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Secretary's Message

May 16, 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

Juvenile Justice Leadership Network Meeting

Last week, I attended the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network’s bi-annual meeting at the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform in Washington, D.C. The Juvenile Justice Leadership Network (JJLN), is part of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) and was created to support juvenile justice and probation leaders at the state and local level who are engaged in significant reform efforts in their jurisdictions.  Topics during the meeting included staff recruitment and retention, alternative strategies for youth engagement, and community engagement.

As a proud member of the JJLN, I am always eager to collaborate with other juvenile justice leaders and to share lessons learned as we continue our ongoing reform efforts not only in Florida but across the country.

Florida Network Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony 

Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht attended the annual meeting and awards ceremony for the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services (the Florida Network) in Orlando. This meeting coincided with the Florida Network’s 40th anniversary celebration and Chief of Staff Schuknecht presented a resolution signed by the Governor and Cabinet that recognized the 40-year contribution of the Florida Network to Florida’s youth. The Network continues to serve Florida’s homeless, runaway and troubled youth ages six and older and their families and provides services as a "Children and Families in Need of Services" (CIN/FINS) agency, in order to prevent juvenile delinquency and encourage good choices and healthy family relationships.

Human Resources Training

The Bureau of Human Resources recently conducted a two-day training at the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee. The topics discussed during the training included the new Human Resources Employment System (HRES) and performance management, as well as a presentation on veterans’ preference which was given by Chief of Benefits and Assistance Jim Ansboury from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Bureau Chief T. Dodie Garye would like to thank Mr. Ansboury for providing an excellent overview of veterans’ preference as well as the following DJJ team members: Classification and Recruitment Manager Dexter Bradham, facilitator, and presenters at the meeting, HR Analyst for Classification and Recruitment Keisha Willis and Employee Relations and Records Manager Sylvia Baker.

In addition, on behalf of Chief Garye, I would like to give a special thank you to all of those staff members who contributed to the Human Resources Employment System including: Sharon Arnold, Selena Boles, Donna Gulley, Lee Hartsfield, Srihar Kati, Mohana Paruchuri and Jackie Suttle

Pictured above (left to right):  Sridhar Kati, Jackie Suttle, Dennis Hollingsworth, Dodie Garye, and Mohana Paruchuri

Youth In Custody Practice Model

Last week, DJJ held its fifth site visit for the Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM), in St. Augustine. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the process a youth goes through when transitioning from a residential commitment facility to the home community and how to support that youth in the community.  Additionally, the team discussed the statewide implementation of the YICPM model. 

Those who participated in the conversation were leaders from each of the contracted residential provider corporations, leadership members of the contracted probation aftercare services providers, and DJJ leadership team members from the office of Residential Services, Probation & Community Intervention, Research & Data Integrity, and Education Development.

Last year, DJJ was selected as one of four agencies nationwide to participate in the YICPM by Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR).  In conjunction with the CJJR and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA), 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.  At the inception of this initiative, three DJJ residential programs were selected to serve as pilot sites: Lake Academy, Okaloosa Youth Academy, and Palm Beach Youth Academy.  The YICPM initiative has provided an opportunity for the Department to look at its overall policies, procedures, and practices to identify areas of improvement.

Employee Kudos 

Please join me in congratulating GOC II Lynnesha Sanders from the South Regional Office of Detention Services who received her bachelor’s degree from Florida International University on May 2. Sanders graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice.

Congratulations to Don Shores (center) on his retirement from DJJ. Don was part of the IT Desktop Support team in the Northeast Region and plans to spend the next chapter of his life continuing to travel and explore the hidden treasures across our great country.  On behalf of DJJ, I would like to thank Don for his years of service to the state of Florida and wish him nothing but the best for his retirement. 

Bureaus of General Services and Finance and Accounting Team Up to Train DJJ Staff

On May 4, the Bureau of General Services’ Office of Purchasing along with the Bureau of Finance and Accounting, met with the Central and South field liaisons to provide materials and training relating to the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Blanket Purchase Order processing requirements. There were 17 attendees on site and an additional 14 attended by conference line. This training provided the staff with the tools needed to assist the Department in maintaining compliance with Chapter 287, Florida Statutes, Purchasing Rules and Regulations. This training was also conducted last week on May 10 for North Region and Headquarters staff. 

Education Update

Marion Youth Academy has partnered with Ocala Utilities and Utility Safety and Training Coordinator Glen Moehling to conduct a lesson each month during Mr. Schlosser’s class.

The first lesson was on The Elements of Basic Electricity. Some of the topics the students learned about were the periodic table of elements, the make-up of an atom, the differences between conductors verses insulators, voltage and current. After the lesson each student was able to build a magnet.

