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Secretary's Message

March 14, 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

Legislative Update

Last Tuesday, the Florida Legislature convened the 2017 Legislative Session, the 119th Regular Session since Florida’s statehood in 1845. We look forward to a productive session and will work to educate and inform the state’s policy makers of our good work and the potential impacts of proposed legislation. Please feel free to contact the DJJ Legislative Affairs Director, Meredith Stanfield, directly with any questions you have regarding proposed legislation or the legislative process.

DJJ has worked with the Department of Health (DOH) on joint priority language to allow DOH to provide no-cost Florida birth certificates for youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice system. This change works along with our priority legislation last year to provide no-cost identification cards to DJJ youth to strengthen our effort to assist them in accessing their personal identification documents. There are three main documents youth need to transition to normal and successful adult life: a birth certificate, identification card or driver’s license, and a social security card. A birth certificate is required to obtain a state identification card and both documents are needed to obtain your social security card. These personal identification documents help youth to prepare for college, apply for financial assistance, seek employment, and most other things that come with being an adult. This language is currently included in SB 1074, a bill relating to the Department of Health. We will keep you posted as the bill moves through the legislative process.

Statewide Council on Human Trafficking Meeting

On Thursday, DJJ Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot and I attended a meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking at the Capitol. During the meeting, I gave a presentation on the Statewide Council’s 2016 Annual Report. This report outlines the necessary next steps moving forward for the Statewide Council as it relates to issues they plan to advocate for and implement during the 2017 Legislative Session. In addition, the Statewide Council heard from Stephanie Smith from Uber Technologies who made a presentation on driver awareness and education and Representative Jeanette Nuñez, who provided a legislative update.  

Youth In Custody Practice Model

Last Thursday and Friday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, and Director of Research and Data Integrity Mark Greenwald attended the Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM) Core Leadership Team Meeting. The YICPM is administered by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) from Georgetown University. The YICPM initiative is designed to assist state and county juvenile correctional agencies in implementing an extensive and effective service delivery approach for youth in residential programs. The YICPM offers an extensive training course which focuses on case planning, facility based services, transition/re-entry, and community based services. Florida was one of just four agencies nationwide that was selected to participate in the YICPM.

Residential Youth Participate in Debate Competitions

The education department from the Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC (YOI), was featured in the 2017 Winter edition of Rostrum Magazine. Rostrum is the official magazine of the National Speech & Debate Association, and provides the speech and debate community with news, scholarly articles, and national updates. The article highlights the efforts of the Broward County School system to introduce debate classes to all of their students including those at DJJ facilities. While the BYTC was featured, DJJ students from the Pompano Youth Treatment Center have also introduced debate as a part of their curriculum, and both programs have been participating in debate competitions across the school district.

Last week, the student debate team from the BYTC participated in a mock debate for Broward County’s Teen Summit.  The summit was hosted by the Broward County School Board and their partners.  The skills the BYTC debate team learned were apparent during their debate sessions.  The debate topic was “Restorative justice programs should replace current punitive measures for juvenile offenders to decrease racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system.”  The BYTC argued the con-side against students from Western High School.

Shown left are the top two BYTC debaters, strategizing a plan.  The BYTC debate team was highly confident after winning the first round of a debate competition at Flannigan High School a few weeks ago.  Once the competition was done, the young men were treated to a fine dining experience.  

2017 DCF Child Protection Summit

In preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Child Protection Summit and with the success of last year’s Tell Me Your Why showcase, DCF announces the newest project to celebrate those who work every day to protect our youth. The 20 Years of Inspiration recognition project will highlight staff members who have dedicated 20 or more years to the child welfare system and serving vulnerable youth in Florida.

The application is open to any child welfare employee and partner in the child welfare system of care who would like to share their inspiration. The application also provides the option to nominate a colleague. Applicants must have worked in the child welfare system for no less than 20 years to be considered. Selected applicants will be recognized at the Child Protection Summit in September 2017.

Complete applications are due by close of business on Friday, April 7, 2017. Submit applications here: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/childwelfare/20years/

Again, all submissions are due via the online form available at the link above by Friday, April 7. If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to Matilda Von Kalm in the DCF Communications Office at 850.717.4607 or Matilda.VonKalm@myflfamilies.com.

