator, Derrell Hand, and youth, Frantz Guerrier were able to attend and had an amazing experience, in which they met the coach and team players.  They were also able to shoot a few baskets during the pre-game.  The youth was invited back the following weekend for their next game and volunteered as the team’s towel boy.  Eckerd Kids Project Bridge looks forward to collaborating with Orlando Waves in upcoming events.

I am pleased to share the following success story from Eckerd’s Project Bridge Program.   Tori was admitted into our program on September 21, 2016 and identified her initial goal was to obtain her GED.  All hands were on deck with this young lady to achieve this goal.  After working with our Paxen GED instructor, Audrey Kaufman, the youth was ready to begin her GED exams as of November 7, 2016.  Tori passed each of the 4 GED components and on December 15th Tori was able to proudly walk with her cap and gown at the Central Area Adult & Community Graduation in Cocoa, Florida.   When asked what her next goal is the youth indicated she wants to obtain her learner’s permit and a job.  Project Bridge will continue to strive to work jointly with Tori to achieve her additional goals.

Eckerd Project Bridge Circuit 12 youth had the opportunity to participate in a special animal rescue event at the Project Bridge site in Palmetto, Florida. The Circuit 12 Educational Instructor, Christopher Johnson, led a presentation for the youth, educating them about animal rescue and how they can impact the safety of animals in their areas. The youth then had the opportunity to interact with guest kittens, Fireball and Grover, both rescued from the community and currently up for adoption. The event served as both educational and therapeutic for the participating youth.

Throughout the year, JPO Shana Feren from Circuit 20 works with community members and local schools to identify families in need. Over the holidays, Shana teamed up with JPOS Toni Lesher and SJPO Shawna Prope to distribute Christmas presents and food baskets to fourteen deserving families in need. These families received a ham, potatoes, vegetables and all the trimmings needed to prepare Christmas dinner. In addition, they also received gift cards, toys, clothes, and Christmas candy. All 14 families are or were previously involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice and were identified by DJJ staff as being in need. Donations for these Christmas baskets were collected at schools, the DJJ Probation Office, the local courthouse and throughout the community. 

Circuit 20 is proud to announce that we have our first GED student, Jymez Forte!  Jymez is 18-years-old and recognized that in order to obtain a good job he needed to have his diploma.  Jymez set forth completing three out of four sections of the GED within the first try.  Jymez struggled with math but with persistence and extra study time, he was able to pull his score up.  On December 19, he passed the math section, therefore earning his GED.  Jymez also was recently hired at McDonalds!  We are so proud of him and his success.

Residential Update

Last week, Residential Services South Regional Director Steve Brown coordinated and conducted a tour for Circuit 15 stakeholders of programs, which included Martin Girls Academy, Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center, and Okeechobee Girls Academy and the Palm Beach Detention Center.  Regional and circuit leadership from Probation and Community Intervention, Detention Services, and MQI assisted in the tours and coordination.  Five judges, one judicial assistant, four staff from the public defender’s office, five staff from the state’s attorney’s office, and DJJ regional staff participated. 

Feedback from stakeholders was extremely positive.  The majority of the stakeholders are newly appointed to their positions.  According to their responses, the tour was very educational and eye opening.  Some of the comments included the following:

“There was such a vast difference in what we experienced and observed as opposed to what we envisioned prior to visiting the programs.”

“It was very surprising to see such positive communication and relationships between the staff and kids.”

“The program dorms and the environment for the kids was nothing like what we expected…murals and paint colors were soothing, bed coverings and personalized rooms, pictures and drawings by the kids made it feel very homelike.”

Youth Opportunity Investments (YOI) hosts a monthly spirited competition, the “YOI Cup,” between the residents of the two programs that it operates—Kissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a 30-bed high-risk program for males, ages 14 to 21, and Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a 28-bed non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18. 

The highlight of each event is the incredible sportsmanship demonstrated during and after the games.  Staff from each program cheer loudly for the boys of their respective programs throughout each football game.  Afterward, the hosting site provides a special barbecue dinner for the young men and staff.  Although each YOI Cup results in a football game win for one of the teams, all of the students not only learn sportsmanship skills, they learn teamwork and cooperation. 

Recently, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) brought the Florida Licensing On Wheels (FLOW) bus to KYA, providing a quick and convenient way for the residents to obtain an official state of Florida identification card.  The DHSMV places a high value on customer service by providing this convenient method for youth in our care to obtain their ID cards.  Having a state of Florida ID card is vital to each youth’s transition from residential commitment to their home communities.  By having this card, each youth is able to complete various tasks such as opening a bank account or applying for a job.

Shown left, is a KYA resident completing the ID card process on the FLOW bus with assistance from TCM Consuelo Garvin.

KYA Transitional Case Manager (TCM) Consuelo Garvin organized the event, which resulted in 27 residents obtaining their ID cards.  The FLOW staff commended the program for a job well done stating everything was organized, making the process easy.  The FLOW team also commented on the exceptional behavior of the youth during the visit.

