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Secretary's Message

August 8, 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 Holds Final Site Visit for the Youth in Custody Practice Model 

Last week, the Department held its final site visit for the Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM), in Tallahassee, in conjunction with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.  The focus of the meeting was to discuss the statewide implementation of the YICPM model, provide an overview of the YICPM Data and Evaluation Component, and offer reflections on the first 18-months of activities. 

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, Health Services, Programming and Technical Assistance, Staff Development and Training, and Education Development.  

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 project, three DJJ residential programs were selected to serve as pilot sites: Lake Academy, Okaloosa Youth Academy, and Palm Beach Youth Academy.  The YICPM project has provided an opportunity for the Department to look at its overall policies, procedures, and practices to identify areas of improvement. 

Detention Facility Welcomes Former Harlem Globetrotter

Former Harlem Globetrotter and professional basketball player Alexander Wright recently stopped by the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) to visit with the youth. Mr. Wright shared his life story to help uplift their spirits. In addition, Wright impressed them with his silky-smooth moves on the basketball court. Thank you to Mr. Wright for taking the time out to visit the detention center and speak with our youth. 

The St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted a retirement luncheon forassistant public defender Michelle McMurtry. Ms. McMurtry has not only served as a wonderful advocate for our youth, but has made a true impact on the detention staff from St. Lucie as well. St. Lucie RJDC would like to thank Public Defender Diamond Litty, Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson, Commitment Manager Steve Basty, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Robert Fino and South Regional Director for Detention Services Kevin Housel for their attendance. Ms. McMurtry plans to remain on the St. Lucie detention center advisory board after her retirement. 

The Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed their newest canine friend from the Teens Assisting Puppies program in partnership with the Pixel Fund on August 1. The puppy’s name is Senga and she has already begun to make herself right at home throughout the facility. The youth are already beginning to work with Senga on her manners and commands and she is already fitting in nicely with the youth at Pasco. 

DJJ Education Staff Train in the Unjammed Curriculum

Marion Youth Academy and Marion Regional Detention were selected to participate in “Unjammed,” which is offered through the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS).

Unjammed is a year-round program that is centered on a multi-day intensive training on blended learning held in late July each summer.  They are now more than 150 people (teachers, administrators, and secure care staff) from nearly 70 juvenile justice facilities that have participated in Unjammed.  

One of the most unique aspects of Unjammed is that it brings teams of teachers and administrators together for a summer ‘tech camp,’ centered on a common goal. This creates momentum to change the policies and day-to-day practices that can stymie innovation and impede education reform in juvenile facilities. Once teams return to their facilities after the summer camp, CEEAS continues to work with the agencies participating in Unjammed by offering intensive coaching and peer support to the teachers, and ongoing technical support to agency administrators.

The teachers and administrators participated in creating a cardboard arcade game and presenting it to the group. The teachers also had an opportunity to present to the entire group on their individual plans to incorporate more technology in their own classrooms. 

Probationary Youth Take Career Advancement Tours

AMIkids-Orlando has been teaching their kids about career and post-secondary educational opportunities over the summer. Over the last week, AMI Career Coordinator Darien Hopkins has taken his youth on field trips to discover what options are open to them once they graduate. The trips included visits to the University of Florida and Full Sail University Winter Park. In addition, they also toured Regal Marine, the largest boating manufacturer in Orlando. Here, the youth watched as a speed boat was being constructed. Several young men inquired about employment at Regal, specifically because they did not necessarily need a degree to work there.

Mr. Hopkins has several tours lined up for the next few weeks including trips to Valencia College, the University of Central Florida, Orlando Technical College and Bethune-Cookman University. In addition, he has set up visits with a local fire station as well as a tour of the News 13 studios in Orlando.


DJJ youth in Circuit 19 had the opportunity to attend a live teen drama about human trafficking.  The play was dramatized by their peers and produced by the END IT! (Everybody’s not doing it) Corporation and was held at the historic downtown Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, FL.  Youth had the opportunity to learn that human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and that they can be young children, teenagers, men and women. They also learned that trafficking in persons occurs throughout the world including the United States, even in their own communities. The plays also hit topics on bullying, cyber-bullying and date rape drugs. Youth MT stated that this was the best play that he has ever attended and all the youth enjoyed themselves immensely. The message meant so much more because it was conveyed by their peers and classmates.

Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Paul Hatcher recently visited AMIkids in Gadsden County. On the day of Hatcher’s visit, the facility was fully engaged, utilizing their time to learn more about what it means to be a part of AMIkids Gadsden. Mr. Hatcher spoke to the youth and told them that he wanted to know them not necessarily because of their involvement with DJJ, but because they were doing great things. 

DJJ youth from AMIkids Gadsden also attended a workshop on water quality and water science at the Millstone Institute for Preservation on July 27. The students who attended learned about the water cycle, aquifers, watershed, erosion, and the effects of pollution and run off on water quality.  The youth gained valuable experience testing water samples for levels of pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, turbidity, and phosphate. After the workshop the students were treated to lunch at the Institute and were taught the art of disc golf by semi-pro player Danny Nunez.

DJJ’s Gubernatorial Fellow Alyssa Hernandez from Probation Headquarters and Support Staff member Chad Harvey recently organized a shoe donation drive to benefit residents of Haiti. The donation drive, which was sponsored by Alyssa’s sorority, collected over 100 pairs of men, women, youth and baby shoes. 

Director of Policy and Programming from the Office of Probation and Community Intervention Jeannie Becker-Powell and OMC II from the Office of Residential Services Lytha Belrose hosted case study discussions in both Circuit 18 and Circuit 12, respectively. The case studies are a component of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project where DJJ staff and our stakeholders come together to dissect closed cases; examining the services and interventions that were provided to the youth and the families during supervision. The primary goal of the case studies is to identify strengths and gaps in the services to improve service delivery. 

The Circuit 19 Probation Office held their annual Back to School Bash. Local youth and their families in the community were treated to food and refreshments while listening to community providers and stakeholders provide valuable information and answer any questions these families had. The youth in attendance received backpacks stuffed with school supplies which were donated by probation unit 201.

Probationary youth in Palm Beach County participated in a Summer Olympics event, which was organized by juvenile probation officers from Circuit 15, law enforcement agencies and community volunteers. Over 116 youth participated in the Games and prepared for the competition for over two weeks. The youth competed in an array of events including basketball, track and field and flag football.

Youth had the opportunity to develop appropriate social skills by working with other youth of different ages, ethnicities and genders, thereby building self-esteem and positive relationships. Additionally, the youth learned the importance of teamwork and how to positively resolve conflicts and deal with multiple pressure levels through competitive challenges. 

Circuit 15 Chief Probation Officer Gregory Starling would like to thank all of his juvenile probation officer supervisors and their respective units for fully participating in the Summer Olympics and for encouraging intense competition and enthusiasm for all involved.

Paxen Community Connections in Hillsborough County is proud to announce that nine of their youth obtained their GEDs during the 2016-17 school year. Each of these youths displayed an absolute commitment to their education. Their teachers showed dedication in keeping each one of these students on track throughout the process. The graduates took part in a ceremony at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa and each one of them have big plans  including working full time and attending community college.

DJJ youth from the Paxen Community Connections of Osceola County recently toured a local nature preserve at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. The Pioneer Village is comprised of a permanent collection of authentic structures, which once upon a time stood in different areas of Osceola County. This was a unique experience for the youth because it showed antique living essentials from several hundreds of years ago. It was a rewarding experience to walk the grounds and stroll through history at the Pioneer Village.

Paxen Community Connections in both Pasco and Pinellas Counties created programming last month to bring both awareness and education for the prevention of child abuse. After educating youth about child abuse, they made ribbons to support child abuse awareness and went out publicly to share the word.

Both facilities visited places such as parks and libraries to pass out ribbons that honored the victims and shared prevention techniques for those that may be vulnerable.

Staff Development and Training Hosts Detention Officer Job Specific PILOT Training

Staff Development & Training and veteran detention staff throughout the state met at the Florida Public Safety Institute to conduct the juvenile detention officer Job-Specific PILOT Training. The participants gave valuable input throughout the training.  The participants were: William Averhart, Cortez Bell, Eric Buff, Dawn Perkins, Ayo Hinkson, Deidre Holmes and Stephanie McKenzie.  

