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Secretary's Message

October 31, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

It’s certainly starting to feel like fall in Florida with the cooler temperatures hitting most of our state this past week. Let’s hope that the autumn weather is here to stay, at least for a little while longer. This last week, our DJJ staff, providers, and stakeholders also continued to work hard 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

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Food Service Director James Vanscyoc and Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) Supervisor Jennifer Jones from the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center who were recently honored during a meeting of Central Region staff. James was awarded Food Service Director of the Year for the Central Region while Jennifer took home JDO Supervisor of the Year honors. In addition to his duties at Pasco, James has spent time at the Pinellas facility. Jennifer has served on multiple QI teams and has recently spent time at Hillsborough mentoring other supervisors. 


Congratulations also go out to Food Service Worker Marian Topakian from the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently recognized as the Food Service Worker of the Quarter in the Central Region. Marian goes above and beyond specifically on holidays and special occasions to do something special for our youth. She is loved by her staff members and gives 100 percent each day.

Last but certainly not least, congratulations to Corporal Joseph Llosa from Pasco who was voted the facility’s Employee of the Month for the month of September. Corporal Llosa covers shifts wherever he needs to and holds a wonderful demeanor with the youth. He is a great asset to the Pasco team.

Juvenile Detention Officer II Deborah Caldwell from the Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center was recently honored by Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler with the Assistant Secretary’s Extra Mile Award during a training session at the facility. Officer Caldwell is a positive role model and inspiration for her fellow officers, she shows support for her administration and is an angel to the youth in her care.

North Regional Director for the Office of Probation and Community Intervention Jill Clemens honored Reform Specialist Randy Reynolds as the Reform Specialist of the Year in the North Region. In addition, Regional Director Clemens recognized Michael Conville as the Juvenile Probation Officer of the Year and Rick Bedson as the Chief Probation Officer of the Year. 


Congratulations to Assistant Superintendent Sherell Dancy from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center who took home the facility’s Employee of the Month honors for October. Dancy continues to strive to make Leon a better place, and her leadership to staff during the recent storms was immeasurable. She continues to decrease the number of vacancies at the facility by hiring new employees and oversees the volunteer efforts as well.

In addition, Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor (JDOS) Micah Youmas from Leon has been named the Supervisor of the Year for the North Region of Detention Services. In addition to being a shift supervisor, he also serves as transportation supervisor and the detention review coordinator. JDOS Youmas is a very timely employee and shares a positive rapport with the youth and their families.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

As we recognize National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Bureau of Information Technology would like to take this opportunity to offer you continued advice in order to keep yourself and the agency safe in the Cyber world. It is important to remember, while the IT department employs different technologies to keep our agency safe, DJJ employees are also a key to successful Cyber Security. In reality, everyone is responsible for doing their part to keep DJJ safe.

  • Never share your passwords with anyone, including help-desk staff.
  • Create strong passwords by including special characters and using a combination of both upper and lower-case letters.
  • Do not write your passwords down and leave them near your computer.
  • Always lock your computer when you leave your workspace.
  • Always store CDs, USB drives or other removable devices containing sensitive information in locked drawers.
  • Use the network drives provided by your agency to save all important files and documents.
  • If you are assigned a DJJ issued laptop, make sure that you connect it to the DJJ’s network every thirty days or less for security updates and other patches.
  • Never open email attachments if you are unsure about the origin or reason for the attachment.

Think before you click on a link. If you are unsure, contact a member of IT and let them help you.

Prevention Youth Attend a Job Fair and Prevention Staff Recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls in Broward County attended the Opening Doors in Broward Job Fair at Atlantic Technical College in Fort Lauderdale on October 14. Through the PACE Works Program, approximately 10 girls enrolled in the Day and Reach programs were given the opportunity to invest in their future by attending the fair. The girls met with employers from various industries and exhibited courage by filling out applications, completing on-site interviews, and handing out copies of their resumes. Three of the girls who attended the fair have already received second interviews with a popular retail company.  The group of girls was led by their Career Readiness Coach Rose Anderson.

