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Secretary's Message

September 18, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

On behalf of DJJ, I’d like to extend our thoughts and prayers to those across Florida that are affected by Hurricane Irma, and let’s not forget those in Texas still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Floridians who have experienced the wrath of hurricanes before know we will come through the devastating impact on our homes, businesses, and communities ever stronger.

I am so proud to see neighbors, friends, volunteers and strangers reaching out to help those in desperate need, working together to get everyone back on their feet and put back together the many lives impacted by Harvey and Irma.

I also want to take a moment to thank DJJ staff and service providers across the state, especially those responsible for evacuating the hundreds of kids under their care. The response to the impending hurricane was no small feat and the staff involved executed their responsibilities quickly, calmly and with professional expertise. I wish I could thank each and every one of you personally! 

While we have a long road of recovery ahead, I am certain the resilience and resolve demonstrated in the images and videos we have seen of friends helping friends and neighbors helping neighbors will bring us through once again.   


Christina K. Daly

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officers (JDO) Tychone Hagans and Candis Williams from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) who were honored as the Detention Services Central Region Employees of the Month. JDO Hagans received the award for the month of April, while JDO Williams received the award for the month of May. Both officers received a certificate and gift card. Both honorees are pictured with Major Paul Finn and fellow Volusia RJDC staff. 

I am excited to announce the addition of Rachel Moscoso as DJJ’s legislative affairs director. 

Rachel joins the DJJ team with an extensive background in legislative planning and a passion for children. She most recently served as the deputy legislative affairs director at the Florida Department of Children and Families and previously worked as a child protective investigator. Rachel has also worked as a legislative analyst for the Florida House of Representatives. She is a graduate of the Florida State University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and her Master of Public Administration.

We are fortunate to have Rachel as a part of the agency, and I hope you will join me in welcoming her to our team!

Please join me in congratulating Sandi Brannan on her new position as Circuit 8 assistant chief probation officer, covering Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Union and Levy counties.  Ms. Brannan has been with DJJ for the last twenty years and most recently served as the commitment manager in Circuit 8 and Circuit 4.  Prior to that she was a senior juvenile probation officer for sixteen years and a juvenile probation officer for two years.

Ms. Brannan brings a long-standing relationship with Circuit 8 stakeholders and judiciary partners. With adding her wealth of knowledge and experience to this position, we look forward to continued success for Circuit 8.

Congratulations to Circuit 15 Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty who was recognized as the Circuit’s Employee of the Month for the month of July by Chief Probation Officer Gregory Starling. Ms. Shirlon was nominated for her outstanding work in securing the necessary funding and organizing a Summer Olympics program for over 100 youth on probation within the Circuit.

In addition, Ms. Shirlon submitted a proposal for grant funding that provided youth with an opportunity to attend four college tours. This was a rewarding experience for the youth that attended. Their exposure included career pathways, necessary coursework, application processes, available funding and locations available in the state of Florida. Congratulations to Ms. Shirlon on this well-deserved honor. 

Tips from IT: Ways to Avoid Malicious Emails During Disaster Recovery

While seeing the devastation associated with hurricanes and natural disasters, we may feel the urge to help in any way we can.  While compassion is important, natural disasters are also times to remain aware of malicious emails that seek to take advantage of everyone’s good nature.  Please be careful of any emails with subject lines, attachments or hyperlinks related to Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma.

From the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team:  

US-CERT encourages users and administrators to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns:

·         Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.

Dads Take Your Child to School Day

Calling all Dads and male role models to help celebrate “Dads Take Your Child to School Day” on September 27!

Children have the potential to perform better in the classroom and in life when they have involved fathers and father figures. Contact your local school offices to find out how you can get involved!  

Prevention Staff Attend Back to School Bash in Hamilton County

Disproportionate Minority Contact Liaison Travis Ligon and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III attended a Back-to-School Bash sponsored by the Hamilton County Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coalition at Hamilton High School. The event was organized to ensure that Hamilton County children had ample school supplies to begin the new school year. Parents from both Hamilton High and Hamilton Elementary provided book bags and school supplies for the youth.

In addition, youth received free physical examinations for athletes, immunization shots, and free haircuts for young men. Parents also received information on social service resources available in Hamilton County.

The event was sponsored by the Hamilton County Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coalition, Hamilton County SWAT, Potash Corp, M.O.M./W.O.M. (Moms on a Mission/Women on a Mission), First Federal Bank, Elected Officials of Hamilton County, VFW, Cont’d Farms, Gator Chevrolet, Saul and Connie Speights, and the CMJ Foundation. Approximately 800 people took part. Organizers said they distributed 650 book bags with supplies. Although this was the first year for this event, organizers said it would not be the last.

