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Secretary's Message

November 22, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

This week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and I am sure many of you are busy finalizing your plans in preparation for your holiday meal and much needed down time spent with your family and friends. I encourage each of you to stop and take a moment to truly celebrate this holiday by giving thanks for the many blessings that you have.

As many of us that work in the juvenile justice system know, there are many young people and families that are not as fortunate and I hope that you remember them this Thanksgiving. I count each of you as part of my blessings and I am thankful that I am able to be a part of a dedicated team of staff, providers, and community partners as we work to better the lives of Florida’s youth and families.

Thank you all for your commitment to DJJ and to Florida and I hope that you have a very happy and joyful Thanksgiving!


Christina K. Daly

2017 Florida Faith Symposium

On November 7-8, our DJJ team along with our partners at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Florida Faith-based and Community-based Advisory Council came together for the 2017 Florida Faith Symposium in Orlando. The Symposium is one of Florida’s premier events and brings together faith and state leaders to highlight opportunities, facilitate connections, and initiate action to empower Florida’s children and families to become productive and self-sufficient. There were close to 500 attendees.

Pictured left: Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims and I

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll and I delivered the opening remarks to the participants, while Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Prevention and Victim Services, presented the Champions of Hope nominees and winners.

Keynote speakers included Les Brown, author and community leader; Ben Tankard, Grammy nominated gospel keyboard player; Tonier Cain, human trafficking survivor and Melissa Walsh, who spoke on her life after being paralyzed in a car accident.

State Advisory Group member Cheryl Massaro and Faith Network Volunteer Consultant Andy Hindman conducted workshops. Workshops provided information and insight into programs related to child welfare, juvenile justice, family recovery and resilience that have been successful. Highlights included Champions of Hope awards presented to stakeholders for working with children and families and regional workshops that allowed attendees to meet with state agency representatives, partners and members of the Faith-based and Community-based Advisory Council.  

Remember FJJF when you Shop at Amazon 

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) has teamed up with Amazon Smile to provide a convenient and philanthropic way for you to support FJJF every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop through AmazonSmile at http://smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to FJJF.  Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations.

Simply go to AmazonSmile  anytime you want to make a purchase on Amazon and search “Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation” in the search box as your charity. The proceeds from your purchase will go to FJJF and benefit our children who are in need. Add a bookmark to AmazonSmile to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.  It’s convenient, charitable and the perfect way to shop for the upcoming holidays.  Thank you for supporting an important cause and making a difference in the lives of our youth!

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Circuit 14 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Michelle McCaskill who was recently recognized as the JPOS of the year for the entire state of Florida. McCaskill was presented with a commemorative gift and plaque for the honor from Chief Probation Officer Marcia Reightnour and Assistant Chief Fred Womack. Chief Reightnour thanked JPOS McCaskill for her 21 years of dedicated service to the Office of Probation. 

Pictured above (from left to right):  CPO Marcia Reightnour, JPOS Michelle McCaskill, and ACPO Fred Womack

Congratulations to Jackie Suttle and Hartley Baker for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for September 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 Captain Douglas Kane from the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named assistant superintendent of the year for the South Region. Captain Kane was recognized for his consistent team work and dedication, and has worked hard to decrease the number of vacancies in the facility. Captain Kane also assists with staff training needs and maintains a good attitude that helps to create a positive work environment at St. Lucie.

Pictured above: Capitan Douglas Kane (right) with Major Dedilia Finlayson 

DJJ Staff Attend Program on the Well-Being of LGBTQ Youth

Recently, Florida sent an interdisciplinary team to Washington, D.C. for the Supporting the Well-Being of System-Involved LGBTQ Youth Certificate Program hosted by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy, in collaboration with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Impact Justice.

Florida’s interagency team included: Dennis Driscoll (Detention Services - DJJ), Matthew Fitzgerald (Residential Services - DJJ), Bethany Gilot (Human Trafficking Director - DCF), Katherine Gomez (Office of Research and Data Integrity - DJJ), Elizabeth Phillips (Probation and Community Intervention - DJJ), John Robertson (Program Services Director - Florida Network of Youth and Family Services), and Jeff Wenhold (Statewide PREA Coordinator - DJJ). Florida’s team joined other teams from California, New York, Maryland, Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, Texas, and Arizona.

