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

Secretary's Message

December 28, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

As the holiday season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and pondering what the new year will hold. It’s been quite a year for us all and I hope that during this joyous time, you have the opportunity to celebrate with your friends and loved ones. I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to our DJJ staff, providers, partners, and friends for all that we have achieved this year and I look forward to all the great things we will accomplish in the new year.

As our year comes to a close, I would like to wish you season’s greetings and good wishes. May your holidays and new year be filled with happiness, peace, and prosperity.


                                                                                                                                                Christina K. Daly

It’s a Wrap – DJJ Festive Fridays!

It’s a wrap!

For the month of December, we invited all to participate in the Four Festive Fridays, as a way for all of us to have a little fun, fellowship, and laughter. 

We kicked off Festive Fridays on December 1, 2017 with “Ugly Sweater Day.” We received many pictures of yummy hot cocoa bars and breakfast buffets being enjoyed all around the state. Along the way on the Festive Fridays journey, a baked goods auction raised over $400 for the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation, very festive holiday ornaments were created, and many sent pictures of the masterpieces created. Door decorating contests were held and HQ also held a Chili Cook-off where employees could cook up their delicious chili creations. Special thanks to our judges, Sonny Peacock (PCI), Mark Greenwald (Research), and Dodie Garye (HR). The winner of the contest was Nathan Epps (Research). All of the chili tasted was scrumptious. Heading into the holiday weekend, the theme was “Create a Florida Snowman.”  We have so many creative team members out there and not one snowman melted.  The kindness calendar reminded us how the little things can really mean so much.

The photos above give you a glimpse of the festivity this past month!  Festive Fridays certainly turned out to be not only festive but a whole lot of fun!  It gave us an opportunity to re-connect with our co-workers and enjoying meeting new ones.   As this month ends, I would like to thank all who participated in making this month so festive.

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to John Chappell (not pictured) and Cedric Rempson (pictured left with Chief of Information Technology Dennis Hollingsworth) for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for October 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 Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Tiffany Green who was named Circuit 20’s employee of the quarter for the fourth quarter of 2017. Green has worked at the Lee County Juvenile Assessment Center for the last year and a half and has proven to be a great asset to the circuit management team. In addition to her normal duties, Officer Green also serves as the Field Training Officer for the Lee JAC and provides hands-on training for new staff members.

Congratulations to Administrative Assistant Mary Jane Wright who was recently named the Employee of the Year for Circuit 20. Mary has been with DJJ since March of last year. Prior to her time with our agency, Mary worked for the Department of Children and Families for 30 years and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the realm of human resources. Within a very short time span with DJJ, Mary worked independently and reflected tremendous skill in regard to effectively completing hiring packets, purchasing, inventory and a host of other tasks.

Congratulations to EJ Wozniak with DJJ Facility Services , Natosha Faul with DJJ Support Services  and Carol Walters with DJJ Purchasing & Leasing for being recognized as the General Services Employees of the Quarter for October-December 2017.  Each quarter, General Services recognizes an employee from each of the three sections: Facility Services, Support Services and Purchasing & Leasing.  We thank them for their hard work and dedication to DJJ!

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice probation officers (JPO) who graduated from Margate on November 9th and Orlando on November 17th.  Thanks to Secretary Daly and David Watkin, Director for the Department of Equity & Academic Attainment, Broward County Public Schools, for delivering the graduation address for the JPO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis, Learning Consultant Christina Ash, Adjunct Instructors; Maria Gilhooley and Michelle Hancock for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the circuits listed next to their names.

Leyyah Basanta (Circuit 17), Monique Bergan (Circuit 17), Javona Bush (Circuit 15), Neal Cunningham (Circuit 17), Sobhy Faltaous (Circuit 17), David Freed (Circuit 17), Chayaisha Fullard (Circuit 17), Kerry-Ann Gordon (Circuit 15), Tangela Graham (Circuit 15), Antwon Higgs (Circuit 17), Cassandra Laurent (Circuit 11), Jesse McCrary (Circuit 17), Re’Miche Murray (Circuit 17), Stacey Papin (Circuit 17), Hilairson Petit-Frere (Circuit 17), Fernando Pierre (Circuit 17), Lakeara Porter (Circuit 15), Patrick Schultz (Circuit 17), Renel Tanis (Circuit 17), Rodney Valcin (Circuit 11), Swaina Williams (Circuit 17)

