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Secretary's Message

December 13, 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

Call for Nominations-Youth Ambassador Awards!

Each year, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), members of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA), the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF), and youth program providers celebrate Youth Success Day. It is hard to believe, but Youth Success Day 2018 is quickly approaching!

To celebrate youth success, DJJ selects Youth Ambassadors to be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. This year, we will be honoring our Youth Ambassadors at the FJJA Legislative Reception on the evening of January 23rd at the Historic Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

We need your help identifying youth who are celebrating success! Youth Ambassadors must have touched the juvenile justice system in some fashion and be 22 years of age or younger. Please go to the link here to nominate a deserving young person. Nominations will be accepted through December 14th.

We look forward to receiving your nomination and to recognizing these inspirational young people for their hard work and achievements.

If you have questions about the nomination process or Youth Ambassador awards, please contact Amanda Slama at Amanda.Slama@djj.state.fl.us.

 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 Operations & Management Consultant Manager Jackie Vickery who was named the Central Region Employee of the Year for the Office of Detention. Ms. Vickery has served at DJJ for 11 years and began her time at the agency serving as a fiscal assistant at Pasco Juvenile Detention Center. She is proactive and has a hands-on approach in overseeing the central region’s fiscal matters. Ms. Vickery is also currently enrolled in the Certified Public Manager Program. 

DJJ Mentoring Program Takes Youth to FSU Football Game

DJJ staff members who served as mentors with the STARS Academy of Tallahassee recently took their mentees to a Florida State University football game. The kids had the rare opportunity to stand on the sidelines near the team and have their pictures taken with mascots Chief Osceola and Renegade. This was a once in a lifetime experience for these at-risk youth and all who attended had a great time.

Detention Facility Honors Students of the Week

Congratulations to the two youth from the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center who were selected by the education department as the facility’s students of the week. Both of these youth have been able to maintain their level three status for the duration of their detainment, which is a fantastic accomplishment. 

The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed Juvenile Circuit Judge Robert Long to the facility. Judge Long (pictured right with Leon Superintendent Conrad McCray) toured Leon and saw first-hand the benefits of the facility’s behavior management system. Judge Long was very inquisitive about the processes youth follow while at Leon and expressed how impressed he was by the staff and the overall changes the facility has made in a positive direction. 

Also happening at the Leon RJDC,  a hot cocoa bar was provided for detention staff, teachers, and level three youth who earned incentives based on their behavior and participation in their classes. The youth enjoyed having a chance to relax and sit down with staff over hot cocoa before class. Overall, this event was well received and appreciated by everyone who participated. 

Prevention Staff Conduct Program Visit to Local PACE Center for Girls 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson and Operations and Training Director Yvonne Woodard conducted a program visit to the PACE Center for Girls of Orange County at their facility in Winter Park. During their visit, to the Orange County center, Yvonne and Dionne toured the site, learned more about the Orange PACE Center, and its daily routines. They also learned of life struggles some of the girls’ experience, and of the many achievements they have conquered as well.

Orange PACE Center provides academics services, wrap around services, yoga classes, and have life skills classes using the Spirited Girls Curriculum, which focuses on health, communication, and positive decision-making. Since its founding in 1991, PACE Orange has served girls through three distinct components: academic, social services and transition services.

Pictured above (from left to right): Operations and Training Director, Yvonne Woodard; Jean-Ann Moses, PACE Center for Girls; and Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Dionne Anderson

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson attended the My Life of Central Florida meeting in Kissimmee. The meeting was hosted by Federation of Families of Central Florida, Created Families, Inc., Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Magellan Complete Care.

My Life is a free, fun and inspiring group for youth between the ages of 13 and 23 who have experience with mental health, substance use, foster care and other challenges. Through My Life, youth can feel supported, make friends, have fun, display their talents and learn about topics that are important to them. My Life offers youth chances to build confidence, positive social supports and leadership skills.

Through their training, the group empowers youth to use their experiences and voices to create positive change for themselves, other youth and their communities. There was dinner, games and prizes for the youth as well.

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Hillsborough County attended the Women’s Conference of Florida in Tampa. Thanks to a generous donation from Amscot, young women from the PACE Center enjoyed an engaging and productive time at The Women’s Conference of Florida, which offered opportunities for the girls to participate in the College Women on the Rise workshops with 30 upper-class college women representing Florida state colleges and universities.

The College Women on the Rise program benefits low-income, academically qualified students who despite their unique circumstances, have persevered and remained dedicated to their future success.  During the event, the young women from PACE Hillsborough participated in a range of inspirational breakout sessions and workshops focused on topics including financial literacy, mentoring, and leadership, and gained exposure to a variety of nationally-recognized keynote speakers and attendees from across the state of Florida.