Pictured left (from left to right): Shay Bilchik, Elizabeth Phillips, Dennis Driscoll, Jeff Wenhold, Bethany Gilot, Katherine Gomez, Matthew Fitzgerald, and John Robertson.

The program was designed to help juvenile justice, child welfare, and other system partners target and improve outcomes for at-risk LGBTQ youth. The program focused on the particular challenges faced by LGBTQ youth in child-serving systems (including juvenile justice, child welfare, education and behavioral health) as well as strengths and protective factors common to the population. The program also highlighted effective policy and practice reforms that promote positive youth development and take a holistic approach to addressing their needs.

Participants received instruction from national experts on the terms and concepts related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE), and how to shape organizational cultures and approaches to support the safety and well-being of LGBTQ youth. This included guidance on how to develop effective policies, training, and data evaluation efforts; better identify and effectively engage LGBTQ youth and their families; build community capacity to serve this population; and develop comprehensive and multi-faceted strategies and supports that promote positive youth development. Specific attention was paid to the prevalence of multi-system involvement and compounding issues of implicit bias and stigma, racial and ethnic disparities, homelessness and commercial sexual exploitation of LGBTQ youth.

The Florida team will receive an Executive Certificate from Georgetown University, membership into CJJR’s Fellows Network, and ongoing support from the CJJR staff.

I am excited that Florida took part in this important certificate program and look forward to sharing more news in the future regarding Florida’s ongoing reform efforts to better support our youth.

Detention Officers Teach Papier-mâché and Facility Completes Their New Garden

Juvenile Detention Officer Michele Goodman from the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center knows how much the youth at her facility enjoy making arts and crafts. With that in mind, Officer Goodman came to work on her day off armed with supplies and shared her talents in making papier-mâché masks. The youth were taught how to make papier-mâché from flour, water and newspaper, and then they used their imagination to paint them. All of the masks are currently on display throughout the halls of Southwest and the first place winner (seen left) received a creativity award from the administration. 

The Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted the South Region Supervisors Focus Group on October 25. The group consisted of two juvenile detention officer supervisors from each facility in the South Region. During the afternoon meeting, the group took a tour of the Miami-Dade facility, and then followed with a roundtable to discuss important topics for our detention supervisors.

Supervisors:  Mushonda Gilchrist-Johnson, Roberto Santiago, Michael Mohr, Regina Sainval, Duviel Rosello, Cleo Burks, Anthony Butler, Sean Cohen, Mildred Towns, and Travis Battle.

Facilitators: Dennis McClure, Paul Britten, Christi Stua

In addition, the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted the Central Region Supervisors Focus Group on October 26. The two supervisors from each facility in the Central Region toured the facility and discussed important topics between supervisors.

Supervisors:  Ikea Smith, Brian Turner, Howard Bryant, Michael Cole, Laura Ortiz, Jennifer Jones, Austin Archibald, Gena Clark, William Perez, Betty Jones, John Swartz

Facilitators:  Dennis McClure, Paul Britten, Christi Stua

Congratulations to the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center and their volunteers upon completion of the facility’s new garden and self-watering irrigation system. This garden is helping youth at the facility learn how to care for plants as well as know how to grow their own food as a way of self-sufficiency. The Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center is incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful community that reaches out to show our youth tender loving care.

The St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a party for level three youth who were honored for good behavior. Over half the population earned good behavior marks and could attend and socialize without any incidents occurring. The staff at St. Lucie provided them with food, drinks and dessert including pumpkin and apple pies. 