Courtney Arnold (Circuit 10), Branden Broadnax (Circuit 9 ), Tiera Bryant (Circuit 6 ), Lisa Cosenza (Circuit 9), Dawrin Encarnacion Pujols (Circuit 9 ), Julian Hooker (Circuit 9), Lynette Johnson (Circuit 9), Nicholas Leedom (Circuit 12), Wendy Lewis (Circuit 9), Melishasa Martinez (Circuit 6), Damian Seymour (Circuit 6), Leia Thomas (Circuit 6), Latoya May (Circuit 9), Marlin Torres (Circuit 10), Joseph Vazquez (Circuit 10), Justin Wilson (Circuit 9), Cameron Woodson (Circuit 9 )

Detention Facilities Across the State Celebrate the Holiday Season

The Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center celebrated their 13th annual youth holiday party at their facility. The party welcomed members of the Palm Beach Juvenile Justice board, volunteers, public defenders’ office, court liaisons and our probation officers in Circuit 15. During the party, the youth had the opportunity to compete against one another with different poems, a rap contest and dancing. 

Four young men from the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center were rewarded for their great improvement during their stay in detention with a lunch with St. Lucie Superintendent Dedilia Finlayson. Each youth followed facility rules, attended class and assisted in daily cleaning. Two of these youth have already earned their high school diplomas and plan to attend college. 

Also at St. Lucie, Juvenile Detention Officer Roshandra Jones worked with several at the girls at the facility to decorate shirts for the “Teens in Tees” program. The girls created holiday designs on their shirts, which they wore to the St. Lucie holiday party last Friday. 

From teens to toddlers, the St. Lucie RJDC has a very involved sibling and child visitation program that works hard to encourage family interaction and involvement when our youth are detained. Visitation can also be scheduled outside of the normal visiting hours to accommodate working parents. Pictured right is Captain John Johnson holding one of our youth’s son during a scheduled special visitation. 


The Office of Detention Services Central Region Office recently held a safety meeting (left) with education staff from the Hillsborough County School System. In addition, the region staff got together for a holiday party (right) to celebrate the holiday cheer. 

Youth from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center participated in the facility’s first ever chimney decorating contest. The boys at Leon were separated into two teams and challenged the girls which totaled three chimneys. The decorations were judged by Assistant Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper and Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Teressa Chambliss from Circuit 2 and Leon Administrative Assistant Isay Gulley. The girls knocked out both sets of boys’ team to win the contest and received a donated meal from Publix which included fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, Hawaiian rolls and various desserts.

Amidst the excitement of the holiday season, the Central Detention Regional Office staff took the time out to provide some cheer for homeless families. Contract Manager Liz Dustin works with homeless families each week, and regional office staff made donations of wish list items for the families.

Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center (SWRJDC) held a job fair on 12/20/17. This process is relatively new for SWRJDC and has been fine tuned to make the hiring process more personable, informative, fun and swift.  Twenty-three candidates were invited to SWRJDC to participate in the hiring process.  The guests were greeted and welcomed into the facility, then ushered in to fill out and sign papers. The detention center administration, supervisors, mental health and medical staff introduced themselves and spoke about their experiences in detention.  The guests were then given an in-depth tour of the facility that allowed them to ask questions before the 2-hour Ergometrics suitability testing process began.  Once the testing process was completed, each guest was interviewed the same day on site.  

Probation Youth Receive Lunch From a Local Restaurant Owner  

Local Chick Fil-A owner Donald Adams made a visit to the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) and fed the students and staff lunch and played fun games with all of the kids. In addition, Mr. Adams gave each kid a gift basket with coupons for free food and a book. Many PCMI kids take home food from the facility over the weekend because their families are struggling, so this meal came as a real treat. Adams came to PCMI despite one of his Chick Fil-A stores closing due to a fire. According to Adams, he could have canceled, but couldn’t dream of disappointing the kids at PCMI. 

The probation team in Circuit 16 held a team retreat at Curry Hammock Park in Marathon. The park recently re-opened following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Staff members were trained on team concepts and effective communication. In addition, they participated in several team-related exercises and enjoyed a beautiful day in the fabulous Florida Keys building a more collaborative team to service the youth and families in our community. 