The event touched on the most important issues facing women in Florida. Executives and the young women who represented PACE gained insights from some of the nation’s most accomplished women addressing timely and relevant issues that impact women. The leadership conferences included: Personal Empowerment, Living a Rich Life in Every Way, Language of Leadership, and Disrupting the Status Quo – Florida Women Leading in Male-Dominated Industries.

The PACE Center for Girls of Escambia County took part in the United Way’s 25th Annual Day of Caring. The girls at PACE Escambia-Santa Rosa donned their orange Live United t-shirts and traveled to partner agencies in the greater Pensacola area for Annual Day of Caring. Some girls gave back to the community by painting ‘Kindness Rocks’ with the students at West Pensacola Elementary School. Other girls helped stuff envelopes and prepared mailers at Holm Elementary School.

The third group spent the day planting a new landscape and repainting the Goofy Golf Course for The First Tee of NW Florida. PACE Center for Girls Escambia - Santa Rosa was proud to join over 1,200 volunteers in the community-wide initiative to connect volunteers and resources with local agencies and schools in need of support.

As PACE girl Nakell said about her Day of Caring experience: “Volunteering has taught me that I have something to offer; I am of value and I can be a role model and leader.”

 Probation Youth Volunteers for Local Charity and Staff Organize a Food Drive

Liberty County Recreation Director Ray Glisson and Project Connect Transition Specialist Michelle Glisson hosted a softball tournament for the Love for Liberty Christmas Outreach Program on December 2.  Love for Liberty is directed by Melissa Peddie of the Liberty County.  Currently, the county has 181 applications for families in need of Christmas gifts for their children.  It was the goal of the tournament organizers to raise and receive 250 toys for Love for Liberty by hosting a co-ed softball tournament at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Bristol, FL.  The entry fee for each team to play was 15 donated toys per team.  Although they fell short of their goal by only 9 toys, the event was a big success for Love for Liberty.

To support the event, volunteers were requested to help organize, pack toys, umpire games and assist in the concession stand.  Project Connect Youth CR from the Liberty County area immediately volunteered his time to assist.  This young man could have been doing anything else on a Saturday, but chose to help make a difference in his community by helping the tournament be successful in raising and receiving toys for children who would otherwise not have any at Christmas.  Youth CR arrived at the park at 7:00 AM and helped wherever he was needed until 5:00 PM.  This young man could experience first-hand what it means to help those less fortunate, gaining nothing in return. 

Youth CR stated he would gladly do it again and now understands and enjoys the feeling of helping his community for the greater good.  He never thought he would ever get to be part of something like this.  For him, this community event was more than helping others, it was a life changing event which made him feel like he was making a difference in the world around him, all for the better.  We applaud this young man and others like him who are learning the true value of helping their communities this holiday season. 

Circuit 1 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Benjamin Rich recently went above and beyond to help a youth on his caseload find adequate transportation. The youth lives ten miles from the nearest town and couldn’t complete his community service requirements or employment after school due to his lack of transportation. JPO Rich spoke to the owner of a local bike shop and explained the youth’s situation. The owner was so moved by the story that he agreed to sell Rich a bike at a drastically reduced price. Rich donated the bike to the young man who was very appreciative of his early Christmas present. With his transportation now in place, he plans to get a job so that he may buy a car and then donate the bike to someone else in need to pay it forward.

Eckerd Connects Community Connections of Pinellas County recently hosted their annual Juvenile Probation Officer Mix and Mingle event. This event gave youth the opportunity to enjoy some time with their JPO while creating Christmas ornaments and decorations. The youth shared holiday stories and discussed their future during this pro-social activity.

Last week, Juvenile Circuit Judge Stacy Ross from Circuit 17 hosted her annual Dolphin Day in her courtroom. Dolphin Day brings players from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in to speak to our probation and at-risk youth. This year, offensive lineman Mike Pouncy came to court to talk about his difficult childhood and growing up to be an NFL star.  Mr. Pouncy emphasized work ethic and good choices and credited God and his family for helping him to get where he is. My thanks to DJJ staff members Andrew Beatty, Hayley Campbell, Danielle Penn, Janice Charlassier and Nancy Harbour (seen right with Mr. Pouncy) who attended this event.

JPOs Shana Feren and Michael Teal from Circuit 20 recently spearheaded a food drive to assist families in need in Hendry and Glades counties. JPO Feren distributed food baskets which were donated by stakeholders and partners in the local community. These food baskets consisted of turkey and all the trimmings and were given to 31 local families in need. In addition, over 3000 canned goods were donated which allowed JPO Feren and JPO Teal to restock the food pantry in the office for emergency assistance for families throughout the year. 