Prevention Staff Hosts Circuit Advisory Board Training

Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) chairpersons and their designees attended a CAB Chair training session on November 6 in Orlando. The event was led by Statewide CAB Coordinator Tina Levene. During the meeting, I had an opportunity to thank the CAB chairs for their dedicated service and commitment to our agency and to present them with “Heartbeat of the Community,” awards. Chief of Policy Development and Planning Marcus Smith welcomed attendees and Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims provided a Prevention update. Faith Network and Volunteer Consultant Andy Hindman discussed the importance of faith representatives.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson took part in National Night Out Activities in Sanford. The National Night Out observance was hosted by the Sanford Police Department, Pepsi, and Target. The theme of this event was “Give Crime a Going Away Party.” DJJ Office of Prevention and Victim Services, as well as many other stakeholders, came out to celebrate this going away party. There was food, drinks, music, and plenty of community-based resources on display. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie in an attempt to make neighborhoods safer. 

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Pasco County took part in the United Way and Publix Day of Caring at their facility in New Port Richey. During their time at PACE, Publix associates helped clean windows, tables, and chairs while also writing notes and letters of encouragement for the girls. Before they left, the girls and volunteers completed an art project together.

As Central Florida’s largest volunteer event, Days of Caring gives thousands of volunteers the chance to make a difference in the areas of education, financial stability, health and basic needs. It is the region’s largest single-day volunteer event. Many companies will use this day of volunteerism to kick start their annual workplace giving campaigns.

Last year, more than 2,000 volunteers from the region’s leading companies and organizations took part in this team-building event. Volunteers take part in a wide range of projects, including building butterfly gardens, landscaping schools, painting classrooms and playing literacy-based games with students.

 Probation Staff Complete JJSIP Case Review and Participate in Team Building

Last week, Probation staff in Circuit 8 completed the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) case review process. The review was spearheaded by Juvenile Probation Officer Dollie Wygant who created and presented a PowerPoint during this review. Wygant spent numerous hours completing this project and went above and beyond by showcasing her work and set an exceptional example for others to follow. JJSIP is a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating "what works" into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.

Recently, Probation staff in Circuit 10 got together for an all staff, team-building meeting. Since the Circuit is comprised of Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, it’s rare that all staff members are in one place on a regular basis. The Circuit 10 team was updated on policies and procedures, but the highlight of the day was the teambuilding activities. Staff participated in the Spaghetti Tower Challenge, Tower of Cups, kickball, and line dancing, which were all great ways of improving communication, morale, motivation, and productivity. The meeting and fun challenges helped employees to get to know each other better and learn about one’s strengths and areas in need of improvement. 

In addition, the Circuit 10 probation team in Bartow participated in the city’s annual Halloween festivities for the 14th consecutive year. This year, our partners from the PACE Center for Girls of Polk County decorated the building and were greeted with over 100 trick-or-treaters from five local day care centers. The City of Bartow is celebrating 69 years of providing community Halloween festivities, with Circuit 10 Probation always serving as a willing participant. 

Pictured above (from left to right):  Rosa Ardito SJPO (center) and some of PACE Center for Girls Polk and staff.

Residential Youth Give Back to Veterans for Veterans Day

Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, were invited to participate in the Veterans Homeless Stand Down on November 2nd and 3rd at Striving for Perfection Ministries in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Stand Downs are typically one- to three-day events providing supplies and services to homeless veterans, such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and Veterans Administration (VA) Social Security benefits counseling. Veterans can also receive referrals to other assistance such as health care, housing solutions, employment, substance use treatment and mental health counseling. They are collaborative events, coordinated between local VA medical centers, other government agencies and community-based homeless service providers.

For the youth at Okaloosa Youth Academy, they were given an opportunity to earn community service hours at the event. Also, it was a chance to expose the youth to different supportive agencies that might be in their communities. The youth enjoyed volunteering at the event, and they appreciated the chance of serving disabled veterans.

This is the 10th year for the Stand Down, and it provided services to 123 veterans and 58 non-vets.

Earlier this week, 11 youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, attended the Blue Angels Air Show at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. They were amazed by the show and all the different maneuvers the pilots can do! All had a great time!

For Veterans Day, eight youth from Duval Academy walked in the Veterans Day Parade with members of the Advisory board. They passed out candy and walked the entire parade route. They had a great time!

