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Secretary's Message

March 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

Volusia County Sherriff Meet and Greet

Secretary Daly along with Chief Probation Officer David Kerr and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Dan Merrithew met with newly elected Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood in Port Orange this past week. Secretary Daly and the DJJ team from Circuit 7 had an opportunity to discuss an expanded partnership with the Sheriff’s office. They talked about the use of electronic monitoring, the roles of DJJ staff, improvements to collaboration with the Sheriff’s office and enhancing service to the youth in the community.   

Pictured: Chief Probation Officer David Kerr, Assistant Chief Probation Officer Daniel Merrithew, Secretary Daly, Chief Deputy for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office John Creamer, Volusia County  Sheriff Mike Chitwood,  and Director of Juvenile Services for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Carla Quinn

Bureau of Management Information Systems (MIS) 

Did You Know…

Can’t find an application? You can easily find the application you are looking for by clicking on START Image result for Windows Start Button and then typing the name of the application in question.  For example, if you are searching for NOTEPAD, click on the windows start icon and start typing notepad and select from the list provided.  If the application is installed, it will show in the list.

The Reform Corner

Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPCIS)

Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) is an evidence-based practice that works with moderate-high and high-risk youth. EPICS is a unique protocol for structuring face-to-face contacts between the juvenile probation officers (JPOs) and youth, ensuring the majority of the contact is focused on behavior change. The components of an EPICS session are the check in, review, intervention, and homework. EPICS is a valuable tool in our staff’s tool belt to help in making their supervisory contacts more meaningful and productive. Currently, EPICS is active in eight circuits, including Circuit 20. With that, we’d like to give kudos to Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren, who conducted eighteen EPICS sessions for the month of February. Way to go JPO Feren!  

Staff Announcement

A big reform welcome goes to Heather Nowell, who will serve as the Circuit 14 reform specialist. Ms. Nowell has been with DJJ for over seventeen years and has most recently served as a senior JPO in Bay County. Ms. Nowell is well versed in the Department’s reform initiatives and is excited to have the opportunity to work with her peers to continue our reform efforts.  

If you have exceptional Roadmap highlights you'd like to have considered for the Reform Corner, please send them to Elizabeth Phillips at Elizabeth.Phillips@djj.state.fl.us.

Detention Update

Last week, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler made site visits to the both the Okaloosa RJDC and the Escambia RJDC. During the visit to Okaloosa, Superintendent Ariel Veguilla accompanied Niermann and Fosler on a tour of the facility, where they attended a supervisors meeting. In addition, the duo from headquarters were able to see the new mural in the common area that was painted by Okaloosa staff and visit with the new therapy puppies from the Pixel Program. At Escambia, they were given a tour of the facility by Superintendent Regina Berry and Captain Sylvester Scott

Detention Services Celebrates Black History Month

On February 24, the Orange RJDC held their Black History Program corresponding with Black History month. During the program, the young ladies from Orange RJDC sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The program welcomed a vast array of guest speakers each with unique life experiences. Thanks to the wonderful support of the Orange County Schools, this event turned out to be a tremendous success. 

The Hillsborough West RJDC also held their Black History Appreciation Program on February 17. The theme of this year’s program was celebrating musical genres. The program began with the singing of the National Black Anthem and was followed by presentations in the musical genres of gospel, blues, jazz, world music, rhythm and blues and hip hop. The teachers and staff members did a great job organizing the presentations and the youth who participated were very attentive and engaged. 

Palm Beach RJDC youth, in collaboration with Palm Beach Educational Alternatives, celebrated Black History Month by ending with a luncheon. The youth enjoyed an hour long-presentation from Mrs. Horne, graduation/career coach, discussing various individuals that made an impact in everyone’s history. Throughout the week each mod illustrated and had open discussion on different individuals they felt had made an impact. The education department at Palm Beach assigned several students projects, where each one was allowed to do research and highlight someone of their choice. After the youth discussed their selected candidate, their project was later displayed at the facility.

In addition to the presentation the youth, education staff and facility staff enjoyed a special meal with several of the items from their very own garden. Everyone enjoyed collard greens from the garden, cornbread with peppers from the garden, mac and cheese with herbs from the garden, barbeque chicken and rice. Overall, everyone learned about each other’s history. 

Probation Update

As mentioned previously, Circuit 8 probation staff have partnered with the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department to adopt a park for our probationary youth to help restore, all while earning valuable community service hours. The staff adopted Duval Park in an at-risk neighborhood in Gainesville and each month youth come to the park to work on beautification projects and vegetation removal. As you can see in this PowerPoint Presentation complied by JPO Dollie Wygant, a total of 51 youth to date have participated earning a total of 408 community service hours so far!