Pictured above (from left to right): Travis Ligon Prevention Staff; Shauna Adams-Farries, Circuit 3 CAB Chair and Tobacco Prevention Specialist, and Onazina Washington, Delinquency Prevention Specialist.

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville had a fun-filled busy summer. In addition to their regular scheduled classes, girls participated in a book club where they read three books: “Thirteen Reasons Why,” “No Fear Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet,” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” They discussed the books weekly. The PACE girls also created colorful and decorative masks that they used as part of their costumes to put on an original stage play. In addition, they worked in a garden planting an avocado tree, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers and various herbs that they will use to cook some savory dishes in the fall after their harvest.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Delinquency Prevention Specialists Pat McGhee and Sandra Ferguson and Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Liaison Tina Levene attended the Circuit 20 Advisory Board (CAB) meeting at the CareerSource Center in Fort Myers. Ms. Lawson-Grady delivered a presentation on Bridging the G.A.A.P. conversations as well as prevention initiatives and community engagement.

There was also a presentation from Abdul Muhammed of Quality Life Center, a new provider through the DJJ Office of Prevention. He discussed facts related to Lee County, how the county ranks in terms of families in poverty, education, high school graduation rates, teen birth rates and uninsured children.

Chief Probation Officer (CPO) Peg LaMarca and Assistant Chief Probation Officer (ACPO) Lut Clarcq, discussed new legislation that will take effect October 1. HB 7059 makes numerous changes that increase the use of secure detention for juveniles. CPO LaMarca and ACPO Clarcq also provided updates relating to Probation Service’s initiatives. Joseph L. Smith, Reentry Community Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Justice Middle District of Florida, delivered an update on justice initiatives.

Pictured above (from left to right): Joseph L. Smith Reentry/Community Outreach Coordinator, U.S. Department of Justice; Verla Lawson-Grady, Statewide Community Engagement Coordinator; Sandra Ferguson, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Circuits 12 and 20; Tina Levene, Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator; Dr. Sandra Pavelka, Circuit 20 Advisory Board Chairperson; Pat McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Circuits 6, 10 and 13; Peg LaMarca, Chief Probation Officer, Circuit 20; and Lut Clarcq, Assistant Chief of Probation Circuit 20.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George and Program Specialist Trevor Gilmore attended the 2017 Child Protection Summit hosted by the Department of Children and Families in Orlando. This year marked the Summit’s 20th Anniversary, which was originally known as the Dependency Court Improvement Summit. The annual training conference has continued to emphasize the importance of bringing together child welfare professionals and related partners to share best practices while enhancing collaborations across professions.

The Summit offered an extraordinary program of current and relevant training topics to further advance the knowledge base of child welfare staff in many critical areas of importance. A variety of workshops were offered and the importance of collaborating across agencies was greatly stressed. There were also incredible speakers with extraordinary stories of resilience and triumphant victories.

Pictured above: Mary Kay McAnally (left), with the Guardian ad Litem Program, and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George.

Detention Facility Welcomes Egyptian Delegation

Last week, the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) welcomed an international delegation from Egypt as a part of a tour that was centered on the rule of law and judicial reform. The Egyptian delegation was invited to the US by the Department of State through the International Visitor Leadership Program. During their stay, they explored U.S. federal, state, and local branches of the judiciary, as well as their respective mandates and regulations; reviewed democratic practices such as due process, trial by jury, right to representation and a fair trial; discussed judicial independence and the ways by which judges are chosen; and analyzed the use of technology in the courts.

During their visit at the Duval RJDC, they met with officers and were led on a tour by Superintendent Mark Refour who also discussed the restorative justice programs which are being used in juvenile detention facilities across the state. The visit was featured in an article from the Jacksonville Daily Record.  

Each week, youth on good behavior at the St. Lucie RJDC can have a party and pick the theme of said party as a part of the new behavior management system at the facility. This week, the youth chose an ice cream social complete with the toppings of their choice. Games and music were also made available to them throughout the party. 

Over the last few months, I have brought you all stories regarding Farming the Future, an interactive STEM learning experience at the Leon RJDC which is focused on aquaponics-based production and 21st century farming. Recently, Michelle Madison from Farming the Future engaged with youth on an interesting engineering project where they learned about mini bell siphons and how to make them. In addition, they planted seeds for harvest including broccoli, Swiss chard, peas and peppers which will be used for cooking in the Leon RJDC cafeteria. 