DJJ youth from AMIkids of Greater Fort Lauderdale worked with Foot Print To Success Clubhouse, a non-profit organization whose mission it is to assist youth and adults with serious and persistent mental illness in developing the skills and confidence necessary to lead satisfying and productive lives. Patients are at the clubhouse all day long, learning employability skills, pro-social skills, communication skills and independent living skills. One such living skill is cooking and our industry level SafeStaff certified students were excited to help, and they are eager to return as we build this ongoing relationship with Foot Print To Success Clubhouse.

Many thanks to the 2017 Probation Advisory Team (PAT) that is comprised of numerous staff from across the state with valued expertise and knowledge of the juvenile justice system. These individuals have worked closely with the probation headquarters leadership team to advise, plan and improve: workforce efficiencies, safer work environments, and service planning for Florida’s youth and families. 

2017 PAT members include: Reform Specialist, Michael Byrd (C2), Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors, Alan Hall (C3), Patricia Arroyo (C9), Cynthia White (C8) and Ann Marie Campbell (C15), Senior Juvenile Probation Officers Shanea Walk (C5) and Akiria Jones (C19), Administrative Assistants, Barbara Gallira (C14), Catherine Bens (C15), Theresa Evans (C7) and Colisha Thomas (HQ) and Secretary Specialist, Kandy Avery (C18).

Probation staff from Circuit 17 participated in the 5th annual Above the Influence (ATI) March at the City of Miramar Amphitheater, which was sponsored by the Broward County Public Schools, the United Way of Broward County and other community agencies. The annual ATI March helps participants celebrate their choice to live Above the Influence of negative pressures, eschew violence and avoid drugs. Students marched to make a statement, create awareness and show support.  Participants also enjoyed performances by step team dancers, cheerleaders, youth poets, marching bands and other local entertainers.  DJJ staff joined as a vendor, and DJJ youth participated in the march and assisted with cleaning up after the event.

Pictured right (from left to right): JPO Johande Serrano, JPO Tad Serran, SJPO Nancy Harbour, and JPOS Amber Goodwin.

Probation staff from Circuit 8 including Chief Probation Officers Rebecca Rogers and Assistant Chief Sandi Brannan traveled to Alachua Academy to celebrate the holiday spirit with the girls placed in the residential facility. The staff brought in goodie bags, which included candy, word search books, yarn, crochet hooks and homemade gourmet apples. Alachua Academy also provided a pizza party for the girls during this gift distribution. Thanks to the generous donations of probation staff members, Circuit 8 was able to provide candy and snacks for the youth at the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center as well.

Probation staff in Circuit 6 hosted a DJJ resource table during the Adopt-A-Block 2nd annual Christmas Festival at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League. The event gave food to local children and their families as well as gifts from Santa Claus. Our staff members distributed valuable family engagement brochures and talked with attendees about how the Department can serve as a resource to youth and families.

The Circuit 9 Probation team held their quarterly all staff meeting in mid-December, featuring a breakfast spread for all staff members in attendance. During the meeting, DIO Nakia Manning conducted a JJIS training where she taught our officers about special reports they can use to make their jobs easier and more efficient. Master Deputy Al Harrison from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office provided staff with information on drug trends in Orange County, specifically the kid-friendly packaging that is now being seen on the streets. Chief Probation Officer Jill Wells and Assistant Chief Johnny Alderman also recognized the following employees on their years of service: Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors Chercolby Robinson and Jerriel Lewis, Senior Juvenile Probation Officers Antonio Thompson, Egnis Ortiz and Valua Cooper, and Juvenile Probation Officers Nilia Brown and Patrice Smith.

Circuit 10 Assistant Chief Probation Officer Amy Stiles and Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery attended the PACE Center for Girls of Polk County’s Friends of PACE Thanksgiving luncheon in November. Being a “friend of PACE” means meeting monthly in a casual setting to help organize some fun events and activities for the center. Our staff had the opportunity to serve the young ladies and PACE staff a delicious lunch, all donated by local restaurants.

Circuit 13 Juvenile Probation Officer Rhonda Taylor and other volunteers put together swag bags for the 3rd annual Swag Bag giveaway for Judge Barbara Twine Thomas’ Girls Court on December 8. The bags were distributed to each of the girls from the court on December 18. The bags were stuffed at Roche Surety with donations from local businesses, juvenile justice probation officers and youth on probation supervision in unit 105 who received credit hours towards their ordered community service. 