Detention Update

As we have showcased many times in the weekly letter, VSAFL supports art education and cultural experiences by conducting art education classes in schools and DJJ facilities across the state. Last week, VSAFL began a 10-week program at the Volusia RJDC for the girls at the facility. The VSA artist, Ms. Rogers, led the girls in a project that involved grating pastels and adhering the shavings to canvas, creating colorful abstracts. All of the girls who participated had a wonderful time! 

The Palm Beach RJDC collaborated with Palm Beach Educational Alternatives last month to celebrate Black History Month with a presentation and luncheon. The facility welcomed career coach Mrs. Horne, whose presentation discussed various individuals who made an impact in everyone’s history. In addition, the education staff at Palm Beach assigned the students a project where they researched and highlighted a prominent figure in black history. After each youth discussed their historical figure, their projects were displayed around the facility.

Afterwards, the luncheon consisted of a special meal that featured several items from the Palm Beach on-site garden including collard greens, cornbread made with peppers from the garden, mac and cheese garnished with herbs from the garden and barbequed chicken and rice.

Education Update

DJJ students from the Eckerd Youth Challenge Program recently participated in the Unbound National Read-A-Thon presented by the Centers for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS). The program competed against 80 other schools across the country and 20 in their own division. The boys from Eckerd finished third in their division.

Eckerd would like to thank the dedicated staff who supported, encouraged, and even read with our boys to help them to achieve this amazing accomplishment.  A great big thank you to Rachael Woods, Bryana Perkins, and Angie Bailey who took charge of this event and made it a success! This would not have happened without their time, effort, and support. This is one more example of what tremendous results our boys and our staff are capable of!  

MIS Update 

What is the cloud?

The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer.  The information being accessed is stored on a network of servers located throughout multiple geographic areas.  Some examples of cloud services include Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Netflix, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.  Do you use any cloud applications at DJJ? (Hint: Office 365)

Prevention Update

The Office of Prevention and Victim Services recently held a training session for all statewide staff at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee. Deputy Secretary Marcus Smith welcomed staff to the training and thanked them for working to fulfill DJJ policy initiatives, while Assistant Secretary Alice Sims thanked her staff members for their teamwork and efforts to assist our agency with our reform work.

Staff listened to presentations from Bureau Chief of Finance & Accounting Libby Grimes, who discussed the proper method to prepare travel documents and Bureau Chief of Human Resources Dodie Garye, who provided an update on PeopleFirst. In addition, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Gayla Sumner and Senior Behavior Analyst Joy Bennick, both from the Office of Health Services, discussed trauma-informed care. GOC II Jon Howard from Staff Development and Training led a team building exercise, GOC II Travis Ligon provided an update on disproportionate minority contact, and Central Communications Center (CCC) Coordinator Jean Hall explained the CCC process. Other presenters included Melba Floyd, procurement specialist; Diamond Ragin, federal program liaison; Patrice Richardson, circuit advisory board coordinator; Craig Swain, faith network coordinator; and Verla Lawson-Grady, community engagement coordinator.

Assistant Secretary Sims also recognized delinquency prevention specialists for their dedicated service to the Office of Prevention. The specialists recognized were Onazina Washington, Circuits 2, 3, & 8; Andria George, Circuits 4, 5, & 7; Dionne Anderson, Circuits 9, 18, & 19 and Marie Boswell, Circuits 11, 15, 16, & 17. Although not in attendance, Lydia Breaux-Davis, Circuits 1 & 14 and Audrey “Pat” McGhee, Circuits 6 ,10, & 13 were also recognized.

During that same Prevention team training, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims recognized CCC Coordinator Jean Hall as Prevention Employee of the Quarter. Ms. Hall was recognized for her dedication and hard work in processing backlogged incident reports when she came on board with the Office of Prevention. 

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended a My Life Youth event at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee. Magellan Complete Care in partnership with the Palmer Munroe, DJJ, and a number of service agencies provided assistance during the My Life Tallahassee Youth Empowerment Event.

MY LIFE’s monthly events feature inspirational speakers, uplifting entertainment, fun activities, information on a variety of topics important to youth and free food. My Life is a fun and inspiring group servicing youth between the ages of 13 to 23 who have had experiences with mental health, substance abuse, foster care and/or other challenges.