Justice, DJJ’s unofficial mascot, has returned to the Miami RJDC and was thrilled to be back home where the pet therapy program began.  He immediately ran out to the field and greeted the youth and staff, who were just as excited that he was back at the program.  Justice, when in Master Control, will greet visitors including JPOs, law enforcement, parents/guardians, evaluators and anyone else coming through the doors.  He is well loved and well known. 

Justice has been working for more than four years at numerous detention centers throughout the state, spreading unconditional love, tolerance and comfort.  He’s sad if he’s not with the children and staff.  He loves his work each day.

Justice, over the years, has brought joy and laughter to many children who were sad, anxious, angry or just having a bad day.  After about 15 minutes with the children, the youth are then able to turn those feelings into more positive thoughts and are then observed experiencing a much more pleasant, positive day.

Justice has been called upon to work with some of the most difficult children throughout the state.  He has traveled extensively.  His specialty is youth who have serious mental health issues and/or have a difficult time adjusting to detention.  He has been observed going up to a youth who was teary, sad or angry and within minutes, changed that sadness into laughter and the anger into calmness with just a big wet kiss or a loving  look into the youth’s eyes.  He has a great sense for seeking out the children needing the most attention and lots of unconditional love.

Justice is always on the move during the day. Both staff and youth enjoy his presence and the fact that he can relate so well with even the most problematic youth. Many staff have expressed that having Justice onsite makes the children calmer and they experience less incidents. During the day, you will constantly hear the youth asking to be with Justice. He has been instrumental in creating a more positive and calm environment no matter where he is working.

After his work is finished for the day, he returns home to rest and relax on the couch, on the deck, and then, his favorite place, his bed.   

The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed the ladies from the Junior League of Greater Orlando on August 31 for a tour and training on PREA. As a part of their MAGIC (Mentoring Adolescent Girls to Inspire Change) program, these Leaguers will mentor the young ladies at Orange with different workshops each month. The group will begin their work at the end of September and it will run through May of next year.

In addition, the Orange Detention Center welcomed two very special guests to speak with our youth. World Kickboxing Master Champion Mike Bell, who also holds an 8th degree Karate black belt and has been master instructor for over 35 years, talked with our youth about making the right choices in life. Also, current NBA star and former University of Florida standout Marreese Speights of the Orlando Magic spent an entire day at the facility speaking with our youth and touring the mods.  Since signing with the Magic back in July, Speights has made a commitment to spend time with the youth at Orange RJDC, and we couldn’t be happier for his support. 

The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted a training session for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office newest K-9 service dog. The sheriff’s office utilized one of the empty mods at Leon RJDC and strategically placed paraphernalia throughout the mod for the K-9 to find them. We were happy to assist in this important training exercise for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.  


After a recent admission to the Monroe RJDC, Juvenile Detention Officers (JDO) Monique Hannibal and Charnette Butler discovered that the youth was facing a dilemma. She was scheduled to start the new school year, but was fearful of being bullied because she didn’t have any clothes, hygiene products or school supplies to get her off on the right foot. The officers at Monroe RJDC pooled together and donated a $150-dollar gift card for the youth as well as a backpack, hygiene items and a used laptop. JDOs Hannibal and Butler presented the youth with these items at her home. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Officer Monique Hannibal, youth and Officer Charnette Butler present youth with $150 gift card, back pack, school supplies and hygiene items 

Residential Youth Participate in Pet Therapy and Family Fun Days

Challenge Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Eckerd Kids, facilitated a fun filled day for the residents. This day was coordinated by our community liaison, Mr. Dell Barnes. Mr. Barnes collaborated with our local business community to provide youth a day of fun filled activities – all while beating the heat! Each group cycled through various activities including an opportunity at the dunk tank to see if they could dunk staff members.

At Challenge, they strive to view and treat the residents as a whole and provide them opportunities to engage in alternative forms of learning and therapy. These activities provided the residents with the opportunity to use newly acquired skills, such as positive social interactions with authority figures, in a non-threatening and fun way. There was even an appearance by three Nature Coast Therapy Dog teams to assist with this task. Challenge youth responded positively to this day as they interacted with peers, staff, and therapy dogs in positive and meaningful ways!

Eight youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC participated in a track meet hosted by Jacksonville Youth Academy. The youth had a great time, even in the heat! The competition was exciting and they were awarded the third-place trophy. Many residents brought home medals for the events they participated in during the meet.

Pictured: Mr. Craig Dowdy (gray shirt) and Mr. Renardo Boyd (black shirt). 

Kissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 21, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, hosted the Back-to-School Family Day event. The program was excited for the opportunity to bridge the relationships between the residents and their families. Family day has been a huge success within the program and has grown immensely over the last year. This family day extravaganza was nothing short of spectacular in every aspect. There were several families that traveled from many areas throughout the state to take part in the event.