Pictured here are some of the 66 bicycles that Circuit 20 Juvenile Probation Officer Shana Feren and Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Betsy Santiago helped collect and distribute to those in need in both Lee and Hendry counties. Officer Feren has taken the lead over this charitable cause and has distributed hundreds of bikes that were impounded but not claimed by the Cape Coral Police Department. The bikes, which would more than likely have been destroyed, are then fixed up by Resource Counselor Robert Ford from a Hendry County alternative school and made ready for good homes. This program has been taking place every 90 days for the last ten years.  

 Prevention’s PACE Girls Promote Empowerment and Decorate Christmas Trees

The PACE Center for Girls of Hillsborough County welcomed their PACE Partners with Girl Rising to Promote Empowerment of Young Women at Citigroup of Tampa. A kickoff partnership of Girl Rising and PACE Center for Girls Hillsborough was the highlight of the event at Citibank.  Citibank is a corporate sponsor of Girl Rising and hosted the affair, which included opening remarks by Girl Rising CEO Christina Lowery.

Stephanie and Jaylen, both 11th graders who attend PACE Hillsborough were honored guests. PACE’s Academic Coordinator, Lauren Haight, and science teacher, Shakira Crawley, sat on a panel led by Girl Rising co-founder Kayce Jennings to answer questions about PACE’s implementation of the Girl Rising curriculum.

Girl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment. The organization uses the power of storytelling to share the simple truth that educating girls can transform societies. Their mission is to change the way the world values girls.

The mission of PACE Center for Girls is to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counselling, training and advocacy; thus, the partnership between PACE Hillsborough and Girl Rising provided a wonderful opportunity to highlight the shared mission of both organizations.

High school juniors Stephanie and Jaylen felt they benefitted greatly from the Girl Rising programming and are looking forward to continuing to learn the principles it embraces.

Pictured above (from left to right): Doris Strong, Accountant III; Alice Sims, Prevention Assistant Secretary; FCCD President Elect Jennifer Boswell; Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht; Joy Ailstock, Department of Corrections; S. Michelle Whitworth, Supervisor/Capital Punishment Research Specialist, Florida Commission on Offender Review (formerly Florida Parole Commission) and Gina Giacomo, Director, Division of Administration, Commission on Offender Review. All are FCCD members.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and local chapter membership chair for the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) Alice Sims hosted a “Meet and Greet” session at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee to help encourage DJJ staff to join the FCCD. Assistant Secretary Sims was joined by longtime FCCD Member, Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht, and other local FCCD members as they provided an overview of FCCD. They discussed the outreach and engagement opportunities, training and the work of FCCD and its partnership with DJJ. About 30 DJJ staff attended.

FCCD is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of high professional standards for criminal justice agencies and criminal justice personnel. The keystone for FCCD is its educational programs that are designed to foster an interchange of information and training between the professionals in law enforcement, the courts, corrections, probation and parole, juvenile justice and interested citizens.

FCCD strives to improve the criminal and juvenile justice systems by examining problems, proposing solutions, and monitoring and evaluating the impact of those solutions. FCCD provides statewide criminal statistical and analytical services and fosters community-based crime prevention programs. To learn more, click here

T’was the day of the races and all through the land, EVERY creature was stirring to see the young’ins at hand. The air was cold, winds whistling through the trees, as you can tell from the folks who were huddled at the knees.

The crowd was excited, waiting for the start; while DJJ volunteers all came to play their part.

Scarfs, gloves and mittens they all wore; yes, they knew in their heart, there was so much more.

Then finally the sound of the start-gun rang through the air, and soon came the children, by the hundreds and thousands from each and everywhere.

Moms and dads, brothers, sisters screaming with cheer. But none were as happy as the DJJ volunteers.

The race was the 2017 Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championship. Of course, DJJ was there in full force, to help do their bit.

Well over 3,000, from far and near; so many boys and girls, with determination as part of their gear.

DJJ volunteers clipped and they snipped to retrieve the runners chip timers. And though it was chilly, none of the kids could have been kinder.

Deputy Secretary Niermann helped and wore his FSU garb, while smiling and telling each kid, “You did a great job”.

Before this tale ends, however, we’ll take just a moment; to thank Assistant Secretary Alice Sims for making it all worth it.

No, that’s not the end there’s still more to come. For next time it’s held there’ll be an even bigger race to run.

Special THANKS to all who participated in the 2017 Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championship, held at Apalachee Regional Park, Saturday, December 9. It was a huge success!

