Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

August 21, 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

Hispanic Heritage Month Art and Essay Contests 

Last week, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott announced the 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month contests for students and educators. Florida K-12 students are invited to participate in the essay and art contests. Parents, students, teachers and principals are also invited to nominate full-time, outstanding educators for the Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence in Education Award.

Awards will be given in four different age groups with the top prize of a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship going to three winners in grades 4-12. The theme for this year’s essay and art contests is “A Recognition of the Role of Hispanic-Americans in Shaping Florida Today.” Students are asked to share how Hispanic Floridians have impacted our state’s history and culture. More information about the contests and Florida’s Hispanic Heritage Month is available at www.FloridaHispanicHeritage.com.  

Register Today for the National Symposium on Juvenile Services 

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice along with the National Partnership for Juvenile Services will host the 23rd National Symposium on Juvenile Services on October 8-12 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. This unique forum brings together leadership and direct care professionals from juvenile services and professionals from other human service programs for training and the opportunity to network and share innovative service approaches being implemented within the juvenile justice system throughout the country.

DJJ Assistant Secretary for Probation Paul Hatcher, Director of Education Julie Orange, Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts, and Government Analyst II Maureen Honan from Detention Services will be leading individual breakout sessions along with juvenile justice experts nationwide.

Early-bird registration for Florida residents is now underway and will continue through September 1 and the deadline to register for this event is September 6. You may register for the conference by clicking here.

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Congratulations to Lee Hartsfield (below left) and Gene Sanchez (below right) for their recognition as Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for July 2017.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process.  Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.


Congratulations to Florence Doggett, Central Regional Leader from the Bureau of Information Technology for receiving her Certified Supervisory Manager’s Certificate!  This is certificate is awarded upon the successful completion of the first half of the Florida Certified Public Manager (CPM) program.

The CPM program is a nationally-recognized program for training and developing public managers and supervisors.

Detention Facility Honors Recent Graduates

Congratulations to two students from the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center who successfully completed their GED requirements and will receive their high school diplomas. Pasco’s Education Director, Dr. Kevin Coggins presented these young men with their diplomas during an ice cream social at the facility. With the graduation of these two youths, Pasco now has a total of 19 youth who have earned their GEDs in the last year. These boys will take part in a cap and gown ceremony with the Pasco County School System on August 31. 


Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Holds Annual Meeting

The Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) recently held their annual statewide meeting in Orlando.  During the meeting, the MQI team came together to share information, participate in program area discussions, implement new tools and initiatives, discuss best practices, enhance the Certified Peer Reviewer curriculum, and increase the consistency of our monitoring efforts across the state. 

The MQI Team also took time to recognize team members for their outstanding service and for going above and beyond their normal job duties to assist their team members. Staff participated in team building activities and inter-rater reliability exercises to increase efficiency and consistency when rating performance indicators, writing PMM summaries, and drafting annual compliance reports.

Probation Youth Participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Project and Basketball Tournament

Circuit 6 probation teamed up with members of the DJJ Office of Prevention to host a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) discussion in Pasco County. The event was held in collaboration with the PACE Center for Girls of Pasco County, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the New Port Richey Police Department. This discussion was unique as it featured an all-girls panel and all female police officers.  The dialogue pertained to the girl’s views on profiling, the difference between being direct and disrespectful, the difference between male and female police officers, social media and vicarious trauma. 

The discussion was moderated by Kelley Scott from Youth and Family Alternatives. I would like to thank the following employees who organized and attended the event: Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee, Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould, Juvenile Probation Officers Salita Algere-Mason, Jamie Rea, Christina Banks, Keyra Inmon, John Daniel and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell.

DJJ youth from the Eckerd Project Bridge in Circuit 20 participated in Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships’ “ArtReach” project. The creative art program is used to instill a sense of awareness about human trafficking in our communities. The artwork that the Circuit 20 youth created will be reproduced to make a quilt that will be donated to Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships for display. These youth really worked hard on their paintings and have learned new ways to express their views.

DJJ youth from the Eckerd Project Bridge program partnered with JLM Records to host its first ever 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the Central Region. Teams traveled from six circuits across Central Florida to celebrate teamwork, competition and collaboration. The event opened with former NBA player Chris Richard as guest speaker, where he provided the youth with words of encouragement and inspiration. Then the game was on with Circuit 6 leading the way and claiming the trophies! Project Bridge looks forward to continuing this tournament and holding similar events across the region!

Circuit 10 Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery attended National Night Out festivities at the Simpson Park Community Center in Lakeland. National Night Out (NNO) is an annual community event designed to strengthen police and community relationships and generate support for anti-crime programs. 

During the festivities, Natalie provided information regarding DJJ’s Roadmap to System Excellence to youth and their families in attendance, and distributed literature that taught parents how to have real conversations with their children.  The Lakeland Police Department reported 87 National Night Out events across the city with approximately 6500 community members in attendance. 

I’m pleased to share the following letter that was sent from a parent to Circuit 1 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Dan Bears regarding the termination of their child from probation. It reads:

Good Morning,

I want to take this opportunity to thank (you) for all the support and guidance you provided.  It is so hard to understand the juvenile justice system and you were there for us every step of the way.  I truly enjoyed our conversations and how helpful you all were. Thank you again for all you do.