On February 22, CPO Dave Cornuet, Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Sam Lyons, Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts and Twin Oaks CEO Donnie Read met with newly elected Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White. Their meeting welcomed Sheriff White to his new post and to promote future collaboration with the between the Sheriff’s Office and DJJ. Ms. Roberts also gave a brief presentation on the implementation of the civil citation initiative both in Liberty County and statewide. Sheriff White expressed interest in expanding alternatives from arrest, like civil citation, to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system. 

Pictured from left to right: CEO of Twin Oaks Juvenile Development: Donnie Read, Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer: Dave Cornuet, Liberty County Sheriff: Eddie Joe White, Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator: Theda Roberts and Circuit 2 Reform Specialist: Sam Lyons.

In addition, CPO Cornuet, Reform Specialist Lyons and Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Roberts traveled to Wakulla County to meet with newly elected Sheriff Jared Miller and his Major Billy Jones. The meeting also welcomed Sheriff Miller to his new position, discuss collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office, and to discuss the great numbers that Wakulla County has referred to the civil citation program. Sheriff Miller was very pleased with the presentation and also expressed his interest in expanding the local civil citation program in his area! 

Pictured from left to right are WCSO: Major Billy Jones, Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer: Dave Cornuet, Wakulla County Sheriff: Jared Miller, Circuit 2 Reform Specialist: Sam Lyons and Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator: Theda Roberts

Probation staff from Circuit 7 attended the Black Family Summit on February 25 at the George Washington Carver Center in Flagler County. CPO David Kerr led one of the workshops during the event, which discussed the reality of young people who end up coming into contact with law enforcement and the court system.

Chief Kerr also spoke about the difference between civil citation and an actual arrest, and how civil citations offer a chance for early intervention and future success for a young person. I would also like to thank SJPO Donna Easterling and JPOs Michael Conville and Deanna Johnson for their participation in this event.

The ability to communicate with a law enforcement officer can be a life or death skill when you live in a dangerous neighborhood. The ability to see the other person as a human being first can bridge the gap between law enforcement and an at-risk teen. Lt. Myron Guilford of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office arranged for six of his finest officers to participate in the Breaking Barriers program  at AMIkids PCMI. Breaking Barriers is an AMIkids initiative to get young people together with police officers and deputies so that they can forge relationships and improve communication.

First, the deputies and kids sat down together and introduced themselves. The kids talked about what they wanted to become as young men and the deputies talked about why they became law enforcement officers. A couple of them came from very tough neighborhoods themselves when they were kids. “I wish I had a school like this when I was a kid” said Deputy Drake Whitman. The kids then picked a deputy and interviewed them in depth about their careers and why they do what they do. “I am glad we did this. I enjoyed interviewing the officer” one of the youth commented.

After breaking bread together, they picked teams of one deputy and one kid and played toss across. The deputies held their own and everyone was soon relaxing and laughing. After the deputies left, student Jailen, who took some time to warm up to the deputies said, “This was really fun. I’m glad we did it!”

The group has decided to come back together again soon to do Meals on Wheels as a joint community service project. Many thanks go out to Sheriff Tommy Ford and Lt Myron Guilford for making this happen. Great job guys!

Statewide JDAI Coordinator Minnie Bishop and Technical Assistant Lisa Macaluso from the Annie E. Casey Foundation conducted their annual site visit in Circuit 15 last week. JDAI sites are tasked with identifying ways to ensure youth that can be safely supervised in the community while awaiting the court process are diverted from secure detention placement. As a result, Circuit 15 has successfully implemented an intensive home detention program and an evening reporting center (ERC).  The site visit included individual meetings with Collaborative Chair Judge Weiss, Chief Public Defender Meagan Eaton, Chief Assistant State Attorney Lynn Powell, RED Committee Chair Clay Walker, and Chief Probation Officer Greg Starling.  The collaborative is committed to innovating policies and practices in ways that ensure only appropriate youth are placed in secure detention for the length of time that is absolutely necessary.

Pictured (from left to right):  JDAI Coordinator Randi Taylor, CPO Greg Starling, AECF Lisa Macaluso, RED Sub-Committee Chair Clay Walker, and Minnie Bishop

In addition, JDAI Coordinator Sarah Blumberg recently conducted training in the Department's JDAI and RED initiatives for community stakeholder and probation staff in Circuit 13. The training included an overview of the basics of JDAI, the need for collaborative efforts, and strategies for accomplishing stated goals.

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee coordinated a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) conversation at the Brookwood Florida, Inc. Girls Home in St. Petersburg. The conversation served nine youth, twelve law enforcement officers, and there were over forty people in attendance. This event was unique as it consisted of all girls on the panel as well as all female police officers and was moderated by Judge Patrice Moore. There was some great dialogue as it related to stereotyping, respect, and the definition of friends. One girl told her heartfelt story that had many in tears. The audience also participated with answering questions. This powerful event allowed the girls to speak from the heart and develop relationships with the police officers.

