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Secretary's Message

June 12, 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

DJJ Staff Attend Training Sessions and Workshops

The Orange RJDC welcomed Operations Assistant Division Manager Tiffany Hiatt from the Juvenile Division of the Orange County Clerk of Courts to the facility on June 7 who gave our officers an in-depth training.

The clerk's office trained staff on utilizing the court’s computer system to access youth court information in order to better serve youth in detention. 

The Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) held their Annual MQI Work Papers Workshop from May 22 through May 26, at the Florida Sheriff’s Association Conference Center. During this week, the MQI Team compared the existing work papers against the recently revised and updated Department Monitoring and Quality Improvement Standards in an effort to increase efficiency, reduce duplication, and enhance transparency. In addition, the MQI Team used the opportunity to update their other monitoring instruments including surveys, interviews, observation checklists, review evaluation forms, and program status forms.

The MQI Team invited staff from the various program offices to participate in this review process.  The input of the representatives participating from the Office of Health Services, Office of Education, Office of Staff Development and Training, Office of Detention Services, Office of Probation and Community Interventions, Office of Residential Services, and Office of Prevention and Victim Services, as well as MQI Regional Monitors played a vital role in making this week successful.

Effective July 1, the revised Department Standards will be uploaded and available for reviewing on the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement website. Also, effective July 1, the MQI review team will begin using these new work papers, which will result in a more efficient and effective monitoring process throughout the next fiscal year monitoring cycle.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended the Circuit 2 Advisory Board’s mentoring training on April 22 at the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Pastor Ernie Sims opened the forum and introduced guest speaker, Executive Director Tony Read of Project Connect. Project Connect, which serves over 40 counties, is contracted by DJJ to provide transitional services in the north region of Florida for youth who are making the transition from residential commitment programs back into their communities under conditional release or community probation.

The main focuses of the training were to explain the types of mentoring, DJJ safety and security, trauma-informed care, and the protocols for mentoring, which provides services to understand how to work with delinquent youth. Attendees left the forum with a better understanding of the importance of being mentors to youth and also the procedures of becoming a mentor.

The Circuit 20 probation team has partnered with the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership (HTAP) program for Southwest Florida to implement an Artreach Program to raise awareness for at-risk youth. Artreach has worked through the United Way to provide education and awareness of HT issues to church groups, local junior leagues, juvenile detention centers, school systems and afterschool programs, such as the STAR complex in Ft. Myers. Their art has been on display through ArtOrg on Sanibel Island and through the Naples Art Association.

SJPO Peter Knowler (pictured far left) JPOSs Sandra Burgado and Melanie Ross Martinez and JPO Christopher Geraci completed the ArtReach Train-the-Trainer information session on May 19. This one-day hands on training was designed to advance social and communication skills and has been expanded to build knowledge and awareness of HT issues as well as to integrate abilities among those involved to work toward shared ideas in completing a project. ArtReach met with Knowler and ACPO Lut Clarcq prior to the training session and were excited for the opportunity to be proactive in the local community raising awareness for human trafficking issues. 

Juvenile Justice Academy Graduation

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice probation officers (JPO) who graduated at the Florida Public Safety Institute on May 25th.  Thanks to Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht for delivering the graduation address for the JPO graduation. Kudos to Learning Consultant Christina Ash for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the office locations listed next to their names.

Back Row (Left to right):  Jamie Henderson (Tampa), Taylor Brown (Tampa), Kellie White (Orlando), Denise Tate (Naples), Lonna Turner (Bartow), Ofiela Dennis (Tampa)

Middle Row:  Roshaonda McGowan (Panama City), Stephanie Caraballo (Bartow), Dorcas Morriseau (Jacksonville), Yahaira Gonez-Jesus (Kissimmee), Katherine Lathuras (Orlando), Cierra Cummings (Jacksonville), Brooke Fadeley (Naples), Lysa Antoine (Bartow), Matthew Hudson (Naples)

Front Row: Jill Knazur (Daytona Beach), Audrey Smith (Pensacola), Soraya Meira (Orlando), Brandy Dames (Miami), Zakeirra Jernigan (Kissimmee)

DJJ Staff and Stakeholders Celebrate Youth Successes 

You remember that day, that day when you graduated from high school, you’ll never forget how that felt. If you graduated a child, it’s one of the proudest moments of your life. After a great year of hard work, 9 students graduated from AMIkids PCMI; one with a regular diploma and 8 with GED’s! Many are already planning on attending college, one is already attending Haney Technical Institute and almost all of them have jobs!!! School board members, parents, PCMI staff, juvenile probation officers, and PCMI volunteer board members came out last Friday to see their kids graduate. Fair winds and following seas, graduates! 

