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

Secretary's Message

September 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

Register Today for the 8th Annual Florida Faith Symposium

The eighth annual Florida Faith Symposium will be held November 7-8, 2017, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. The symposium is one of the state’s largest gatherings of faith leaders and government agencies joining forces to serve and strengthen Florida’s children and families.  

The conference will feature dynamic speakers, more than 35 workshops, and a variety of exhibits focused on enhancing faith- and community-based programs. Attendees can also look forward to inspiring musical performances by Dove and Grammy award-winning jazz musician Ben Tankard and the Camp Anderson Band, a youth-led group that is living proof of the positive impact of faith- and community-based programs.  

This event is hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council, as well as other statewide partners. 

Early bird registration is still available at $125, for a limited time. To register and for more information, visit http://faithsymposium.com/.

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Please join us in welcoming new team members to the Office of Staff Development & Training.

  • Sonia Taylor – Deputy Director: Sonia joins us from the Department of Management Services where she served as professional development training coordinator.  She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in leadership, management, and training. Her formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a master’s degree in Public Administration, a master’s degree in Biblical Studies, and a doctorate in Christian Leadership and Counseling. She also completed the Certified Public Manager’s program (CPM), and will graduate from the Tallahassee Leadership Academy in December 2017.
  • Harold Stephenson – Instructional Systems Designer (ISD): Before joining the SD&T team, Harold was the education program coordinator at Gadsden Re-entry Center. Prior to that, he worked as an instructional designer at Florida State University. Harold’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master’s of Science in Instructional Design, and a Master’s of Science in Information Technology.
  • Sam Brewer – Instructional Systems Designer (ISD):  Sam comes to us from the Florida State University Office of Distance Learning where he provided learning program/course development and support for FSU’s facility, staff and administrators. Sam earned an Associate of Arts degree from TCC, a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and a BS in Psychology, and will complete a Master’s of Science in Instructional Systems and Learning Technology in 2018.
  • Joe Gerstenfeld – Training and Research Manager. Before joining SD&T, Joe was the operations and consultant manager for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). He was responsible for developing goals and objectives for system improvement within FDLE’s firearms purchase program. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science Education from Florida State University and his Master of Education in Instructional Technology from Jones International University.
  • James Rogers – Learning Specialist. James comes to us from the Department of Corrections where he was a correctional officer. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Florida State University. James’ work experience ranges from security and duty officer to juvenile case management. He was also a former juvenile probation officer for one of the department’s previous contracted providers.

Prevention’s PACE Center Partners Welcome Students Back to School

The PACE Center for Girls of Broward County welcomed their students back to school on August 29 with a breakfast and several guest speakers. Jene Korzeniowski, co-chair of Partners4PACE (P4P) opened up the breakfast with a few motivational words. Jene was followed by P4P member Alicia Lockhart who shared her message with the girls about the power of choice. Panera Bread provided the girls with delicious Danish pastries to start their morning. 

Pictured above: Partners4PACE co-chair Jene Korzeniowski (left) and Alicia Lockhart

Probation Youth Distribute Meals to First Responders in the Wake of Irma 


DJJ youth from Eckerd’s Project Bridge partnered with community members Jamie Cook, Angela Ehling, Susan Ehling, Jerrod Ehling, Dena Strickland, Melissa Villafuerte, Cristiana Villafuerte, and another member of the community who wishes to remain anonymous to prepare, package, and deliver over 120 meals to linemen, tree trimmers, the Arcadia Fire Department, the Arcadia Police Department, and other first responders working tirelessly to get the community back up and running from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

This outpouring of compassion from our youth and the community will not go unnoticed and many of the those receiving meals could not stop thanking the team for the meals as they were delivered. “We came all the way here with no food and didn’t know what we were going to do,” one lineman stated as our team provided meals for his entire crew. “We came here from Clearwater and left our homes without power to work on this community. It sure feels good to be appreciated,” another crew member stated.

 “I believe that God is going to bless us because we did something good for others today,” Toni Gunn stated. Youth Will Fugate followed with “Yeah, I feel like God wanted us out there today to help those people because they are helping so many other people.”

Today, as our communities heal from Hurricane Irma we will remember our community full of people who stepped up to the plate in the time of need to show kindness, love, and compassion. Storms will come and they will go, but stories like those created today will far outlive and outweigh the destruction intended by Hurricane Irma. 

