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Secretary's Message

July 25, 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

State Advisory Group Holds Quarterly Meeting in Jacksonville

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) during their quarterly meeting in Jacksonville. I thanked the SAG members for their hard work and diligence in helping our agency fulfill its public safety mission. I then had the opportunity to present awards to all of our SAG members for their service. It was honor to recognize outgoing member Alan Abramowitz as Alan has served as a SAG member for nine years, and we are fortunate to have had such a dedicated and knowledgeable person serve on the SAG.

I would also like to thank the following DJJ employees who made remarks and presentations during the meeting: Office of Prevention Policy Chief Marcus Smith, Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodward, Program Accountability Director Amy Johnson and JDAI Coordinator Minnora Bishop.

Pictured above (from left to right): Dwayne Maddron, Alan Abramowitz and Secretary Daly.

During the two-day meeting, I along with the SAG members had the opportunity to tour the Youth Crisis Center (YCC) of Jacksonville and hear from YCC President and CEO Kim Sirdevan and YCC Director of Program Services Cecelia Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs. The mission of YCC is to provide safe shelter for at-risk children and youth, counseling for families in crisis, links to community resources, and life skills training for at-risk adolescents emerging into adulthood; all with the goal of strengthening families and restoring hope. The SAG also participated in a tour of the Delores Barr Weaver program at George Washington Carver Elementary School.

Pictured above: Kim Sirdevan (standing at left) speaks during tour of the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville.

Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet Summer Retreat

On Thursday, I participated in the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Planning Retreat at the University of South Florida in Tampa. During the meeting, Cabinet members discussed the member agencies’ long range program plans and how they align to the Cabinet’s scope and mission. The Cabinet also heard from speakers regarding the National KIDS COUNT Profile and discussed data specific to Florida. 

The Children and Youth Cabinet, now in its tenth year, is charged with promoting and implementing collaboration, creativity, increased efficiency, information sharing and improved service delivery between and within state agencies and organizations that serve Florida’s Children.

Staff Announcements and Kudos

I am pleased to announce that Rebecca Rogers has been appointed as the new Circuit 8 chief probation officer (CPO). CPO Rogers has served at DJJ for the last nineteen years, most recently as assistant chief probation officer in Circuit 8. Prior to that, Ms. Rogers worked as a juvenile probation officer supervisor for twelve years and a juvenile probation officer for five years. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position, and we look forward to her continued success in Circuit 8.  Please join me in congratulating her on her new position!  

Detention Facility Administers Oath of Office to New Cadets

Major Dennis Driscoll from the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) administered the oath of office to three of his new cadets at the facility. After taking the oath, each of the officers were presented with their new badges. The new cadets include: Jasmin Moore, Felipe Vasquez and Luis Hernandez-Garcia as well as Chrystal Drouin and Ryan Reid who were absent from the ceremony. Southwest also thanks Training Coordinator Patrick Thomas for all of his assistance. 


The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center also hosted their first ever family dog visit for a young lady who was about to leave the facility for her residential placement. Shown right is Detention Officer Supervisor Roberto Santiago with the parents of the youth and her dog Luna. Luna has always been a friend to the youth and helps to relieve her anxiety. 

Superintendent Terry Carter from the Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted his second town hall style meeting of the year for staff members. The focus of this town hall centered on the topic of suicide awareness with training provided by licensed mental health practitioner Chima Hope-Lubin and nurse Kripa Varghese. The training was followed by a luncheon which featured fish, chicken and an array of side items. During the meal, Major Carter spoke about the goals for his facility; specifically, the new facility operating procedures for the new fiscal year.  

Prevention Provider PACE Center for Girls Celebrates Graduates 

PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville celebrated 26 girls who completed high school during a graduation ceremony held at Jacksonville University.

The keynote speaker was Florida State Senator Aaron Bean who shared an inspirational story about a small brick.  Senator Bean used the analogy to highlight obstacles that could prevent us all from achieving our goals – sometimes even the smallest thing can derail us. Senator Aaron Bean was also awarded the “Believing in Girls Legislative Award,” for his continued support of girls and advocating for the problems they encounter. Many of the graduates will be continuing their education at Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, and various technical schools.

Congratulations to all the graduates from PACE Duval and also from other PACE locations in Orange, Hillsborough, Alachua and Collier counties!

Assistant Secretary for Prevention & Victim Services Alice Sims received a Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Council on Crime & Delinquency (FCCD), Chapter VII. Assistant Secretary Sims was recognized for her efforts to forge stronger alliances between DJJ and the FCCD.