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremonies

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) and probation officers (JPO) who graduated from Alachua Detention and Broward College on July 28th.  Thanks to Irma Terry, superintendent for Marion RJDC and Dr. Rosby L. Glover, Mount Bethel Human Service Corporation, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO and JPO graduations. Kudos to Data Integrity Officer Laurie Workman, Adjunct Instructors Stephanie McKinzie, Maria Gilhooley and Tahirah Jones, Learning Consultants Christina Ash, Bernard Smith, Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace and Learning Consultant Manager, Andrea Minnis, for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility.

Alachua Detention JDO Class

Back Row (Left to right):  Marcel Pope, Levi Branch, Sage Pino, Curtis Murray, Donavan Hepburn, Jennifer Wilson-Jones, Eugene Eubanks, Anthony Wells, Tony Simmons, James Sampson, Collis Givens, Steven Conwin, Marc Louis Front Row:  Rosemary Ring, Phillip Thomas, Nicole Emmons, Jan Marsh, Patrice Everett

Front Row: Rosemary Ring, Phillip Thomas, Latisha Edwards, Nicole Emmons, Jan Marsh, Patrice Everett

Broward College JDO Class

Back Row (Left to right):  Marcel Pope, Levi Branch, Sage Pino, Curtis Murray, Donavan Hepburn, Jennifer Wilson-Jones, Eugene Eubanks, Anthony Wells, Tony Simmons, James Sampson, Collis Givens, Steven Conwin, Marc Louis Front Row:  Rosemary Ring, Phillip Thomas, Nicole Emmons, Jan Marsh, Patrice Everett

Front Row: Rosemary Ring, Phillip Thomas, Latisha Edwards, Nicole Emmons, Jan Marsh, Patrice Everett

Broward College JDO Class

Top Row: Paul Holliday, Markos Fleury, Fenel Etienne, Collin Ricketts, Doscane Dadaille, Devin Mitchell

Middle Row: James Bentley, Tamisha McClain, Valencia Scatliffe, Henry Irabor, Franckline Francois, Crystal Temple, Tracie Harvey, Learning Consultant Denise Cannon

Front Row (Sitting): Evan Cohen, Tashod Hamilton, Clifford Jean Baptiste, Janice Scott, Crystal Anastos, Anthony Thomas, Latoya Weste

Margate JPO Class

Back Row (L-R): Tad Serran, Kadian Bernard, Ewart Reid, Lorraine Gramegna, Rose Bradford, Thomas Hucks, Erwin Tijerino, Anthony Gonzalez

Middle Row: Ashley Reid, Shenise Gardner, Carine Francois, Scheral McKinney, Veronica Emanuel

Front Row: Shanelle Quinn, Alesha Allen, Sonja Binns, Stephanie Carre

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Addresses School Resource Officers

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims recently addressed the 38th annual Florida Association of School Resource Officers (FASRO) in Orlando. The theme of the training conference was “Stronger Students, Stronger Families and Stronger Communities.” During her address, Assistant Secretary Sims thanked the officers for the valuable role they play as first responders. She also commended them for working to promote stronger students, families, and communities. She encouraged the offices to continue their efforts as mentors and tutors, and to continue their essential support for the circuit advisory boards and other DJJ initiatives.

FASRO offers the most advanced and comprehensive training for its members in the state of Florida. Members of the leading and largest organization – exceeding 500 members - of school resource officers in the nation receive many benefits. Okaloosa County Deputy Sheriff Demeika McClendon, a Niceville High School Resource Officer, was chosen as this year's FASRO School Resource Officer of the Year. 

State and Federal Director Eugene Morris recently spoke at the Leadership Luncheon for the LEAD Coalition of Bay County at the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club in Panama City. Eugene commended LEAD Coalition members for their dedicated efforts and urged them to continue working together to promote a safer community. Also speaking was William T. Halvosa, Retired Captain from the Gainesville Police Department.