There were a variety of fun-filled activities paired with some delicious edibles available to all parties in attendance. These activities included a gas card & restaurant card raffle, cloudy snow cone truck, and a dunk tank that caused a huge splash!

Earlier this month, Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13-18, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, accepted the challenge of becoming foster parents. Meet Dingo and Lion, the new facility puppies. The puppies are part of the Pixel Foundation, an animal rescue shelter based out of both Florida and Maine. The goal is to foster two puppies at a time to get them ready for their permanent families. The youth will gain a sense of responsibility and purpose as they are to ensure the puppies receive baths, are fed and learn basic commands. BYTC aspires to become a permanent family for puppies in transition once they complete the probationary phase.

Earlier this week, all 28 youth and multiple staff and educators of Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, celebrated National Dog Day giving their beloved Caroline (American bulldog) reason to celebrate her day. With the collaboration of Miami Dade County Public Schools – Office of Educational Alternative Outreach, MYA researched various canine breeds, printed a photograph of each selected breed, and then the youth (or as we call them, Titans) constructed a handheld poster with the chosen dog. Miami Youth Academy Clinical Services staff Brittney Ashley, Transition Services Manager, who accepted the challenge of surprising Caroline with an unforgettable tribute directed the Titans on constructing displays to line the parade route.

“If you have experienced the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade; forget about it. Even if you have experienced the Tournament of Roses Parade; this is going to be Epic,” Johnny Richardson, Facility Administrator proclaimed to the MYA youth and staff minutes before show time. The star of the day, Caroline was delightfully surprised by all the attention bestowed upon her and how many of her fellow canines were on display to give significance to the day.

National Dog Day is observed annually on August 26th. National Dog Day, an “unofficial” national holiday, was founded in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert and author Colleen Paige. The day encourages dog ownership of all breeds, mixed and pure, and embraces the opportunity for all dogs to live a happy, safe and “abuse-free life”. Dogs give us companionship, they keep us safe and they aid those in need. It is a goal, for many on National Dog Day, to find homes for all dogs in need of a loving family.

The goal of the National Dog Day Foundation is to rescue 10,000 dogs each year. Caroline, like her predecessor pup Rocco, was rescued from the Miami Dade County Animal Shelter in September 2015.

Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA), a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC had their first off-grounds community service activity. As part of their restorative justice initiative, the program encouraged youth to decorate 40 picture frames to gift to Royal Manor - a nursing home that provides assisted living, rehabilitation, and care to the elderly. Two youth in transition for release were selected to be their first PBYA youth ambassadors. The ambassadors packed the decorated picture frames into gift bags with combs and word search puzzle books. 

The young men arrived at the facility dressed in plaid shirts, khaki pants, and dress shoes while accompanied by several Sequel staff members. The lively group was welcomed by the activities director, Michael Kiedel, as he led them throughout the nursing home and introduced them to residents. The young men handed gifts to each resident they came across and smiled with glee as they were told “thank you” in return. The residents enjoyed the gifts and one pretty lady did not hesitate to try out her new comb! The youth met some amazing senior citizens from a Korean War veteran who shook their hands with pride to a stylish young lady who would turned 100 this year!

The boys had a wonderful time during their service activity and when asked how they felt about their experience they said, “it felt good!”. PBYA is looking forward to future volunteer projects with their new friends at Royal Manor and the community-at-large.

DJJ Education Students View Solar Eclipse 

Students from the RAM-C Educational Program in Greenville took part in a science project which allowed them to view the recent solar eclipse in a safe and fun way. The youth donated their favorite shoe boxes and with the help of Clinical Therapist Ashely Lewis and School Administrator Nicole Miller, constructed projectors using aluminum foil, shoe boxes and duct tape. The young men were able to view the reflection of the sun inside the boxes and thought it was a really cool experience. 

Probationary Youth Give Back to Families in Need

DJJ youth from the Eckerd Project Bridge Program in Orlando participated in a restorative justice project to help local families in need. The youth prepared care packages which consisted of professional clothing, soap, razors, lotion and shampoo and then donated them to Community-Based Care of Central Florida. Director Aleisha Grant accepted the care packages and was overwhelmed by the support from Eckerd Kids. 

During a recent community service project with Habitat for Humanity, staff from AMIkids Orlando met with University of Central Florida Student Keyera Lyn. Keyera, who is a Ms. Black and Gold for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at UCF, was volunteering with Habitat and saw the work our youth were doing and wanted to become more involved. True to her word, she came through and recently led out youth from AMI Orlando on a tour of the UCF campus. All the youth enjoyed the tour and learning about college life and the educational options open to them. 