Prevention Staff Participate in National Night Out

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson took part in National Night Out activities with the Southwood Neighborhood Association in Orlando. The theme for this year’s event was entitled, “Making Time for Ridding Crime,” and the event welcomed over 100 community members. The Southwood Neighborhood Association had activities for the youth in attendance such as drawing contest, scavenger hunts, and bingo. A live band also performed.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit coordinated the 34th annual celebration. Activities surrounding the event were designed to bring communities together and raise awareness on crime prevention. The Sheriff’s Office brought their hound dog and one of their horses for the community to meet and to learn more about the vital role that each plays in their office.

Pictured above: Dionne Anderson and Orange County Deputy celebrating with the community.

Volunteers from Rasmussen College’s West Pasco Campus donated their time to the PACE Center for Girls of Pasco County during the College’s 2017 Community Service Day last month. The volunteers gathered at the PACE Center to paint, organize their clothes closet, and help in the library.

Prior to the day of service, PACE girls had the opportunity to visit the Rasmussen campus. They spent the afternoon learning about the higher education process, where staff encouraged the girls to pursue their goals. Gail Armstrong, executive director of PACE Pasco, appreciated the help of Rasmussen staff and the opportunity given to the girls.  

Pictured above: Eevee, a student at PACE Pasco, demonstrates her science project for some of the Rasmussen College volunteers.  

Residential Youth Visit Local Colleges and Volunteered at a Local Food Bank

The residents at RAM-C, a non‐secure program for boys ages nine to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. along with Mr. Jones and Nicole Miller had a chance to visit Florida State University for Fan Day and lunch at Golden Corral! Several residents from RAM‐C are interested in becoming professional athletes and love Florida State. This was an opportunity for the youth to have a meet and greet with the team and get autographs from coaches and players and see a glimpse of a college campus!

Mr. Jones, one the hardest working and most loved staff at the program, was also celebrating his birthday and the boys asked to set up a special surprise for him. While Mr. Jones was eating, the boys and Ms. Miller met up with another staff member to surprise Mr. Jones with his favorite ice cream cake and birthday serenade. The boys were really excited to be able to surprise Mr. Jones and show him how much they appreciate all he does!

Four youth and Recreational Therapist Tavarius Roberson from Orange Youth Academy and Orlando Intensive Youth Academy, both are non‐secure programs that are operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, recently attended Bethune‐Cookman University a Historical Black College University (HBCU), in Daytona Beach, Florida for a tour of the campus. During the tour of the campus the youth also learned about the history of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and her passion for education. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was the founder of Bethune‐Cookman University and her vision and legacy continues to live on at the University.

Residents from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a nonsecure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, got out in the community and volunteered with local food bank distributor Feeding Northeast Florida. During their time volunteering the youth sorted and packaged 4,587 pounds of food, which will result in 3,823 meals for families in the northeast Florida region.

From food collection to food consumption, residents from Jacksonville Youth Academy got a treat when celebrity Chef Nina Gross stopped by for a visit. During her time at JYA she gave youth a presentation on healthy eating, safe cooking and the importance of following your dreams. While sharing her personal journey and her experiences catering for celebrities, she entertained the youth with a cooking demonstration. Chef Nina prepared orange chicken and brown rice for the youth and staff to sample. Chef Nina has partnered with JYA to train the residents in the basics of cooking. Everyone is looking forward to all that she has to offer! 

Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, held a ceremony for two youth that passed their GED test. Both youth worked very hard to achieve this goal. The staff at Duval Academy, as well as the teachers are very proud of them. They continue to inspire other youth in the facility to set goals and achieve them.

Pictured left, Principal Robinson and right, Duval Academy Facility Administrator Al Chester

In addition, Duval Academy youth participated in an outing at the park. The youth played basketball, walked a nature trail, played on the swings and played in a splash pad. They had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed cooling off in the cold water at the splash pad. They also enjoyed walking the trail and seeing different animals and plants. It was a great outing!

The following day at Duval Academy, residents enjoyed a fun day. The youth played games that were easy but required teamwork and trust. Everyone had a great time and the youth showed great teamwork. Some of the games were hard to grasp at first because they had to really trust each other. Once they built up trust, everyone had a great time. The youth are looking forward to the next fun day at the program. 

Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, a secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, held the monthly awards ceremony for the youth. Youth can receive awards from all areas of the program, including education, case management, medical, and mental health. The highest award is the Spartan Award, which is presented to the youth who has the most consistent behavior in all areas of the program. Youth J.R. has been the reigning champion of the Spartan Award for the last three months. This youth also has received “Doing All Positive” for the last three months, meaning he has not received a negative behavior report in 90 days.

HBI (Home Builders Institute) students at Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and the Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions went through the CPR/First Aid certification course. This course allowed the youth to gain insight and knowledge on how to recognize and react to emergency situations. Lead instructor Oliver Rodriguez commented, “It is important for the youth to have more tools in their toolboxes and that many jobs now require this certification when they enter the workforce.” Congratulations to the students on their accomplishment.

The HBI program at Hastings and Gulf Academy have also partnered with the Putnam County Habitat for Humanity to begin working on a new home in the community. Under the watchful eye of Lead Instructor Oliver Rodriguez, the youth worked on painting the interior of the house. They are very excited to be able to give back to the community.

Finally, eleven youth from Hastings and Gulf Academy were taken to the Epic Movie Theaters of St. Augustine to see the War for the Planet of the Apes. They were chosen to participate in this outing because they have demonstrated continued positive behavior and progress in the program. Congratulations young men!