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls in Broward County attended the Opening Doors in Broward Job Fair at Atlantic Technical College in Fort Lauderdale on October 14. Through the PACE Works Program, approximately 10 girls enrolled in the Day and Reach programs were given the opportunity to invest in their future by attending the fair. The girls met with employers from various industries and exhibited courage by filling out applications, completing on-site interviews, and handing out copies of their resumes. Three of the girls who attended the fair have already received second interviews with a popular retail company.  The group of girls was led by their Career Readiness Coach Rose Anderson.

DJJ’s Office of Prevention Staff observed National Breast Cancer Awareness Month at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee by dressing in pink. The pink ribbon and color in general is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness and expresses moral support for women with breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and serves as an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator Tina Levene, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis from Circuit 1 attended the Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) meeting for Circuit 1 on October 13 at the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office.

CAB members including Circuit 1 Chair Edna Williams as well as DJJ staff and community members met with Tina as she steps into her new role as Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator. Tina will be attending CAB meetings throughout the state to offer technical assistance, management and support of the 20 Circuit Advisory Boards. Tina commends all CAB Chairs and elected officers for the great work they are doing throughout the state.  “It’s a privilege to work with such great leaders,” she said. “They are the heartbeat of their community!”

Pictured above (from left to right): Tina Levene, CAB Coordinator; Carmen Lundy, Delinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 1 and 14; Edna Williams, Circuit 1 CAB Chair; and Paul Wallis, Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer.

Detention Youth Hone Their Artistic Skills and Decorate for Halloween

The Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently held their first art class with artist Angela Dickerson from VSAFL. The youth at the facility were given a canvas and were able to draw free-hand to express themselves. As you can see by the pictures, our officers including Corporal Joseph Llosa and Officer Luis Cajinarobleto got involved as well. VSA Florida provides, supports and champions arts education and cultural experiences for schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, and community centers. 


Artists from VSLFL are continuing their program at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center. As mentioned previously, artists were working with the girls at the facility to create journals that they can use at Volusia and take home with them once their time is completed. This week the artists worked with the boys as they created journals of their own. 

The youth from the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center have gotten into the Halloween spirit by decorating the outside doors to each mod at the facility. Each mod was given the opportunity to suggest their own themes and ideas, and then decorated with the help of Sargent Gena Clark and Juvenile Detention Officer Danielle Hegler



The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) was decked out in pink this month in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The facility recently lost staff member Tammy McArthur due to this deadly disease, and the ‘pink-out’ was their way of expressing how much she is missed. 

The Orange RJDC also held a Hispanic Heritage event for the youth at the facility in conjunction with the Orange County Public School System. The event, which coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, featured guest speaker Federal District Court Judge Jose Martinez, who shared his remarkable upbringing and success story with our youth. Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Finally, the Orange RJDC has partnered with Be an Angel Therapy Dogs to provide pet therapy and spiritual guidance to our youth. The dogs and handler teams from Be an Angel are tested, registered and insured members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Their objective is to form a network of caring volunteers, from the Central Florida area, who are willing to share their ‘Angel’ dogs to bring happiness and cheer to people, young and old alike.

The Office of Detention Central Region Staff hosted a luau luncheon on October 20 to coincide with Spirit month in an effort to boost team morale. Each member of the Central Region staff dressed up in their favorite Hawaiian attire to celebrate the occasion. 

Pictured above (from left to right): OMC Lisa Arent; SMA Karla Edwards; OPM Monica Gray; GOC Kameika Bonner; SBA Ruby Itzen; OMC Jackie Vickery; GOC April Walker; GOC Melody Chisholm and SA Sandra Flament

On October 20, youth from the Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center spent the afternoon decorating t-shirts for their upcoming Halloween party. The staff and youth were very excited to participate in this fun activity and it gave them a great opportunity to get to know each other and bond together. The youth enjoyed using their creativity to make something special that they will be able to take home with them upon release. 

Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor Marco Robles from the Southwest Juvenile Detention Center has been providing haircuts to youth that are scheduled to leave the facility. This activity provides Officer Robles the opportunity to give the youth a one-on-one, man-to-man talk about what the youth needs to do to successfully complete his program. The moral support from JJDOS Robles and haircuts make the youth feel better about themselves, gives them more confidence in themselves and helps them mentally prepare to leave the facility. 

The Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a talent show for the youth at the facility on October 24. Duval RJDC invited local probation officers and the police department to attend and welcomed between 15-20 officers to the facility. The show consisted of youth performing positive spoken work presentations, singing or rapping. The talent show was put together by the education department at Duval and by Juvenile Detention Officer Reginald Lovely.

Probationary Youth Box up Meals for Hurricane Victims in Puerto Rico

DJJ youth from the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge program teamed up with Feeding Children Everywhere and over 54,000 volunteers in Orlando to package 4.4 million meal kits for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.  The meal kits are being shipped directly to FEMA for immediate distribution to the children and families devastated by the storms.  We are so proud of our community and team that came together to provide relief for those who need it so desperately.

Recently, Project Connect Northeast Area Director Kimberly Hixson received the following letter from a very satisfied mother regarding the transition services she received through DJJ in Circuit 4:

To Whom It May Concern,

I wanted to thank two ladies for their hard work.

Ms. Minnie Glover, Transition Specialist, and Ms. ShaMeicka Griffith, Life Coach have been by far a godsend for my family.  They have gone above and beyond to provide guidance, befriend, encourage and just be there for my daughter, TG, when she needed someone the most.  They were available to my family on the weekends even if they were scheduled to be off.  They may have been here for a short period in her life, however, they will be dearly missed and always remembered because they have a special place in our hearts - the next child is lucky to have contact from these two wonderful women that do an amazing job and are genuine in every way.  It must be mentioned how Ms. Minnie worked hard to involve my daughter in a pageant. TG was so excited because she was involved in something positive.  She got a chance to volunteer (helped the contestants put on make-up) and met some wonderful young girls who were doing amazing things with their life.  To date, TG talks about that experience and what it meant that someone thought enough of her to involve her in such a wonderful program where she could see young ladies showcasing the best of themselves.  I could not have asked for a better team.  They will be missed!

DJJ youth in Circuit 19 from the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge program recently participated in Crime Prevention Day at Fort Pierce Central High School. Project Bridge distributed information on the program and how community partners are involved.  A current participant of Project Bridge, T. Conze, discussed how the program has helped her along the way.  T. Conze is a member of the Criminal Justice Academy at School and looking to pursue this career in the future.  

Chief Probation Officer David Cornuet, Reform Specialist Michael Byrd, Juvenile Probation Officers Orlando Mendonca and Darylin Adegbayi, Statewide Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III attended the 5th annual My Fest Florida event at Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee. The highlight of the event, which featured over 500 attendees, was Onazina Washington dressing up as McGruff the Crime Dog.

My Fest, which is sponsored by Magellan Care, is a free music, art, entertainment and youth empowerment festival designed to inspire and empower young people while sharing information and resources which can help youth and families overcome challenges and achieve their goals and dreams. The DJJ Team volunteered throughout the day from setting up, to passing out food and closing the event. 

I am pleased to share the following letter that was sent to Circuit 6 Chief Probation Officer Melissa Fuller  from Assistant Public Defender Marcella Ruta whose client and mother praised the efforts of Juvenile Probation Officer Thomas Garcia. It reads:

Hi Melissa,

I just wanted to let you know that Youth M and his mom have high praises for JPO Thomas Garcia. I have never seen a client happy that their probation officer calls in, checks up on them and sets goals for him to accomplish. He actually came into court this morning saying that his next goal is community service! M has gone through a lot of changes in his life and with mom and dad now splitting, I think it is important that there remains some stability in his life and I am hoping Thomas Garcia can remain as his JPO. I believe that M is going to be living with dad in Seminole while mom works on getting back on her feet. I am not sure how long that will take, but it is possible that this may be just a temporary placement for M. I cannot tell you how much it would mean, not only to me, but to the child, to have Thomas remain as his probation officer. Mom even stated on the record in front of Judge Todd this morning how impressed she is with Thomas Garcia. I never wrote an email like this before and I hope that you give this some consideration. Please let me know if you have any thoughts.