I would like to send a big thank you to our probation staff at the Pine Hills building in Circuit 9. The facility has been without power since September 10 and while they do have a generator, it’s not enough to power the air conditioning system. Our JPOs have been working wherever they can find a space, whether it be the JAC, the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center or in the Osceola office, they have continued to come to work every day to carry out the Department’s mission. Assistant Chief Probation Officer Johnny Alderman and his supervisors have shown strong leadership in continually checking on their staff members who still do not have power in their own homes. Circuit 9 probation would also like to send a huge shout out to the IT team in Circuit 9 for allowing them to use their space. 

After successfully completing the nationally recognized food handler’s course, Safe Staff, DJJ students from AMIkids Emerald Coast were given an opportunity to see first-hand what they learned in the classroom on a field trip to The Inn on Destin Harbor and Gilligan’s Seafood Restaurant.

At the Inn, students enjoyed a complimentary continental breakfast while the Owner, Charlie Noonan and Hotel Manager, Carolyn Noonan, discussed the benefits and challenges of working in the hospitality industry. Additionally, they were given invaluable advice on what qualities and traits employers look for in an employee and how to recognize their own personal strengths to determine which career path might be best for them. After receiving a tour and breakdown of each department within hotel, the group headed over to Gilligan’s On the Harbor where they could explore a full-service kitchen just before the lunch rush. Students observed as the cooks prepped for the day and toured the “front and back of the house,” and even pointed out safe food handling practices and procedures they learned throughout the course! 

AMIkids Emerald Coast also worked with Food for Thought, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the youth within our community are fed and have access to food outside of “school hours”. Their mission provides a rare opportunity for our students as they have invited them to attend weekly “cooking” sessions with real chefs in a brand-new state of the art kitchen. Our first session was an absolute win!

Upon arrival, the students were greeted at the door and invited into the opportunity of a lifetime. The Founder and President of Food for Thought, Tiffanie Nelson, gave them a tour and introduced us to the chefs that would be working with them. The kitchen was set up with mini “cooking stations” for each student to prepare and cook their own meal; the first being a staple in every household: grilled cheese and tomato soup. The chefs walked them through step by step how to make a perfectly grilled, grilled cheese sandwich and how to make the soup creamier by substituting milk for water. The best part though- after cooking, they all sat down and enjoyed our creations together, just like a family.

Afterward, the youth helped clean the kitchen while Tiffanie and her crew prepared yet another surprise! On the way out, each student was given their own personal bag filled to the top with everything they needed to duplicate this meal at home: including the pan, spatula, salt, pepper, cheese, butter, and bread and tomato soup! Additionally, they were given their own binder with markers to personalize a book to hold their recipes.

Food for Thought went above and beyond to make this special and memorable for our students. Every day I hear, “I cannot wait until our next session!” or “I wonder what we are going to make this week!” The Food for Thought team absolutely nailed our first class with compassion and taking a genuine interest in our students. This is exactly the type of experience that changes lives for our youth; and that, to us, is priceless! 

DJJ Staff Participate in Suicide Awareness Walk

Evelyn Kay Jacobs and Doris Strong from the Bureau of Finance and Accounting participated in Tallahassee’s Annual Bluebird Run and Walk for Brookie B. on September 4 at the J.R. Alford Greenway in Tallahassee. The event was sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and was put on to raise awareness for suicide awareness and prevention. Doris Strong was a key member in the organization of the event, while Evelyn Jacobs lent her talents by singing an acapella version of America the Beautiful at the start of the five-mile run and walk. 

Residential Youth Help Their Local Communities Recover After Hurricane Irma

Last week, ten youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18 which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, along with members from the Advisory board went on an outing to help the community. They were eager to help after the hurricane and felt good about giving back. They assisted in picking up debris in yards and community areas. The young men enjoyed helping the community get back to normal operations after the storm.


The following day additional youth from Duval Academy went with members of the Advisory board to help distribute supplies after Hurricane Irma. They helped load carts with food and water and helped load people’s cars. The youth enjoyed giving back after such a devastating natural disaster.


Six youth from the Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy—both of which are non-secure programs for boys that are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, assisted the city of Hastings by filling up sandbags for the residents. The residents of Hastings were extremely grateful for the assistance as the youth helped fill up bags and carried them to their vehicles. The youth were excited to assist and relieve some stress in the local community.

Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, and Duval Youth Academy were evacuated to Jasper Youth Treatment Center due to Hurricane Irma. The two programs wasted no time in taking advantage of the opportunity for some competitive activities. The programs played two basketball games and had a flipping contest. What a great atmosphere of friendly competition and sportsmanship displayed by both programs.