All the students were very engaged and truly enjoyed this lesson. Marion Youth Academy and Ocala Utilities are looking forward to this relationship and bringing new and exciting lessons to the students each month.

Detention Update

Sargent Retha Smith from the Leon RJDC organized a spa nail day at the facility for several of her level three girls. All of the girls who participated had a wonderful time of relaxation and beautification. Sargent Smith says she loves keeping her girls looking nice. 

Over the past few months, the Leon RJDC’s aquaponics garden has received some major coverage from local Tallahassee media. As you may recall, the garden came to be with the help of Michele Madison-Corichi and Farming the Future, a STEM-based project that provides interactive learning experiences for community members through aquaponics-based production and 21st century farming.

On May 5, the garden was featured on WFSU’s Local Routes program, which during the program takes viewers on a weekly journey to explore authentic northwest Florida and South Georgia. The story shows how our youth learn everything from plant biology to the nutrient cycle to engineering, and grow food for their cafeteria. To see a clip featuring the Leon RJDC’s garden, click on the image below.

The Miami Dade RJDC recently partnered with Murals Miami to create a mural on the outside wall of the facility. The group came up with a portrait of former Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Ali which symbolizes Ali’s personal struggles to become the greatest boxer of all time. The purpose of the mural is to create a positive atmosphere for the youth during their stay at Miami-Dade RJDC. 

Last week was National Nurses Week and accordingly Major Terry Carter from the Manatee RJDC presented the nursing staff at the facility with a little token of appreciation. Major Carter is proud of the medical staff at Manatee and very appreciative of the work that they do. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Nurse Patricia Rockwell, Medical Records Joanne Thomas, Major Terry Carter and Nurse Mary Cobak. Not pictured: Nurse Charlotte Ward.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) who graduated Friday, April 28, 2017 from the Florida Public Safety Institute.  These detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they wait for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thank you to Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler for delivering the graduation address during the graduation ceremony. Kudos to Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace and Statewide Reviewer Supervisor & Learning Consultant Barbara Campbell for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

1st Row (Left to right):  Jessica Pompey (Leon), Monica Baldwin (Escambia), Patrise Smith (Alachua), Danyelle Hobbs (Leon), Kerri Swafford (Okaloosa), Trishona Young (Escambia), Jessica Lilly (Escambia), James Geneval (Duval)

2nd Row: Liamonti Snyder (Marion), Robert Schwarzbach (Okaloosa) Jason Hendershot (Bay), Susan-Mara Self (Okaloosa), Carter Le (Bay), Daniel Rivera (Alachua), Nikeria Garrett (Okaloosa), Andrew Herring (Volusia), Jakayla Butler (Marion), Paul Miller (Okaloosa), Jordan Coleman (Marion), Zachary Dark (Bay)

3rd Row: Derrick Holmes (Leon), Devonte Threatt (Leon), Arrington Davis (Volusia), Joshua Di Gesu (Bay), Scotty Walker (Bay), Robert Ross (Escambia), Damion Michael (Leon), Dylan Jodrey (Volusia), James Ake (Volusia)

Probation Update 

In Circuit 8, Project Connect Lead Transition Specialist Nazia Basha recruited eight volunteers, including the pastor and members of Open Door Ministries, to become life coaches for the mentoring component of Project Connect services.  These mentors will be trained in the Project Connect mentoring model and join a pool of other qualified mentors in being matched with post-commitment and/or probation youth throughout Circuit 8.   

Mentoring is an important aspect of the Project Connect model as it establishes safe connections for youth in their community who can provide guidance and counsel helping youth stay on the right path toward success.  It is an important part of Project Connect’s permanency planning.  We thank Pastor Tim Jones of Open Door Ministries for his leadership in this endeavor and his willingness to guide his church toward true community service by serving and meeting an important need.  

I am pleased to share the following success story from our Project Connect program in Circuit 5:

Jonathan is a 14-year-old direct discharge youth from a residential commitment program.  He was offered transition services through his JPO and accepted, voluntarily, to participate in Project Connect because he wanted to get the best start (or re-start if you will) possible once he returned home.  Jonathan's goals included not merely starting back to school but he wanted to improve his attention and reduce impulsivity, goals that were identified in the Project Connect service needs assessment process.  He wanted to be a role model for his siblings as identified during his Family Reintegration Circle, work towards getting his driver's license permit, and pursue a college scholarship for boxing.  

Jonathan greatly appreciated the mentoring he received, especially from his Transition Specialist saying, "I ask you things because I know you will give me good advice."  In addition, he stated, "I liked how it got me closer to starting a career." and "I wish the program could last a lot longer.” 