Marcella M. Ruta

Residential Facility Holds Graduation Party for a Recent Graduate

RAM-C held its first graduation in several years, congratulations to Youth E.J.! Youth E. J., Ms.

Johnson (cafeteria supervisor), Elizabeth Williams (shift supervisor), and Nicole Miller (school) transformed the cafeteria for this special occasion. The residents rallied together to help create decorations, plan a luncheon, present the graduate with words of wisdom, and celebrate their peer. Each of the youth in the program dressed up for the special event using clothes from the clothing closet they built after Career Day. With the creation of the clothing closet, they can send home each youth with a nice pair of professional clothes for the interviews that are set up prior to release! The residents also created personalized graduation invites for E. J. to send to his family and friends as well as program staff. The event was a huge success and a great experience. Several youth had never seen a graduation before and loved it.

Earlier this month, Crestview Youth Academy (CYA), a secure program for boys, ages 13 to 21, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, completed its first inaugural staff training. Trainees went through a rigorous training to include instructor-led training, online Skill Pro trainings and crisis intervention training.

Trainings were conducted over a 3-week period, during the trainings staff were able to bond and completed the last day celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink! Newly hired Facility Administrator Diwon Barron spearheaded the ‘pink out’ by wearing his favorite “salmon” colored pants. Please join us in welcoming Mr. Barron to Youth Opportunity Investments.

In addition, Crestview also honored employees with a staff breakfast. Their awesome morale committee members prepared a wonderful breakfast that included a variety of fresh fruits, cheese grits, eggs, bacon, and waffles.

The employee breakfast was a great way to promote unification amongst staff. This was a great way to jumpstart the resurgence of the newly established YOI Crestview organization! They are excited about the future of Crestview Youth Academy.

Earlier this week, 10 youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, attended a Breast Cancer Walk. They had a great time and enjoyed setting up and helping our advisory board members, Ms. Annie Smith and Ms. Herlena Washington.

Superstition would have you believe that bad things happen on Friday the 13th. Instead on Friday, October 13, 10 young men from Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, a secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, LLC, participated in a 3-day weekend orientation journey that they hope would change their lives forever. Volunteer mentors from Volusia County and surrounding counties led the Kairos orientation; giving the youth historical information about Kairos, what they can expect, and helping them to map out their future. The volunteer mentors will work with the youth on a weekly basis over the next six months to help them improve life choices and acquire new God-centered values.

Facility Administrator Mr. J. Crenshaw appreciates the volunteers for taking the time to commit to our youth, to help them to become productive citizens of their communities once they are released. “It is my sincere hope that the youth will walk away from Kairos with a different perspective on life”.

Several of the youth were thankful for the opportunity to participate in the orientation; there was an abundance of food on the menu and the time of learning will be a memorable weekend for a long time.

Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, youth got to experience Tarzan the Musical! Part of the goal was to expose youth to a variety of normalized experiences. Giving them the opportunity to see things outside of their home environment. As we know, one of the easiest way to bond with our youth is through music. However, there is more to music than just rap and being a rapper. Earlier this month, six youth were taken to the Broward Musical Theater for the performance of Tarzan the Musical. The play is based on Disney’s Epic animated adventure featuring music by rock legend Phil Collins. The boys really enjoyed themselves, stating it was something different and outside of anything they would have done on their own.

From music to medicine, the Broward County Health Department conducted an HIV and STD Seminar recently at the program. Every youth got the opportunity to participate in the seminar and ask health related questions. The facility nurse was present as well to reinforce heathy and safe practices. The seminar wasn’t just information overload but presented in a calm game-like atmosphere and there was no such thing as a dumb question. Broward Youth Treatment Center looks forward to a continued partnership with Broward County Health Department.