The youth of Jacksonville Youth Academy jumped into action post Hurricane Irma by conducting the clean-up of Jasper Youth Treatment Center. The youth worked together in teams of five, to rake and bag debris from different areas of the facility. The youth were also given credit hours for community service. Special thanks to NW Senior Management Analyst II Dwight Poole for being of assistance and making us as comfortable as possible during this time. 

Earlier this month, the youth at Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys, ages ten to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, teamed with a non-profit organization, Women Helping Others of Tampa Bay, Inc. This event took place at Borrell Park-Nebraska Park of Tampa. The mission of this organization is to strengthen the community and perform charitable services with their vision being to help improve the lives of others by providing resources, information, and a variety of other services. The youth of Columbus JRF assisted in providing meals and care packages as they completed their motto by “making the community better one day at a time!”

In partnership with Calvary Chapel of Kendall, five youth from Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18 which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, participated in Homeless Outreach community feed in downtown Miami. The youth assisted with set up, hot meal serving line and assisting passing out bottled water and bagged sandwiches to others in the vicinity. This event served 84 people.

“It was an honor to witness these young men help and give,” stated Johnny Richardson, Facility Administrator. Special thanks to Mr. Jonathan Molina, mentor and Calvary Chapel member; Youth Specialist Mr. Mark Jones and Recreational Therapist Ms. Arielle Deverson, CRT, for their efforts.

Escambia Boys Base, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc. went to the fifth hotel and hospitality vocational certification class. Since last year, well over twenty students have received this certification. For six weeks, students will go to the Holiday Inn Resort on Pensacola Beach to receive training in maintaining and upkeeping hotels. Upon completion of the course, our partners at Innisfree Hotels will organize interviews for the youth at any of their many locations in Florida!!

From hospitality to team building, Program Manager Anthony Bowens and Activities Coordinator Trevell Shoemo from EBB conducted a ropes course team building exercise. The students had to complete the “Team Wall” and “Jacob’s Ladder.” During the debrief, the students articulated the importance of working together to complete the obstacles and how it relates to working with the staff and other youth to complete the program as well.

JoAnn Bridges Academy (JBA), a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Rite of Passage, hosted their first “Miss JBA Pageant” earlier this month during visitation hours. There were several families in attendance. The pageant introduced the youth to a wonderful journey to “empowerment”. The program encouraged and inspired the young ladies to be the best at whatever they choose to do positive in their lives. Each youth builds a portfolio, which is called “I-ACHIEVE”. The pageant was one way to achieve empowerment.

In preparation, for the pageant the youth and staff brainstorm with ideas to raise money. The purpose of raising the money was to give the youth a sense of ownership with purchasing items for the event. Also, the money was raised so no parent would have to be obligated to buying any items for this event. The youth participated in several fund raisers to pay for various items, such as food, clothing, shoes, hair and costume jewel accessories. There were also a lot of donations collected for this event. For instance, evening gowns, dress shoes, purses, sports equipment, and make-up.

As a surprise for the contestants, the program invited a professional make-up artist. Ms. Joi Collins is a local member of the community. Ms. Collins volunteered her professional service to assist the contestants with a make-up facial. Each contestant was able to embrace self-confidence and inner beauty.

Eight HBI students from Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, attended the Home Builder’s Expo in Pensacola Florida. The HBI students could tour all the latest innovations in the home building industry that are helping builders go green and do it with style. All the HBI students were well behaved and were welcomed by all the exhibitors as the students asked many questions about the products that were being displayed from solar to home security. This trip was very much needed, it allowed the students to gain knowledge and mostly afforded the opportunity to conduct themselves in a professional manner in a professional setting.

The HBI students were engaging in all the exhibitors’ booths and were able visually and physically piece together the training that they have received through HBI.

Staff Development and Training, in collaboration with Valencia College, presents “DJJ Supervisor Training,” designed to develop leadership skills for all staff professionals. Individuals must be a supervisor with DJJ, preferably with a minimum of one year supervisory experience, and currently have direct reports and/or operations oversight. Individuals with previous supervisory experience other than at DJJ will be considered as well as staff who are working on professional development to become a supervisor.

WHEN:       Monday, October 23 – Friday, October 27, 2017

                    8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

WHERE:     Valencia College, School of Public Safety

                    8600 Valencia College Lane, Orlando, Florida

To register, copy and paste this link (http://djjiws/docs/elt/supervisor-training-application.pdf?sfvrsn=0) in your browser from your DJJ computer, complete application and obtain signature from your supervisor. Submit application request and supervisor approval to Jon Howard via email at jon.howard@djj.state.fl.us or LEAD@djj.state.fl.us.

The registration deadline for this training is October 11, 2017.