Jonathan was not the only one who was satisfied with the probation aftercare experience.  Jonathan's mom told the transition specialist, "Before Project Connect, Jonathan was never home.  He was always out somewhere and I didn't know where.  When he would come home I would ask him where he was and he would act angry and not talk to me.  Now I always know where he is.  He is home and he is full of love.  He talks to me and he's affectionate.  He listens to me now.  He works better at school.  I can have good conversations with him now.  Jonathan stays home now and is not out in the neighborhood all the time.  Our relationship has greatly improved."

Circuit 11 DJJ staff teamed with Miami Dade Juvenile Services Department, Restore Joy and Trust, and City of Miami Gardens Councilman Rodney Harris, to provide support for the third annual Mother’s Day Tea presented by the Young Parents Project. The Young Parents Project serves young mothers who are involved with either DJJ or DCF and girls who participate in the program receive parenting skills, therapy, nutritional, and wellness support. DJJ staff members made Mother’s Day baskets for the event that serve as encouragement and reward for the girls’ efforts to become responsible, healthy, educated moms.  

Circuit 13 Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney gave a presentation about our agency during the Hillsborough Children’s Committee on May 5 in Tampa. The Hillsborough Children’s Committee is a part of the local DCF Advisory Board made up of state agencies, DCF stakeholders and community members. DJJ is represented on the committee by Reform Specialist Pinkney and GOC Ryan Egg.

The Reform Corner

On May 5th, Circuit 3 held their EPICS graduation ceremony. Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) is an evidence-based practice for moderate-high and high-risk youth which helps them develop the skills they will need to make better choices. 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.

Since August of 2016 when the circuit began its Phase I training in EPICS, the staff have done an excellent job of grasping the components of EPICS and in making it a part of how they do business daily with their youth. The circuit is at 100 percent proficient, which is a stellar accomplishment. Congratulations to the entire circuit for their hard work and passion in making a difference in the lives of each youth. I’d like to thank EPICS trainer, Randy Reynolds for being an amazing support to the circuit during this entire training process. Excellent job well done to everyone!

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.

Prevention Update

The PACE Center for Girls of Alachua County hosted its third annual Girls Rock Rally on March 15 at the P.K. Yonge Development Research School in Gainesville. The rally served as an opportunity to spread the PACE mission and provide outreach, and help the girls get involved in the community. Attendees enjoyed music by DJ E-Lo, relay games, cash prizes, vendors, as well as performances by University of Florida student organizations – all to celebrate the awesomeness of being a girl.

PACE officials scheduled the rally during the late afternoon to provide a fun and safe alternative to idle afterschool activity. PACE Alachua, which was founded in 1998, has served over 1,500 girls in its 19-year history by providing educational resources, counseling, career training, and advocacy.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell conducted a site visit at Koinonia Village in Pembroke Park. “Koinonia” is the Greek word for “fellowship” and the program provides services to at-risk youth between the ages of 5-15 including academic assistance, life skills, sports development, mentoring, parental involvement workshops and community services projects. The program also features the Community Reconstruction Housing Corporation, which provides life skills sessions to the young men participating in the program.

Staff provided a brief tour of the village and Assistant Secretary Sims shared words of encouragement with the youth and the staff. 

Pictured above: Alice Sims and Marie Boswell (seated in front row) with staff and youth of the Koinoina Village in Pembroke Park.

Residential Update

The youth at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently participated in an open mic night. During the event, Frank Hookfin shared his testimony with the youth, explaining that he spent several weeks unconscious earlier this year and he looked upon that experience as being given a new lease on life.

Frank’s story of how he came to be unconscious and what his recovery means to him inspired the boys to return to their communities as positive influences on society.  He explained that as long as one has the gift of life, one can overcome adversity and leave a positive mark upon the world.  His story inspired the residents and the staff members. Afterward, everyone enjoyed food, music, and conversations.

Youth enrolled in the Home Builders Institute vocational program at the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is G4S Youth Services, LLC, are putting the carpentry skills they’ve learned in the class room to good use by building a work shop and furniture for the class. 

Most importantly, they are gaining job-related skills and working to achieve industry-recognized certifications. These skills will help them to secure employment upon release from the program and become productive members of society and their communities.   

Two students from Highlands Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 19, which is operated by G4S Youth Service, LLC, recently enjoyed the fruits of their educational labor by earning their high school diplomas.  Both young men met the state requirements of a standardized high school diploma, were honored with a graduation ceremony, and are preparing for their pursuits of college degrees. 


Pictured right is the team of educational and direct care staff members who labor in the castle of knowledge at Highlands Youth Academy.  During Teacher Appreciation Week, team members received acknowledgements and tokens of appreciation from the residents and staff members for their hard work and commitment to service.