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III and Faith Community and Volunteer Consultant Andy Hindman attended a Faith Community Network “Restoring Hope” conversation in Gainesville. The forum was held in Circuit 3 at the Greenhouse Church. Faith leaders and providers from the community attended the training in which Andy discussed strategies to strengthen the faith network. Through this detailed training, the faith leaders and partners could gain some insight and ideas to better help serve the children and families in their community.

DJJ Education Staff Attends Student Engagement Institute 

Teachers Jessica Williams and Amanda McCoy from the Pasco County School System who work with DJJ youth in our Pasco detention and residential facilities made a presentation during the 2017 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute in Orlando. During their presentation, they shared Pasco’s collaborative model for helping at-risk students find their own pathways to success.

In addition, Vocational Case Manager Rachel Woods and Paraprofessional Bryana Perkins with Eckerd Challenge Youth Academy presented at the 2017 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute. They presented "Prep for Success: How to collaborate with your community to create an exciting and engaging job skills workshop for your students". The workshop provided information on how to incorporate community partners in quick "how to" stations for students to engage individually with community experts and learn relevant interviewing skills.

DJJ Education Coordinators Renette Crosby and Joey Nice made a presentation entitled “Why Not: Exploring the Obstacles in DJJ Schools,” at the 2017 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute in Orlando. Participants were given the opportunity to build a dream school through this hands-on presentation that included a discussion on overcoming obstacles in DJJ schools.

Finally, South Region Education Coordinator Pete Keelan along with English teacher Mary Cicci from Marion Youth Academy, participated in the team challenge games at the networking event held during the 2017 Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute event in Orlando. Team members had to compete in several events including puzzles, Jenga, and the final competition was Karaoke. Mary Cicci led the group in singing "My Girl", by the Temptations to a second-place win.

MQI Staff Volunteer with Human Trafficking Coalition and Work with Toys for Tots

South Regional Monitor Odilanda “Odi” Brito has served as a volunteer member of the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition for the past three years.  Ms. Brito is a dedicated member, who attends all quarterly meetings and participates in annual events sponsored by the Coalition. The Broward Human Trafficking Coalition is a coalition of individuals from the general public, those who serve it, and all community partners, in Southeast Florida who are individually and collectively committed to working to improve assistance for persons affected by the crime of human trafficking.  The mission of the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition is to raise awareness about human trafficking. The Coalition serves as an information, education, and networking resource for organizations, as well as the community.  Between the months of July and September:

  • There were 33 reports of human trafficking accepted by the Florida Abuse Hotline.  All 33 reports involved female youth.
  • 9 of the 10 verified cases of youth being trafficked were community youth, who were not under the supervision or care of Department of Children and Families / Department of Juvenile Justice. These youths resided with parents/guardians.
  • 1 of the 10 verified cases of youth being trafficked was under the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families. 

Odi says she feels a calling to advocate on behalf of youth who have been the victims of human trafficking and she works to ensure all youth who enter the care of DJJ have access to the many community resources available for victims of human trafficking.  We are proud to have Odi as part of the MQI Team.

Members from the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Central Region Team participated in the United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program by purchasing new/unwrapped toys and donating them to children in need.  The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters to assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. We are proud of our MQI Central Region Team for opening their hearts and wallets to less fortunate youth in their community. 

Residential Youth Celebrate the Holidays with a Wide Range of Activities 

Earlier this week, Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, held a Family Day to celebrate Christmas. Many families came and a large group of volunteers with the Evangel Temple church were on site. The church held a beautiful service and had different speakers who shared stories and sang for the youth. The youth who didn’t have family in attendance sat and talked with the volunteers. The church also served a big lunch. It was a really great day and everyone enjoyed the festive atmosphere.

Members from the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Central Region Team participated in the United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program by purchasing new/unwrapped toys and donating them to children in need.  The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters to assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. We are proud of our MQI Central Region Team for opening their hearts and wallets to less fortunate youth in their community. 

Members from the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Central Region Team participated in the United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program by purchasing new/unwrapped toys and donating them to children in need.  The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters to assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. We are proud of our MQI Central Region Team for opening their hearts and wallets to less fortunate youth in their community. 

Before the Family Day, the Duval Academy Advisory Board held their holiday meeting at the facility. Discussions were centered around upcoming volunteer opportunities for the youth and different things the board wants to do for and with the youth. Lunch was enjoyed by all and gifts were exchanged. Thank you for all you do!