Four youth from Duval Academy and the program’s advisory board celebrated Veterans Day by visiting the VA Outpatient Clinic. They helped by passing out fruit, water and snack packs to U.S. military veterans. The youth really enjoyed it and met many men and women who served this country. They were happy to help brighten the day of our servicemen and servicewomen.

Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, hosted newly appointed South Regional Director, Michell McCarthy, outgoing South Regional Director, Stephen Brown and Assistant Secretary of Residential, Laura Moneyham. The DJJ contingent were greeted by YOI representatives who gave the trio an overview of the tremendous work that has taken place over the past year.

Once the overview was complete, two of the youth leaders and Student Council representatives gave the DJJ staff a full tour of the facility. The young men were very articulate and detailed in explaining the day-to-day operations to include school, medical, treatment and leisure opportunities. One highpoint from the tour came when the DJJ staff got the privilege of observing one of our youth demonstrate the forklift simulator (pictured to the left). However, the highlight of the tour was Assistant Secretary Moneyham’s face when she walked into the pet room.

The fish tank was nice and Khloe and Chester (the birds) could be a distraction, but the puppies, Kane and Tiger stole everyone’s heart. “They are too cute”, echoed one of the DJJ representatives. The puppies who were attempting to rest did not stand a chance as mamma Moneyham carefully extracted one of the brothers from his resting place. Assistant Secretary was enamored by the smell of puppy breath (pictured left).

As the tour was near end, Steve Brown shared how happy he was to see such a significant improvement throughout the entire facility, especially the physical plant! He was excited that he got a chance to see this before he left. 

As the holiday season draws near, Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and the Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, decided to celebrate the youth’s positive behavior with coke and root beer floats. The kids were excited to receive ice cream and the root beer soda topped off the event. As ice cream floats were handed out, youth were encouraged with discussion on the merits of positive behavior and the positive results that come with it.

Hastings and Gulf Academy also celebrated their annual employee appreciation event. They celebrated with a barbeque dinner with all the trimmings, games of cornhole and basketball, door prizes, and employee shout-outs. They know that their employees go above and beyond for the youth and the facility as a whole. This event was held to express their sincerest gratitude for their hard work and dedication. Way to go staff!

Earlier this week, Kissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 21, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, hosted a graduation ceremony for one of the youth. This graduation was well deserved by a brilliant young man but as he reflected during his speech, he was not given much of a choice. As he recollected, he took his GED prep while in the detention center and somehow believed that was his path until the day of his intake and facility administrator, Sumpter James walked him into Mr. Nixon’s office, the Florida Director for YOI. Mr. Nixon told the youth directly that he would not be taking the GED exam and that he must earn his high school diploma before he completed his treatment.

Folks in residential programs across the state can attest to how tough some days can be but on days like today, it brings everything back into perspective and why we do what we do.

A huge thanks to Beth Rattie and the caring professionals from the Osceola school system. Also, a special thanks to Ms. Monica Webb from the Department of Juvenile Justice for always being supportive of the youth and staff at KYA. Finally, to Mr. James and the dedicated staff at KYA, keep pushing the envelope and setting the pace. You all are truly wonderful and are making a difference!

Youth at Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, LLC, were pleased to welcome guest speaker Joshua Bowen, who came to share his story and journey from troubled youth to Americas Region Head of Ocean Freight for Panalpina Inc.  Panalpina, Inc. is a Swiss company and is a provider of forwarding and logistics services, specializing in intercontinental air, ocean freight, and associated supply chain management solutions.

Panalpina, Inc. partnered with MYA in bringing some relief to Puerto Rico suffering from the impact of Hurricane Maria. Five youth from MYA, Recreation Therapist Arielle Deverson, and Youth Specialist Carlos Hemenegildo travelled to Panalpina for a tour and to prep their own shipment of items donated as part of the Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Thanks to youth mentor and volunteer Jonathan Molina, who is an employee with Panalpina Inc. and member of the Calvary Chapel of Kendal, who facilitated the visit.