The luncheon was a part of the Voices Against Violence series that seeks to promote safer streets in Bay County. The LEAD Coalition was formed in 2014 after the tragedy of seven deaths of young people in nine weeks. The community came together with law enforcement and other agencies to stop the violence. Eugene and Capt. Halvosa also attended a law enforcement and youth advocacy meeting at the Panama City Police Department and a Voices Against Violence meeting at the Bay County Government Center.

Residential Programs Host Special Guests to Help Inspire Our Youth 

Last week, 12 residents of Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy—both of which are non-secure programs for boys that are operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions—attended the Jacksonville Jaguars open practice at EverBank Field.  The youth were selected because they have shown continued progress in the program and exemplary behavior.  The boys observed offensive, defensive, and special team drills.  Some of the youth were amazed at how big some of the players were up close.  Go Jaguars!

Also happening at Hastings and Gulf, youth in the Home Builders Institute (HBI) vocational program are working on repainting the dorms.  HBI Instructor Oliver Rodriguez has done a great job teaching the students how to paint and in guiding them through this big project. The boys have repainted all the rooms, desks, and common areas of one dorm and will be starting another dorm soon.

Recently, Bartow Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, had their first high school senior graduate.  Facility Administrator Arthur Carter and Youth Care Worker Ella Foster escorted Youth B. to George Jenkins High School to take his test for high school completion. 

Last week, the program hosted a graduation ceremony to honor the youth with his mother and two sisters in attendance.  Administrative staff from the Polk County School Board also participated in the ceremony.

Hillsborough Girls Academy, a secure program for girls, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, held a carnival-themed family day for the residents and their families, which was a big hit. The staff created a carnival atmosphere for the day and everyone participated in games of toss, apple bobbing, and pie eating contests that involved three pies and no hands. 

All games included prizes that ranged from carnival-themed candies and snacks, to blankets and carnival cups for all.  The families also enjoyed a photo booth the program had set up, and the youth were able to have some fun with their families taking pictures in front of a carnival backdrop with several fun props. 

The Youth Advisory Board of the Central Pasco Girls Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, hosted a car wash and bake sale to raise additional funds for an upcoming outing to the Grand Prix!  The youth baked a variety of cookies, cinnamon buns, and brownies.  They also had lemonade, fruit punch, and bottled water. They successfully raised half of their $200 goal and anticipate an additional $50 donation from the Steadfast Mentors! 

They girls even provided car-side service to staff member CC Perez, who was in an accident that paralyzed her from the waist down.  CC said, “Nothing would stop me from supporting the girls in any way that I can since I physically can’t at this time.”   

The residents of Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for boys, ages 10 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, participated in a community service project with the Roth Farm AquaSol production facility located in Dade City.  This is a harvest production through the Aquaponics systems that grows organic vegetables and fresh organically raised tilapia and catfish. The facility grows its products and sells it to various restaurants throughout Florida.  The current harvest season ended and the youth from Columbus JRF helped uproot the remaining greens in the garden, weeds included, to assist the AquaSol facility in getting ready for the fall harvest season.

The Youth Environmental Services, a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., recently hosted several visitors to the program. Football player and 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft pick Stevie Tu’ikolovatu and his wife, Kalo, recently toured the program and have committed to mentoring the young men. Since their initial tour, they’ve visited our camp to spend time with the boys and are looking forward to preparing for a big luau that Kalo is planning in the local Sun City Center area. She will be teaching the program’s residents a traditional Polynesian dance, which they will perform at the Luau, as well as creating the traditional Polynesian luau attire.  The kids and staff are very excited about what the future holds with these two young, positive community leaders!

Also visiting the program was Mr. O.B. and Mr. Rusty from the Hartwell Foundation, who had the opportunity to tour the program and have lunch with a few of the young men at the program. The men discussed with the youth their experiences at the 2017 Summer Challenge Event.  Mr. Rusty was very impressed with the growth and character building that takes place through these events and is looking forward to supporting AMIkids over the years to come.

Through a partnership that was established by the Home Office Partnership Team, Canteen Vending Services took a tour of the YES program and in turn asked if our young men could visit their local manufacturing facility in Tampa.  The boys enjoyed their time at the facility, where they had lunch with the Canteen staff, and saw first-hand what goes into running a successful food manufacturing organization. 