Last week, professional Chef Guillermo Dovalina III made a visit to the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) to cook for our youth and tell them about his life story. Chef Dovalina is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate and has worked with some of the greatest chefs in the world including Wolfgang Puck, but his life didn’t start out that way. Chef Dovalina grew up in a rough neighborhood in California, with drug-addicted parents and went astray at an early age. After hitting rock bottom, he learned to cook from his uncle, a great chef in his own right. That is when he began to turn his life around.

After leaving California for Florida, Chef Guillermo and his wife Danielle opened their own food truck in Panama City. They customized the truck themselves and serve old fashioned pizzas from a wood fired domed oven. Recently, he read an article in the Panama City News Herald about a young lady from PCMI who was raising money to feed the homeless youth in her local community. That story inspired Chef Guillermo as he didn’t know there were so many kids in his own community that were homeless.

He immediately called PCMI and asked to come cook for the youth at the facility. Chef Guillermo even allowed one of the youth to put on an apron and train as a pizza chef. The next day he came back to talk and encouraged each one of them to be all they can be in life with hard work and goal setting. The giving doesn’t stop there, as PCMI is looking to build a kitchen and asked Chef Guillermo to design it. Chef is so happy to give back to these kids and said, “I want to plant little seeds in these kids that will grow into something great. I wish I could come here every day!”

Circuit 13 Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney recently participated in a back-to-school fair at the Gary Adult High School in Tampa. Sandra set up a DJJ community resource table to provide information about our agency. Staff members from Gary Adult High School gave tours to all the community members and stakeholders in attendance. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Sandra Pinkney (C13 Reform Specialist) and Sharon McKenna (C13 Teacher at Hillsborough Detention Center). 

Paxen Community Connections Brevard recently provided a helping hand to the ASPCA in caring for the animals that were eligible for adoption. The youth are very interested in being responsible caretakers for pets and often do not know the responsibilities that come along with owning an animal. Paxen staff members taught several youth the proper care of animals, laws regarding animal ownership, and even visited a pet store to see how much the animals cost and the supplies needed for pets. While at the ASPCA, youth made sure that the pets had clean water in the bowls, that the cages were hosed down, and took care of some of the donated blankets and towels that were provided to the shelter. 

Youth from Paxen Community Connections in Polk County recently participated in a tour of Keiser College. They had the opportunity to meet with a career coach to see what the school had to offer academically and the other resources offered to them. The career coach gave these youth a booster class on how to tie a tie, stating that while they show students how to find the major that is right for them, they also teach them tangible life skills including appropriate attire for a job and how to sign up for direct deposit. 

DJJ Probation staff in Circuit 7 and Deputy Education Director Cindy Jones held a back to school supply and backpack drive for those students in need of school supplies. The backpacks and school supplies were donated by probation units 302 and 303 as well as the administration staff for the Circuit 7 office. Seven backpacks filled with supplies were distributed to our probationary youth with an additional 30 backpacks delivered to the Osceola Elementary School in Ormond Beach. 

Pictured above (from left to right): JPO Teresa Starrs, Osceola Elementary School Principal Kevin Flassig, DJJ Deputy Education Director Cindy Jones, Osceola Elementary School Guidance Counselor Lisa Florio, and JPOS Jillian Lewandowski.

DJJ youth from the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) led by staff member Jaime Dahlin teamed with local radio personality Dr. Shane Collins from 92.5 WPAP to gather food and cleaning supplies for the people suffering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. PCMI thanks Dr. Shane for giving their students the opportunity to help others in need. 

Circuit 18 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Kaleigh DiPerna from the Sanford Probation Office hosted a baby shower for Interstate Compact Juvenile and expectant mother. The youth has lived in foster care for most of her life and has no family here in Florida. JPO DiPerna was diligent in the planning of this baby shower and talked many of the DJJ probation staff in Sanford to get involved and participate. The youth is currently working full time while attending Valencia College in Orlando and was appreciative and grateful that our staff went above and beyond to help her out. 

Director of Policy and Programming for Probation Jeannie Becker-Powell and GOC II from Residential Services Vanessa Wicker recently facilitated case study discussions in Circuits 11 and 20.  The case studies are a component of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP), where DJJ staff and community stakeholders come together to dissect closed cases. They examine 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. 

Frank Manning, Chief Probation Officer in Circuit 11 and Margaret LaMarca, Chief Probation Officer in Circuit 20 brought together representatives from the Department of Children and Families, public defenders, state attorneys, school personnel, private service providers, and probation staff who worked with the youth involved in the case studies