To celebrate the holiday season, the youth at 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, were given the opportunity to decorate their doors to express their artistic talents and show their holiday spirit. The youth were excited to show their creative side and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this project. Pictured are some of the most popular decorations.

As the Christmas holiday approached, several volunteer groups took time the time to share with the youth at Hastings and Gulf Academy facility. The youth were blessed with food, goody bags, and fellowship. Everyone is extremely thankful to have such dedicated volunteers who consistently step up to the plate to make sure the youth are well taken care of. All youth enjoyed the celebration with various baked goods, soda, pizza, and Christmas music. Thank you! 

First Baptist Church of Jacksonville visited Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, to celebrate the holiday season with the youth. Members of First Baptist shared their testimonies and provided the youth with words of encouragement while enjoying holiday refreshments.

Jacksonville Youth Academy was invited as a special panel guest to the 3rd Annual Man Up Conference held at Northwestern Middle School. The conference consisted of 200 male middle school students. The youth had the opportunity to hear from motivational speakers, local entrepreneurs, youth pastors and a youth currently in adult prison. It was a great experience for the youth of JYA to share their stories and encourage middle school students to stay out of trouble. Special Thanks to DJJ NE Region Commitment Chief Virgil Wright for the invitation and hospitality.

The Management Team from Cypress Creek, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, went and completed a team building activity. The management team discovered we work better dealing with the youth than painting. It was a bonding activity and a break from our normal routine to get us ready for the busy year to come.

The youth at Charles Britt Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14-18 which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, have done it again! They have once again gone above and beyond and made us all proud! This week Charles Britt Academy held a graduation ceremony for three youth who have completed all requirements to graduate from high school in the state of Florida. Although graduating is a huge accomplishment, it is not the reason we are so proud. Charles Britt Academy youth, staff and educators are so proud of these young men because they entered the program with virtually no academic progress. They did not attend school, they had little-to-no high school credits, and they never saw themselves as future graduates. After conversations and planning with Charles Britt Academy staff and Pinellas County educators, these three young men changed the perception they had about themselves and made a commitment to be great. After much hard work from all involved parties, Charles Britt Academy is proud to say that these young men will be graduating from our program with something that no one can ever take from them – belief in themselves. Charles Britt Academy held a graduation ceremony for the young men and included their peers, staff members, Pinellas County educators, and of course, the graduates’ family and friends. The day was truly awesome, and we are ecstatic that we were able to take part in such a milestone in the young men’s lives.

Charles Britt Academy and their local community partners once again stepped out of the box and did something they have never done at Charles Britt Academy. Because we know how much you hate guessing we’ll give you a hint. This event filled our parking lot with Harley Davidson, BMWs, Hondas, Kawasaki’s and Hayabusas. If you guessed that Charles Britt Academy had it first Bike Show then you are correct. Charles Britt Academy opened its doors to over 50 bikers, riders and stunt men. This “out of the box” idea was put together by one of Charles Britt Academy’s Student Council Members and a Charles Britt Academy Supervisor that is a part of a bike group. The idea of having a few bikers come to Charles Britt Academy and show of their bikes to the youth quickly turned into a real-life bike show. After a few phone calls by a few members of the bike world, Charles Britt Academy had over 50 bikers sign up to show off their bikes, conduct bike stunts and even speak to our youth about making wise decisions. This event was truly remarkable and the youth and staff could see an awesome show filled with cat walking, wheelies and even witnessed a stunt man shoot a basketball while standing on top of a moving motorcycle (a real sight to see), but the best part of this event was when the bikers parked their bikes and began to speak to our youth about making positive decisions and being in control of their own lives. To see a physically tough, rugged biker in all leather cry in front a group of young men while telling them that they are loved was very powerful. It was truly an experience that the youth, the staff and the community will not soon forget. Charles Britt Academy would like to thank all the local biking groups that participated in this event and truly gave back to our youth and their community. 

A few days ago, ten youth from Orange Youth Academy/Orlando Intensive Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solution, were invited to attend the Orlando Community Arts, Inc., Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker Ballet event held in Orlando, Florida. The event was organized by Recreational Therapist Tavarius Roberson. The ten youth were chosen by staff members because they are doing all positive things in the program. The youth really enjoyed the event and were very appreciative to be allowed the opportunity to attend the ballet.