The Circuit 6 Community Re-Entry Team (CRT) and Eckerd’s Project Bridge program came together to celebrate the successes of youth AH on June 6. AH is an eighteen-year-old who successfully completed his residential program on January 17 and voluntarily participated in Project Bridge. AH realized he needed help and that Project Bridge could help him. Since then, AH has excelled in the program and participates in all of the services they provide. He attends the Adopt-a-Road cleanup events, confers with a mentor, participates in an employment training weekly, attended the behind the scenes at Fox 13 News and took a 6-week education and leadership course. AH shared his story during the CRT meeting and was celebrated for the changes made in his life and was presented with a certificate of recognition.

The Kiwanis Club partners hosted a breakfast for the Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., to recognize student of the month B.R. (pictured right).  He was presented with a certificate of achievement and a $20 gift certificate.  B.R. has maintained good behavior and has remained at the top of the C.A.P chart for the past four weeks.  He is also working on earning a GED®.  B.R. is a leader in the program and shows new residents how to progress successfully, taking advantage of the positive program opportunities at EBB.

DJJ Works With Local Schools Systems to Promote Transition and Diversion

CPO Peg Lamarca and ACPO Lut Clarcq received a commendation letter from Transition Specialist Re’Joyce Baskin from the Lee County School District on June 7 to applaud our JPOs in Lee, Collier and Hendry counties for getting the youth in their care ready to transition back into a regular school setting. The letter can be seen right. 

JPOs Frank Grant, Rebekah Wilson and Kyle Marks from Circuit 15 participated in Career Day at Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach. These officers talked to a group of fourth and fifth grade students about their careers of juvenile probation officers. The youth were well-mannered, good listeners and very inquisitive. Many of the students asked multiple questions about the job responsibilities of a JPO. Staff also talked to the youth about the importance of staying in school and avoiding any delinquent behaviors.

Last week, County Commissioner Lumon May served as a motivational guest speaker for the young men at Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc.  Commissioner May was the keynote speaker at the Annual High School/High Tech Boys Base Luncheon.  He talked about the importance of good decision making and being a positive member of the community.  Many thanks go to Ronald Rivera for arranging the event.

Prevention, Probation, and Residential Staff Attend Events to Help Strengthen DJJ in the Local Community

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell attended the Black Girls Matter Miami Girls Leadership Summit on May 18 at the Weber Grand Hall on the campus of Barry University in Miami Shores. The Miami Black Girls Matter Coalition sought to address the many odds facing young women of color in America. From public education to the criminal justice system, the various institutions that come in contact with black and brown youth fail to address issues that disproportionately impact young women and girls of color.

The leadership summit brought together youth, parents, community members and educators to discuss the challenges faced by girls of color. These include school pushout, sexual violence and a lack of access to mental health and reproductive services.

During the Summit, girls shared their experiences through visual art, poetry and dance, and presented their vision and desires for improving Miami-Dade County Public schools. The Summit also featured workshops and a panel discussion on why Black girls matter and the critical supports they need to lead socially, emotionally and sexually healthy lives.

SJPO LaSheri Baker, JPOs Felicia Fowler and LeAndrea Darden and Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist from Circuit 19 participated in the Health, Wellness and Safety Fair of St. Lucie County. The event provided our staff members a great avenue to connect with members of the community, discuss juvenile justice initiatives and network with community partners.

CPO Wydee’a Wilson, ACPO Dorothy Malik, SJPO George Connolly and JPO LeAndrea Darden attended the second annual Children’s Hero of the Year Award Ceremony presented by Eckerd Kids. The ceremony was organized to recognize individuals and organizations that selflessly support and assist youth in the Fort Pierce community. This event included a brunch, entertainment, and an awards ceremony celebrating our local heroes. 

On June 2, North Regional Residential Services Director Billy Starke and Duval Academy Facility Administrator Albert Chester were celebrity servers at the 23rd Annual Miracle on Ashley Street event held in Jacksonville.  This is a major event in Jacksonville hosted by the Clara White Mission and its phenomenal leader Jacoby Pittman.  Local chefs and students in the culinary program prepare the food while local, state, and national celebrities volunteer to serve the homeless and all who come out to enjoy a meal.  More than 1,500 meals were served and everyone enjoyed the food, entertainment, and fellowship.

Detention Staff Welcomes Step Team, Organizes a Barbeque for their Youth and Work on Trauma-Informed Care Practices 

The Orange RJDC welcomed a choir and stomp team from the First Baptist Church of Nicoma Park, Oklahoma to their facility on May 30. The team completed a performance of “My Story,” which consisted of songs and stomp performances designed to be both moving and uplifting. The group from Oklahoma was in Orlando all of last week performing at several organizations around the city, including: The Second Harvest Food Bank, Universal Studios, Lake Eola Park and the Orlando Rescue Mission. 