Youth were actively involved in exercises and three high school students volunteered to perform for the evening finale.  They are also active members of My Life Tallahassee. During this session Sam Carter of Carter’s Corner was introduced as the new liaison for My Life Tallahassee.

Residential Update

The youth at Melbourne Center for Personal Growth (MCPG), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., marked its first day with the Breaking Barriers Project.  The youth joined local police officers from the Palm Bay, Rockledge, Melbourne, and Cocoa Police Departments as well as officers from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, members of the Larry Carter Group, Kendall Moore, and Jarvis Wash for an afternoon of getting to know each other through icebreaker exercises and a lunch prepared by the AMIkids culinary staff.

The MCPG students participated in the two-day Breaking Barriers Project events, which included working side by side with local police officers at a Habitat for Humanity work site.  It was an opportunity for the boys to learn how to pull electrical wiring, how to measure, mark, and hang siding properly, and how to do a host of other construction tasks.  

Habitat for Humanity Director of Development & Marketing Pam Davis said, “Habitat was honored to work alongside MCPG AMIkids as we are able to support each other’s mission while encouraging them to discover their potential in a field they may have never considered.  Partnering together also allows them to feel a part of the community as they are truly impacting the future of a Brevard family.” 

Sheriff Wayne Ivey stated, “The Brevard County Sheriff's Office and I are excited to be a part of this new initiative sponsored by AMIkids.  I am a big believer that we have to get to these kids before they get to us and having opportunities like this program to interact in a positive setting with kids is something we always look forward to!”

The youth continued their community service efforts at the Melbourne Public Library.  They were invited by Ms. Diane with Friends of Melbourne Library to assist in unpacking and organizing the books on labeled tables for the annual book sale.  It turned out to be a meditative task that required concentration and attention to detail.  At the same time, it allowed the boys to look at books, videos, and magazines on numerous subjects: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, self-help, gardening, finance, and much more.  Every single book in the library, fiction and non-fiction, holds a new world for someone.  At the same time youth were unpacking books they also were looking for new titles to add to the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth’s book shelves.

Duval Academy have been busy with recent field trips and activities for youth at the program! Nine students from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, enjoyed an educational field trip to the main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.  With the amazing art work all around the massive space, the students reported feeling surrounded by wisdom. Pictured below right are the students at the library with Recreational Therapist Robert Griggs, posing on the grand staircase of the library. 

The Duval youth also received a visit from Tony Dues with the Tulsa Welding School. The students learned about the school, the different skills they could learn, and how they may benefit by being a Tulsa Welding School graduate.  The boys were eager to learn and had all kinds of questions at the end of the presentation.

Pictured above: Tony Dues (shown standing in front of the youth).

The Duval Academy youth also learned CPR and first aid, earning certification that will help them gain employment. Now, these boys can respond to common first aid emergencies. Pictured below are Case Manager Orville West, teacher Ms. Woolbright, and CPR instructor Ms. Felicia as well as Duval youth practicing taking part in the CPR training. 

Finally, a group of Duval Academy residents were special guests at the Evangel Temple Church along with Nathan Morris as shown below.  The boys really enjoyed the service and are still talking about how awesome it was!

Three young men recently earned their high school diplomas at the Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC). Special thanks to Broward County Schools for their continued support and for pushing the young men to be better versions of themselves.  The three students were recognized for their determination and achievements, and this marks a total of five students who have received their high school diplomas since the beginning of 2017.  The students enjoyed a graduation ceremony with their peers to celebrate their accomplishments.  

Probation Update

Circuit 14 Reform Specialist Heather Nowell attended an in-service training day at St. Andrews Elementary School in Panama City on March 1. St. Andrews is an alternative elementary school which specializes in youth who have special needs or have experienced behavioral problems at other schools.

Heather gave a presentation on the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence and explained what kind of alternative services are available to the youth at St. Andrews. She expressed that our goal is to divert these youth away from or being further involved in the juvenile justice system. 

Pictured above: Reform Specialist Heather Nowell (front left) with teachers & staff of St. Andrews Elementary School.

Circuit 16 Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson conducted a “Lead & Seed” training program at the St. Paul AME Church in Marathon February 25 and 26. This group consisted of six youth and three adults and the environmental focus topic for the group was marijuana.

“Lead & Seed” is a youth empowered, evidence-based environmental approach to preventing and reducing alcohol consumption, teen tobacco use, drug use and prescription drug misuse in a community.