Canteen has since offered to donate some much-needed kitchen equipment to our facility, and we’re very thankful for their support of our kids.

The YES program is in the process of establishing a partnership with the Derrick Brooks Foundation, which is located in Tampa.  The program’s administration team recently met at the foundation offices and will be scheduling a tour of the program in August. 

Derrick Brooks is the current president of the Tampa Bay Storm and he has already begun supporting the program’s efforts by providing game tickets as behavior incentives, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday!

Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA), a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, in partnership with the NFL Chicago Bears and Prison Fellowship hosted its first NFL Dream Camp.  Thanks to the efforts of former Palm Beach County residents and current Chicago Bears players Cre’Von LeBlanc and Deonte Thompson, this event was made possible.  The residents took part in a fully simulated pro-style NFL camp as many high school, collegiate, and NFL athletes get to do.  During the camp, the PBYA boys were taught a variety of football related skills but it was the personal individual mentoring and life lessons the two players shared with our boys that was the highlight of the camp.  Both players, having grown up in the Belle Glade community of Palm Beach County, had to overcome a multitude of adversity to get to where they are today, and both share similar success stories that our young men could relate to. Both Cre’Von LeBlanc and Deonte Thompson, ensured that the young men had a one of a kind experience.  From all the equipment needed to facilitate the camp, to individual jerseys for each kid, to having a DJ, other volunteers and NFL players on hand, and refreshments, they provided the kids with an experience they will never forget. 

Also on hand and responsible for making this event such a success was former Baltimore Ravens Linebacker and Super Bowl Champion Tyrus McCloud, who currently works with Prison Fellowship.  The Palm Beach Youth Academy has been fortunate to formulate ties to such wonderful individuals and organizations as all three current and former NFL Players named are constant fixtures at the program and work with the boys regularly.  These relationships have also led to a variety of other collaborative efforts between the respective organizations.  Sequel Youth and Family Services worked in collaboration with agencies such as the Chicago Bears, the National Football League, the City of Belle Glade, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Angel Tree Football, and the Prison Fellowship at the Cre’Von LeBlanc Football Camp, and the Deonte Thompson and Cre’Von LeBlanc “Stop the Violence, Clean the City” event in the City of Belle Glade. 

Pictured from left to right: Abiade Granger who is a local football coach and trainer, Jhavon Williams of the New Orleans Saints, Facility AFA Demetreus Jones, Cre'Von LeBlanc and Deonte Thompson both with the Chicago Bears. 

PBYA also recently hosted Santonio “Blaze” Carter as part of the victim speakers programming.  Blaze Carter is the father of the late King Carter, a 6-year-old boy who was tragically killed in his front yard last year by a stray bullet—an event that garnered national media attention and brought to the forefront the issue of inner-city gun violence in Miami-Dade County.  While on site, Mr. Carter not only shared with the residents the tragic story of losing his only son but also shared his personal life story, the adversities he has overcome, and how he transformed these negatives into something positive.

Aside from being a popular rap musician and music composer, Mr. Carter is a well-respected community leader and activist.  The PBYA students were moved by his stories and he was successful in making a deep connection with the young men. His community efforts and passion for working with young children recently inspired an anonymous $1 Million donation to the Miami Dade School District in memory of his late son, which will provide additional academic and vocational opportunities to children in Miami-Dade County.   Last week, the NW 12th Avenue and 104th Street of Miami-Dade County was renamed in memory of King Carter.

Mr. Carter has also recently founded the BOOM Program, which stands for Branding Our Own Movement, Benefiting Off Our Mission, and Being Our Own Man.  The BOOM program is a mentoring program that targets the at-risk youth population.  PBYA is hoping to be one of the pilot sites for this new program.

Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, hosted its second family day event for 2017, celebrating the super dads of MYA.  The MYA Titans created and awarded pendants and lifesaver candy souvenirs to the dads, symbolizing their roles as heroes in their lives.

The celebration included games and activities that promoted team work and male bonding.  They even enjoyed a green-screen photo booth that was provided by the education department.  Each youth and his family selected from several backgrounds for their photo shoots. In addition to the fun and games, there was a cookout style menu of hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, tuna salad, and cookies.