I would like to thank Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims for her attendance and for motiving the girls with an outstanding discussion. In addition, many thanks go to Pat McGhee for coordinating the event, and to Assistant Chief Probation Officer Joyce Clay, JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, and Administrative Assistant Nivea Malave for making this event successful.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Circuit 19 Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist conducted Faith Network trainings in Circuits 17 & 19. DJJ facilitated the Circuit 17 Faith Network training at AWE Center Ministries in Fort Lauderdale and at the Life Changing Ministries in Port St. Lucie. A total of 26 people participated in these trainings. Both circuits are looking to engage additional faith-based organizations to increase participation and resources within their circuit faith networks.

The PACE Center for Girls of Pinellas County, a DJJ provider, recently held a college and career day at their facility which was organized and hosted by a team of seven PACE students. PACE Pinellas girls heard in-depth presentations from select colleges and branches of the military. Participants represented Keiser University, St. Petersburg College, New Jersey College School of Nursing, University of South Florida, United States Army and Navy, and the St. Petersburg College Police Academy.

PACE girls were highly engaged in the discussion, asked important and relevant questions, and received materials from the colleges and military recruiters. PACE girls discussed a wide variety of interests from military service to veterinary school. Girls were excited to focus on plans for their futures and to gain information to help bring those plans to fruition.

Residential Update

Up, up, and away!  The youth in Mr. Umholtz’s science class at Marion Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, were visited by The Discovery Center in Ocala.  The two speakers gave a slideshow presentation that outlined the history of space exploration along with the defining the principles of flight.  Students then made “stomp” rockets to fly outside, along with a demonstration of how different sodas react with Mentos® candies to create oxidation geysers.  Overall, the visit was successful with a great deal of participation, questions, and fun.

Congratulations to Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys, ages 10 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, for winning the “Treasure of Tampa Bay” Award for the second year in a row.  The program received the award from  Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB).  The award recognizes the facility as the top community volunteer affiliate with KTBB in two key areas: (1) overall achievement in educating and engaging at-risk kids through volunteer efforts in litter control, waste reduction/recycling, conservation and beautification; and (2) continual progress in its Great American Cleanup campaigns, feeding the homeless, and cancer fighting efforts logging in more than 300 community service hours in 2016 as a facility.  

Since 1989, KTBB has developed partnerships with local governments, corporations, schools, and neighborhood organizations to provide opportunities for community enhancement through volunteer work.  In 2014, Columbus and KTBB partnered together offering the residents an opportunity to learn and contribute to their communities as well as acquire life skills and knowledge.

Columbus has participated in various projects such as the Moffitt Cancer Center’s fundraising projects, Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s Sulphur Springs Beautification Projects, Metropolitan Ministries, Light House Revival Center’s feeding the homeless, and Tampa Bay Bolt Runs.  Participating in these community service projects has made a big difference to the lives of the youth and the people served.

Earlier this year, more than 30 members of the Chi Tau Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. visited the Orange Youth Academy (OYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 18, which are both operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  The fraternity members met with the youth during their group therapy sessions to discuss educational goals and relapse prevention plans.  The youth shared their stories and their plans for the future.  The OYA and OIYA groups also heard how the fraternity members overcame their own obstacles in life. 

The youth reported that the visit provided them with examples of men who have made similar mistakes in their lives and have learned from them and have become successful and productive members of society.  The residents and the men of Omega Psi Phi are excited to establish a meaningful and lasting mentoring program.

Touchdown!  The boys of OYA and OIYA recently enjoyed the opportunity to practice in the NFL 2017 Pro Bowl game on Jan. 29, at Camping World Stadium.  Excitement filled the air as the six lucky young men practiced with Coach Tom Shaw and his team.

OYA and OIYA also enjoyed a visit from three members of the NFL Alumni Central Florida Chapter.  The players included Lee Paige, Charles Hawkins, and Michael Coe.     

Charlie Williams, director of marketing and sales for the Alumni Chapter, arranged the visit and joined the players on site.  The alumni talked with the residents during lunch and shared their stories of hardship and triumph.  The youth asked them questions about how they overcame challenges in their childhoods to become successful men.  

Staff Development and Training Update

Grants Management

DJJ recently hosted a two-day grants management training for 40 staff from over 15 different agencies across the state.  Sixteen of the forty staff were from DJJ and represented:  detention, prevention, probation, budget, finance, staff development & training, and program accountability.   The training was facilitated by Grant Writing, USA.  This training focused on all aspects of grant management including:  internal controls, finance, documentation, meeting deliverables, and audits.  This training was a follow up to a two-day grant writing training that DJJ hosted in January.  A requirement of DJJ staff who participated in the grant writing training is to research and submit a grant to enhance their program area.