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Secretary's Message

February 6, 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

JJSIP Update:  Family Engagement Webinar, Circuit 11 Rollout, and Circuit 4 Judicial Follow-up Meetings

The end of January and the beginning of February have been busy times for those involved in the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP). Starting on January 27th, Probation & Community Intervention staff coordinated the Family Engagement webinar—a component of JJSIP—that featured Marion Kelly, a consultant from Georgetown University, Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services Statewide Respite Coordinator Megan Picinic, Probation Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell, and Probation Statewide Reform Coordinator Elizabeth Phillips.

The webinar was attended by more than 300 participants, including Assistant Secretary Paul Hatcher; Residential Services staff members Meg Bates, Garrett Tucker, and Lytha Belrose; Probation & Community Intervention staff; residential provider staff; and transition services providers statewide. 

As part of JJSIP, Marion Kelly also conducted a webinar on transition services in late December that had more than 200 participants statewide.

Last week in Circuit 11 (Miami), the Department rolled out the JJSIP through a series of three meetings. We would like to thank Circuit 11 Chief Probation Officer Frank Manning and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Concheita Gillum for organizing the three meetings and a special thank you to featured speakers Shay Bilchik (founder and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy), Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Office of Residential Services (ORS), Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Probation & Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald, and DJJ General Counsel Brian Berkowitz.  Many thanks also to our hosts at the Government Center and the New Children’s Courthouse. 

Shown left:  Marion Kelly, Georgetown University Consultant, and Jeannie Becker-Powell, Probation Director of Policy and Programming, are shown here after the January 27 webinar’s conclusion.

After presenting the national perspective and research foundations of JJSIP, the speakers presented specifics about implementation in Florida and data relative to Circuit 11.  In total, nearly 170 stakeholders, DJJ staff members, and members of the judiciary learned about JJSIP through interactive question and answer presentations.  I really enjoyed meeting the judges and so many stakeholders, as well as the Circuit 11 and Central Regional DJJ staff who participated.

The next step in the roll-out process is to a hold case studies review with probation staff members to learn the application of JJSIP to specific case scenarios.  Circuit 11 makes the sixteenth circuit in which the Department has rolled out JJSIP. 

After the Circuit 11 JJSIP, the presentation team joined me in Jacksonville for a review of JJSIP with the judges and new members of the State Attorney’s Office in Circuit 4.  

Shown right: Secretary Daly and Circuit 4 Chief Probation Officer Donna Webb.

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP, a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating “what works” into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework forimplementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.  To read more about JJSIP, click on the following link:  http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/latest-initiatives/juvenile-justice-system-improvement-project-(jjsip).

Detention Update

Youth from the Marion RJDC conducted a very cool and interactive science project at the facility, as they have been studying volcanos during their science class. With the help of Marion County School District teachers and the staff from the detention center, these students constructed and decorated replica volcanos and then made them erupt on the grounds of the facility. All of the youth had a wonderful time and learned so much in the process.

Barbara Waiters, a volunteer chaplain with the Manatee RJDC for the last fifteen years, invited the Gospel Echoes Team Prison Ministry to the facility on January 27. The Echoes team hails from Goshen, Indiana and travels across the county sharing the ministry of Christ to prison populations through music, bible study courses, and new life testaments. Echoes gave our youth snacks and then performed several gospel songs for their listening enjoyment. The youth really appreciated their visit. 

On January 27, the Volusia RJDC held a “Student of the Week,” ceremony at the facility for those youth who earned 80% or more of their available points for school participation and pro-social behavior. This week’s reward activity included a trip to the Volusia “Sub-Shop,” located in the cafeteria where the students of the week were treated to a custom made sub sandwich along with chips and a soda. 

Also happening at Volusia RJDC, I would like to congratulate Corporal Dwayne Murray who took home the facility’s employee of the month honors for the month of January. Corporal Murray has been with Volusia for nearly five years and is the consummate team player. He assists other shifts to provide coverage when needed and remains the textbook example of an exceptional employee.