The residents of Melbourne Center for Personal Growth (MCPG), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., have been diligently studying and achieving the academic goals.  Five students recently earned the GED® and 10 students earned medical assistant and EKG certifications.  

The reading class at MCPG teamed up with the local Barnes & Noble® Bookstore, which provided the class with NOOK Tablet® electronic readers and allowed each student to download 12 books onto each e-reader.  Students choose their own books, discuss them individually with the teacher and each other, and must keep detailed journals about their reading.  The MCPG education team has a book list that will be used to download more books onto each NOOK® as the students finish the first dozen.

The culinary students at MCPG recently completed their Quarterly Food Challenge.  Two teams, consisting of five youth on each team, shop at Publix and prepare dishes that are judged by the program’s staff.  For the latest food challenge, each team prepared a variety of chicken wings and the teams were judged on the appearance of the food they prepared, how the food was presented, and how each dish was made creatively.

For Christmas, the MCPG youth were joined by the program’s board of directors, volunteers, and staff at the Discover Life Church for the Annual Potluck Dinner.  Santa Claus was on hand with gifts for the 17 residents. 

The event was a prime opportunity for the residents to dress in a shirt and tie, and to practice the social etiquette manners they were taught as they greeted everyone and conversed with the group that gathered to celebrate with them.  

Shown left with the boys is Executive Director Cedric Cliatt and Case Manager Norma Bolton.

Thanks to the support of the Department of Labor, the carpentry program at the Youth Environmental Services (YES) program— a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc.—continues to be a game changer for the young men in the program.  Carpentry has helped each boy gain increased self-esteem and self-worth while promoting positive behavior.  Enrollment in carpentry must be earned by producing positive academic gains in the classroom, positive progress and participation in treatment groups, and positive behaviors.

Carpentry students helped construct a new office/classroom area in the workshop where they will continue to learn the carpentry trade.  Most importantly, building this classroom also provided the students with hands-on experience to apply their recently-acquired knowledge of wall framing.  While they read about it in the curriculum, doing the work was invaluable.  

The young men continue to work together as a team, applying ever-increasing knowledge of the construction industry and the carpentry trade. 

Not only are they learning a trade, but they are also being taught the life values of teamwork, problem solving, and strength of character while promoting a strong, positive work ethic.  These are but a few of the valuable skills that will most definitely contribute to separating their troubled past from a bright future.

e YES program and Frickin’ Fab, a furniture store in Tampa that was extremely impressed by the work being done in the carpentry program, have created a partnership.  Frickin’ Fab Furniture & Decor CEO and Founder Emily Frick will pay the carpentry program to build various furniture, including dining room tables, chairs, shelves, and credenzas.  These items will be displayed and for sale in the store.

All of the revenue generated by this partnership will go directly back in to the carpentry program, which will set up accounts for the young men who build the furniture.  Upon successful completion of the YES program, each carpenter will receive a percentage of all of the proceeds earned.  Not only are the young men receiving hands-on experience, they now have a means of earning money to pay restitution and to give them a head start when they transition back home.

The YES program’s carpentry instructor, Garrett Russell, joined the staff about six months ago.  He is shown below (center) with some of his students.

Office of Staff Development and Training Update 


The next leadership development courses launched the first week in December.   The focus this round were two different trainings around coaching.  

In the four hour, Fundamentals of Coaching training, seventeen (17) staff from various parts of the agency, learned the following:  basic pro-active coaching techniques, the benefits of coaching, coaching strategies to engage staff, how to coach when performance is off track, and giving feedback.  Staff practiced the skills they learned as part of the training.  

 In the two day, Crucial Conversations training, nineteen (19) staff from various parts of the agency, learned advanced coaching techniques focused on the following:  getting unstuck, starting with the heart, mastering your stories, stating your path, learning to look, creating a safe path for conversations, and how to move to action.   Some of the comments about these two trainings included:

Fundamentals of Coaching:

“This has assisted me in maintaining focus and direction when speaking with individuals.  Especially delicate topics.  I enjoyed immensely. Thank you.”

“This course was very helpful to me and I will implement the coaching skills into my routine with my employees.”

Crucial Conversations:

“Most valuable training/information for use at work.”

“Great material, very informative.  I strongly suggest this course to all of management.”

“This was an excellent session. Thought provoking for both professional and personal relationships.  I would recommend this be offered in a model for line staff dealing with youth and families.”

“Meaningful!  It has changed my life!  I’m grateful! Thank you! Kudos for the excellent job.”

Based on this feedback we have added another Crucial Conversations training to occur in Tallahassee for north region staff May 3-4.

The next Fundamentals of Coaching training will be:  March 7 in Broward.

The next Crucial Conversations training will be:  March 8 & 9 in Broward.