Pictured above (from left to right): Dr. Laura Bedard, Chief of Corrections and Judicial Services, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office; Ernie Sims Jr.; Alice Sims; and Angeli Williams, Orange County Corrections Department

Among the partnerships are the community engagement displayed at recent Bridging the G.A.A.P. conversations. G.A.A.P. is an acronym for Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives. The purpose of the G.A.A.P. discussions is to improve communications between youth and members of law enforcement. The FCCD teamed with DJJ to conduct a G.A.A.P. discussion in Wesley Chapel that featured youth and law enforcement officers from the Pasco County area. What started as a tense discussion thawed significantly once participants grew more comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas. The G.A.A.P. was coordinated by Pat McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 6, 10, 13, 12, and 20.  The FCCD also partnered with DJJ to deliver a GAAP discussion at the Sanford Civic Center in Seminole County. Topics included perceptions of one another and respecting others when interacting in the community.  Assistant Secretary Sims motivated the youth to be positive influences and encouraged members of law enforcement and youth to work together to build stronger relationships.

Residential Youth Participate in Young Men’s Workshop and Day of Fun

Last week, 10 young men from Charles Britt Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, participated in a Young Men’s Workshop, hosted by local community partners at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. The workshop dealt with the very complex question of “What does it mean to be a man?” 

The boys expressed their concepts of what being a man is to each of them; how they are sometimes prematurely thrust into the role because of certain situations; and how they plan to break the cycle of having fatherless homes by being a positive example to their children and community of what being a man means. 

We are proud of the young men at Charles Britt Academy for opening up and letting their voices be heard in this community forum. Many thanks go to All Children’s Hospital for this valuable opportunity for our youth and for the Charles Britt Academy staff.  

Last week, the Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, selected six youth to participate on the program’s Youth Advisory Board.  The residents were selected based upon their consistently positive behaviors and demonstrated leadership qualities. These youth were rewarded with Taco Bell for their accomplishments and newly acquired roles in the facility. As Youth Advisory Board Members these youth will be the voices for the youth in the program and provide staff with innovative and creative ideas to enhance the program. The youth meet weekly to discuss the state of the program and the direction they would like to see it go by suggesting incentives, outings and program improvements.

At Cypress Creek, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, the youth participated in a day of water fun. There were friendly speed races down the double slide, dunk tank splashes, and youth raced to catch others to spray with the super soakers. There was also grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for all youth and staff to enjoy and snow-cones were served up by staff. This fun water day was a success and all departments played a part in the process. Youth enjoyed their time at the water day and it was wrapped up just in time as the usual Florida afternoon thunderstorms rolled in.

Probation Staff Engage Community Members 

Assistant Chief Probation Officer Dorothy Malik and Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist from Circuit 19 attended the Unity in the Community event hosted by the Fort Pierce Police Department. The event was designed to bring local community providers together to distribute information and connect with the citizens of Fort Pierce. The police department provided a bounce house for the kids and cooked hot dogs and barbeque. 

Pictured above (from left to right): ACPO Dorothy Malik, Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson and RS Christopher Seagrist

Circuit 16 JPOS Paul Armstrong attended the first of two human trafficking group meetings in the Upper Florida Keys. The group, which consists of law enforcement, providers and community stakeholders, was looking to define DJJ’s purpose as it relates to our efforts in curbing human trafficking. In addition, the group is looking to facilitate outreach, raise awareness and education on how to take action. 

Standing (from left to right):  Mark Olshansky, Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, Paul Armstrong, C-16 JPOS, Pamela Washington, FBI Victim Specialist, Vicky Fay, Sunshine Printing Owner, Amber Whiteman and Nat Whitehouse, with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

Sitting (from left to right): Ben Kemmer, Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, Adriane Ressy, Executive Director of Human Trafficking Coalition (1HTC), Karen Holmes, Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. 

Congratulations to the following Project Bridge students in the South Region who earned their GEDs. I’m pleased to share their success stories below. 

“Jason Perez is one of the most respectful kids I have been around in my time with Eckerd,” says Circuit 11 GED Instructor Aaron Strumski. Jason was focused to achieve his GED for the sake of his young daughter and came into services each and every day with the mindset of getting better with whatever subject that was placed in front of him. Strumski believes that Jason is one of the best success stories that Eckerd ever had. This young man came to Eckerd with just two practice tests passed and in just over a month’s time, accomplished two more practice tests and all four official GED tests!  

In Circuit 17, Jamanic was all smiles!  Jamanic is a bright young man, who admits he has not always made good decisions. Jamanic was referred to Project Bridge more than once and each time we’ve noticed small, important changes. His attendance has improved, and we’ve learned how to work with him to help him along the way.  Jamanic earned his GED with Project Bridge in June, and we could not be prouder of this young man.  We know there are so many possibilities for Jamanic in the future.  We are happy we could help him on his path.  Jamanic hopes to go to college and become a lawyer and we look forward to seeing Jamanic achieve his dreams.