From left to right: Sargent Edwardo McHenry, Captain Keith Bennis, Captain Andrea Akins, Chief Darrell Johnson, Corporal Dwayne Murray, Major Paul Finn and Sargent William Wynn.

Last week, Superintendent Joseph Seeber from the Pinellas RJDC hosted a meet and greet session for Faith Based volunteers at the facility. The volunteers discussed their experiences, their goals for the future and how it fits with the vision of the Department. Major Seeber was pleased with this positive brainstorming session which helped discover new ways that collectively they could impact the youth they work with. The facility provided cupcakes and drinks for the volunteers and Seeber hopes to continue this forum on a quarterly basis in the future.

Education Update

On January 17, in the central hall of Eckerd Youth Challenge Program, the culmination of months of careful preparation, strategic design, and numerous collaborative meetings came to fruition with the commencement of the inaugural Eckerd Prep for Success Career Technical Workshop.

The Prep for Success workshop consisted of an organized circuit of ten instructor led stations covering a variety of topics such as Introduction to an Interview, How to Address Your Felony, and How to use the Employ Florida Website.

“I think it was very beneficial”, said youth JJ when sharing his thoughts about the event. “I was taught things I didn’t know. I met people, and felt worth something.”

Each youth attended the event with their dorm members, rotating through the stations during their Career class period.  Each station was operated by various volunteers including community partners, representatives from the Department of Juvenile Justice, Pinellas Department of Education, and Eckerd Kid’s Clearwater Support Center.

“I believe the information I learned will give me an advantage in my first interview,” said youth JJ. “I will know how to answer tough interview questions.”

Each participant received a personalized bag with donated items to take away as a reminder of the knowledge and skill increase that occurred during Prep for Success. Youth and adult participants, as well as observers, all agree this was a truly unique event that captured the attention and engaged all who attended.

Prevention Update


Last week, The Florida Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) along with DJJ staff held the quarterly SAG meeting at Pensacola State College. The meeting was headlined by our Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and SAG Chairman Dwayne Maddron who all delivered opening remarks.

In preparation for the 2017 Legislative Session, Mr. Schuknecht delivered an informative presentation on DJJ’s legislative priorities. He also presented an overview on the legislative budget request process and provided an overview of DJJ’s residential bed capacity.

Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard provided updates on federal sub grants and other areas. Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot provided an update on anti-human trafficking agency initiatives, and SAG member Ruban Roberts discussed crime trends and recent events involving young people in South Florida. Other speakers included: Edna Williams, chair, Circuit 1 Advisory Board; Janice Lucas, director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County; and William Bloodworth, camp director, Camp Anderson in Old Town, FL.

Among the topics addressed were the 2015 & 2016 Governor’s Review and the SAG meeting agenda planning session. Also discussed were the Community Drug & Alcohol Council in Pensacola and Lutheran Social Services.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended a law enforcement and community roundtable on January 18 on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Approximately 20 law enforcement agencies (state, city, and county) from across the state and 37 individual law enforcement professionals participated in one or both of the sessions. 

More than 150 participants including elected officials, law enforcement professionals, students & faculty from Florida Historically Black Colleges and Universities, media professionals, members of the clergy, community residents/leaders, and youth & family service organizations engaged in solution-focused discussions on strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the community during the Community Roundtable Forum.

This roundtable was designed to identify problems and solutions related to law enforcement and community relations.  One common problem identified in all eight groups was the need for proactive, positive communication between law enforcement officers and youth. Assistant Secretary Sims informed the attendees of the Department’s Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Prospective (G.A.A.P.) discussions that are taking place around the state.

The PACE Center for Girls of Pinellas County held elections back in December for the program’s first ever student council, which began in January.  The student council officers are: President Fairyonna F.; Vice President Jasmine C.; Secretary Makaylah S.; and Treasurer Jelecia C. The representatives elected in January are: Gina S., Sierra D., Celyne L., and Katie B. The student council president and vice president will serve on the PACE Pinellas Board of Directors and the council terms are six months in length.