Residential Youth Participate in Microsoft Training and Go Bowling

Rite of Passage programs instill the importance of honoring achievement through yearly rituals and celebrations. During November, students at JoAnn Bridges Academy (JBA), a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Rite of Passage, participated in three days of activities surrounding the Veteran's Day holiday that honored those who have served our country by recognizing their service, sacrifice and heroism.

Joann Bridges Academy students volunteered for Post 251 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The students assisted in hosting a banquet honoring the Post 251 Veterans providing and installing decorations, serving the meal and participating in the ceremony. During the event, students gained tremendous respect for the men and women who serve our country and learned valuable lessons as each veteran shared his or her personal story.

Joann Bridges Academy also invited several veterans from the community to attend a recognition ceremony hosted on-campus. To prepare for the event, students researched the historical significance of Veteran's Day and learned about the many ways in which servicemen and servicewomen protect our country and our freedom. Inspired by all they had learned over the past few days, JBA students thanked each veteran in attendance, stating: "Thank you for bravely doing what you've been called to do so that we can safely do what we're free to do."

Youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral, participated in a bowling outing at the end of November, at the Nassau Bowling Center in Fernandina Beach. Everyone had a great time participating in positive competition. 

The Youth of Jacksonville Youth Academy also spent a day at the local Microsoft store participating in a computer workshop. The free hour and a half workshop offered a high-energy, collaborative environment for participants to fuel their energy and learn new ways to create video stories with Paint 3D, one of the newest Windows 10 creativity apps. By the end of the workshop, students had created their own mini-movies with 3D models, Windows Ink, special effects, and a soundtrack.

At the end of November, Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida and Shanna Carter of Krumpin 4 Success provided three youth the opportunity to attend a Microsoft training. They learned how to use the different programs in Microsoft Office while having lots of fun and increasing their entrepreneur skills.

Head coach of Hawthorne High School Cornelius Ingram recently visited and spoke with the youth at Marion Youth Academy , a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida. Mr. Ingram is a former tight end for the University of Florida Gators and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009.

His purpose in life is to try to reach out to the younger generation and help them never give up on their dreams. He inspired our youth, explaining to them they have a second chance to make the right choices in their lives. Thank you to Coach Ingram, for giving back to the youth in our community and a special thank you to Mrs. Heath for arranging his visit.

Local community leaders recently joined the staff of Challenge Youth Academy to present their second Prep for Success event. Challenge Youth Academy (CYA), is a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, operated by Eckerd Connects. This event served as CYA’s follow up event to their inaugural Prep for Success workshop back in January of this year, and is led by Vocational Case Manager Rachael Woods. While the first event focused on career building skills, the theme of this event was geared towards educating CYA’s young men on how to successfully navigate the legal system. Prep for Success is designed to be a workshop where there are ten stations, each staffed by an expert moderator. Ten youth attend at a time, one at each station where they spend 3-5 minutes at each station. Every station deals with a different topic that both youth and adults feel fit the specific youth’s needs. A special lunch of smoked chicken and all the fixings was provided by CYA’s very own direct care staff, Mr. Brian Singleton. Each participant received a “swag bag” with items to take away as a reminder of the knowledge and skills learned during Prep for Success. This continues to be a unique event that captures the attention of the youth and engages all who attend.

This event has given the youth, staff, and volunteers an incredible amount of useful knowledge that will carry and stay with them throughout their future. Ms. Woods and her team, which includes Transitional Case Manager Angela Bailey and Paraprofessional Bryana Perkins, have worked tirelessly to ensure that this event was a success. Ms. Woods and Ms. Perkins plan to present the Prep for Success event at the Education Strategies & Student Engagement Institute Conference in Orlando. The idea is to share their knowledge with other educators across the state of Florida.

The youth of Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for boys, ages ten to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions teamed with Lighthouse Gospel Church in its annual Thanksgiving food basket giveaway. This evening’s event began with a musical praise and worship service by the Lighthouse Gospel’s praise team. The event also included a personal testimony by two members of the church and finished with a dinner service for all attendees and volunteers. This event was held for those in the community who did not have the family and resources to partake in a Thanksgiving celebration. The Columbus JRF youth also assisted attendees who needed help carrying items to their vehicles. 

The youth at Orange Youth Academy (OYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 21, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, love that chicken from Popeyes! Recently Ms. Bracey, the General Manager at Popeyes in Orlando donated 10 boxes of chicken to the youth at Orange Youth Academy for doing all positive things in the program. The youth were very grateful and appreciative of the donation from Popeyes Chicken. Many thanks to Recreational Therapist Tavarius Roberson from OYA for facilitating the donation.