Staff members from the St. Lucie RJDC organized a series of fun activities for our youth on Memorial Day. Aside from the food, snacks and drinks, the youth participated in a variety of games including a sack race, foot race, Frisbee toss, musical chairs, flag football, hula-hoops and a watermelon eating contest. All of the youth who participated had a wonderful time! 

Keeping in line with the Department’s trauma-informed care, the Escambia RJDC has made some significant upgrades to the walls within the girls-mod of the facility. The mod, affectionately known as the Princess Room, has softer and gentler artwork on the walls. 

Prevention Staff Perform Compliance Monitoring

Federal Programs Manager Yvonne Woodard, Federal Grants Coordinator Craig Clampett, Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin, Federal Programs Liaison Diamond Ragin, Budget Assistant Sharee Thomas and G4S Compliance Specialist Steve Endicott attended the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention compliance monitoring site visit on May 18 at the Sheriff’s offices in Franklin and Wakulla Counties.

The purpose of these visits were to observe and check for a special purpose to ensure that the new requirements of the Juvenile Justice Compliance Manual are implemented. Some of the requirements include:

  • De-institutionalization of status and non-offenders;
  • No sight or sound contact between adult and youth offenders in adult jails, lockups or institutions;
  • To remove juveniles from adult jails and lockups within 6 hours.

DJJ staff accompanied Steve Endicott, G4S compliance specialist, during four site visits that included a facility tour, administrative review, and meetings at Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Jail and Courthouse with Captain John Summerhill and then briefly with Sheriff A.J. Smith. They also visited the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office Jail and Courthouse with Lt. Lindsey Maxwell and Captain Herman Whaley Jr.

Pictured above (from left to right): Yvonne Woodard; Steve Endicott; Diamond Ragin; Captain Herman "Chuck" Whaley, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office; Gloria Gatlin; Craig Clampett and Sharee Thomas.

Residential Youth Prepare for the Outside World with Life Skills and Job Training

The youth at Residential Alternatives for the Mentally Challenged (RAM-C), a non-secure program for boys, ages nine to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., participated in a career day designed to inspire and empower the boys with the skills needed to get and keep a job as well as function independently as adults.  The boys participated in four different group lessons by local community businesses: Insurance Importance by State Farm, Better Banking by Wells Fargo, Dress for Success by Men’s Warehouse, and How to Ace the Job Corps Admission Process by local rep Phyllis Dantzler.  

In addition to these four lessons the boys also participated in mock interviews with a variety of companies to get experience with all sorts of employers.  Leading up to the event Nicole Miller and Maryssa Block taught interviews skills as a series of fun, engaging activities.  They also purchased and arranged the donation of interview clothes for all of the students to feel their best on the big day.  Special thanks go to Panera Bread for donating breakfast for the interviewers.

The companies representing and interviewing the boys were chosen by the youth.  RAM-C also partnered with other DJJ programs to have representatives from Okaloosa and JUST attend.  Each interviewer hosted the mock interviews in the same way they would host interviews in their own companies.  The interviewers provided feedback sheets for each boy to understand how their strengths were perceived and in what areas they need to improve.  The companies represented were Lively Technical Center, Job Corps, Super Lube, ABC Supply Warehouse, Vegas Nights Casino’s, Safe Tec, Panera, Habitat for Humanity, Project Connect, State Farm, Wells Fargo, representatives of the military branches, Liberty JUST Academy, Okaloosa Academy, Men’s Warehouse, Assurance Financial, and the Madison County Schools Transportation.  

Youth from Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc.  who participated in the Department of Labor federally-funded carpentry certification held its graduation.  The youth completed a 20 plus week with four youth receiving their CORE/Carpentry certifications.  Upon completing the program, the career co-coordinator will set the youth up with an interview with a contractor from the youths’ local area.  This is a great opportunity for the young men to use the skills they learned at EBB in a work setting and to earn a living.

Residential Youth Perform Community Service 

Activities Coordinator Trevell Shoemo and Direct Care Staff Steven Lovette from Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., recently escorted five EBB residents in a community service project assisting Warren Jernigan’s organization, Pensacola Pen Wheels 43rd Annual Fishing Rodeo.  This event gives disabled citizens the opportunity to learn to fish and provides a forum where they may interact with each other.  The EBB young men volunteered the entire day and they won the event’s Sportsmanship Award. 