The student council will be charged with updating and managing the student point store, helping to revise the behavioral levels system, providing input into the center physical space redesign, supporting the roll out of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, and planning student levels and awards ceremonies and events. The student council will be asked to represent the voice of the students in center program planning.  Student Council participation supports the development of leadership and listening skills and helps girls hone their communication and self-presentation skills. In addition, girls will benefit from direct experience in problem-solving, governing, budgeting, and project planning.

Residential Update

Last month, the students of the Boys and Girls Club of Tabula Rasa at the Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment (JUST) program—which is a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 17, that is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.—in Liberty County, participated several exciting projects and enjoyed special guest speakers.  The projects in which the youth participated included sciences, arts, and those that helped the students develop their team building and leadership skills.

The boys learned how to build a V8 engine by putting together a model that, once completed, revealed all of the working components and how they make the engine work.  A V8 engine is an eight-cylinder combustion engine that is constructed in a V configuration with the cylinders mounted in two sets of four on the crankcase.  It takes all eight cylinders to drive the engine. 

The club also welcomed a visit from the Christian Motorcycle Club, which featured speakers who encouraged the students to have positive outlooks on their futures no matter where they go.  In addition, the students were given an up-close look at the members’ motorcycles.  

Arts education for the youth included lessons in working with clay.  The boys enjoyed creating clay likenesses of their favorite cartoon characters.  They have already asked when they will get to do this project again.

The other science project that the students enjoyed was being reunited with Spike, the bearded dragon that visits monthly.  Each visit includes lessons about Spike’s biology and his habitat.  Of course, the boys also enjoy the opportunity to hold Spike. 

Five youth from the Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, walked in Jacksonville’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.  The youth enjoyed participating in the parade and were given commemorative shirts of the day’s event. 

Shown left with the five boys are (back row) Stephanie Williams, a Duval Academy direct-care staff member, President of the Duval Academy Advisory Board Herlena Washington, and Recreation Therapist Robert Griggs. 

Probation Update

The Circuit 15 probation team recently partnered with the City of West Palm Peach’s PATHWAY initiative to host a restorative justice training session. The training session welcomed guest speaker Dr. Mara Schiff from Florida Atlantic University and Peace Works, Inc. Dr. Schiff provided a very interactive and informative workshop on recognizing the harm experienced by all parties after a delinquent act. Probation staff members were given tools to improve working relationships through open dialogue in the hopes at better restoring conflict.

Over 50 probation staff members were in attendance and I would especially like to thank SJPO Tiffany Patrick and JPOs Rebakah Wilson and Danielle Stewart who participated in a mock restorative justice circle. The entire experience was educational and enlightening and all attendees expressed a positive outlook on utilizing the new skills learned.  

Office of Staff Development and Training Update

Blended Academy Train-the-Trainer Workshop

Staff Development & Training’s Learning Consultants and the Curriculum and Evaluation team met at the Florida Public Safety Institute in January for the 2nd Blended Academy Train-the-Trainer Workshop. Participants William Averhart, Cortez Bell, Eric Buff, Dawn Perkins, Ayo Hinkson, Deidre Holmes and Stephanie McKenzie studied the new blended academy materials and were responsible for delivering teach-backs to demonstrate understanding and delivery skills.  The blended academies will begin during the first quarter of 2017.  

Motivational Interviewing at the Academies

At the end of January, the juvenile probation officer and juvenile detention officer academies at our four training sites were able to showcase the skills learned during Motivational Interviewing training.  Motivational Interviewing training is intended to provide staff members with more effective communication strategies to utilize when interacting with youth. These strategies focus on reducing resistance, are non-confrontational in nature, and involve less escalation during the course of interactions.

The Wellness Wire

Below, you will find a link to the February, 2017 issue of “The Wellness Wire,” courtesy of the Department of Management Services.

Volume 5 | Issue 2 | February 2017