Last weekend, Transition Coordinator Devonte Bess took three residents to the Pensacola Animal Shelter to volunteer.  They spent the day helping with the construction of beds for the puppies and building storage lockers.  They also spent time playing with and feeding the dogs.  The young men enjoyed the experience and look forward to returning for more volunteer work.

Congratulations to the EBB students who participated in Ms. Bowers Book Club. These students have read more than 38,000 pages and shown increases in their reading test scores.  The Book Club started in February and now has more than 25 club members.

Soon, EBB will be participating in the annual AMIkids Summer Challenge.  Six young men were selected to go to Orangeburg, SC and to stay on the campus of South Carolina State.  They have been training with staff for several weeks and are in tip-top shape.  This will be EBB’s fourth year participating in the event.  All of the young men are very excited about going and have adopted the motto “All Summer 17.”

EBB’s Director of Operations William Freeman recently was honored by the Pensacola Chapter of the Omega Lamplighters mentoring program for being the staff member of the year.  The program mentors young men, ages 14 to 18, and is very involved in the community.  Program Director Anthony Bowens also attended the 3rd Annual Banquet.  The Lamplighters program has partnered with EBB on several occasions and events.  

This year, youth and staff at Charles Britt Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, wanted to make sure that the family members of fallen service men and women knew that their sacrifices were greatly appreciated.  The youth made cards that they signed and commented about how thankful they are that someone gave their life for our freedoms.  Charles Britt Academy youth and staff then took these cards to Memorial Park in St. Petersburg where they gave them to family members who were visiting their family members’ gravesites.  The boys were not only responsible for making the cards, but they were also responsible for expressing their appreciation to the family members.  One student stated, “It felt great to give back to the community after taking so much away.” 

Residential Youth Learn Yoga and Meet an NBA Legend While a Facility Teams Up With a Detention Center 

The youth at Youth Environmental Services (YES), a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., have been practicing warrior poses during Yoga Group.  AMIkids YES has partnered with Asana Yoga of Brandon Founder and Owner Barbara Moette to provide the boys with an opportunity to learn the practice of yoga.  The boys were a little hesitant at first but warmed right up to the idea of yoga and have since been asking about it on a weekly basis.  Yoga is offered to the boys during group time and serves as a mental health service as they are learning meditation and relaxation techniques that can benefit them greatly.  Yoga is offered every other week and is a balance between general yoga practices and meditation.  Yoga is not a work out based on burning calories, but rather a mind-body workout that is a combination of stretching and strengthening with deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation. 

During the meditation piece of yoga, the instructor makes the room nearly dark, while playing relaxing music.  The instructor then verbally takes them on a journey in their mind that puts most of our boys into total relaxation that some of them even fall asleep.  The instructor is amazed at how relaxed some of our boys can get in order to fall asleep, as she notes that most people cannot get to that stage of relaxation so quickly, especially with the environment they are in.  The other part of yoga puts our boys’ strength to the test.  Beginner’s yoga is not easy and our boys can attest to that.  The poses that they have learned over the past few weeks have really challenged them. 

Last week, Charles Britt Academy welcomed a special visit from former NBA champion and current Los Angeles Clipper Marreese Speights.  His visit included a discussion about the importance of restorative justice and giving back to one’s community.

Mr. Speights is a local resident of St. Petersburg and makes it a point to give back to his community.  He emphasized hard work, dedication, the importance of family, and also discussed the importance of team work.  Mr. Speights also showed the staff and youth his championship ring. 

Mr. Speights was so impressed with the behavior and attitudes of the residents that he ordered pizzas for everyone as a way to say thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Speights, for being an amazing example and role model not only to youth in this community, but to youth across the country.

Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC., is part of our community based program and one thing that we as a facility have been successful in doing is formulating an excellent working relationship with our local detention center.  From partnering on a lot of projects and events at each other’s respective facilities, to having representatives sit on each other’s respective advisory boards, to attending a variety of juvenile justice and academic meetings in our local area, the relationship has been mutually beneficial to both facilities.  This past week, courtesy of our vocational program, run by the Home Builders Institute, our youth made and customized corn hole boards and donated the set to the detention center for use when conducting recreational activities with their residents.  This is just a small example of how the two facilities from different branches of the department work collaboratively together to best meet the needs of those in our care.

Pictured above (from left to right): Peggy Laguerre (Palm Beach Youth Academy Community Liaison), Officer Mims (Detention Center Staff), Superintendent Mamine Sanitil (Detention Center) and Detention Staff member Mr. Angel

SD&T Staff Attend National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community

Denise Cannon, learning consultant at Broward College; Artavia Parrish, senior learning specialist at HQ, and Duane Pac, senior learning consultant at the Florida Public Safety Institute, attended the Preventing Crime in the Black Community Conference June 1st -2nd in Orlando.