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Secretary's Message

March 20, 2018

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

Youth Work Experience Program Provides Opportunities for Public Service and Training Experience

Last week, I was excited to take part in a presentation of checks from the Youth Work Experience Program. The Florida Department of Transportation’s Youth Work Experience Program provides an opportunity for young men and women to obtain public service work and training experience that promotes participation in community enhancement projects. This program allows youth to gain valuable job readiness skills and work experience, while also fulfilling their restorative justice obligations of community service, court costs, and restitution. 

After each daily participation, the youth earn a stipend that will be used to pay their financial obligations to the court. Program staff, in cooperation with the youth’s juvenile probation officer, make payments directly to the local court system on behalf of the youth.  Once the youth’s obligations have been met, the payment of the stipend will go directly to the youth to use for transition-related expenses.

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Congratulations to Captain Louise Hill who was recently promoted to Assistant Superintendent at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Shown below is Captain Hill during her badge and stripe pinning ceremony, which was completed by Major Adrian Mathena and Major Dedilia Finlayson.


DJJ’s Office of Information Technology wants you to avoid social engineering and phishing attacks with some helpful tips. So, what’s phishing? Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords by impersonating a trustworthy entity or person in an electronic communication. More than 90% of data breaches start with a phishing attack.

Phishing scams can have a number of different goals. They may attempt to:

  • Target and steal your personal information (social security number, credit card or banking information, etc.…)
  • Gain control of your computer and local network resources
  • Gain access to your DJJ Account and resources

To protect yourself from these scams, you should understand what they are, what they look like, how they work and what you can do to avoid them.

How do you identify a phishing email?

The following recommendations can minimize your chances of falling victim to a phishing scam:

  • If you don’t recognize the sender nor the subject, do not open the email. Embedded images and links contained within the body of the email can be malicious in nature and can infect your computer or leak useful information for the attack. The email can also be sent from public webmail such as Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
  • Don’t trust the display name. Attacks will spoof the email address and displayed name of the real entity/organization.
  • Use your mouse to hover the pointer over any link in the email. If the link looks strange to you, do not click on it. Instead, open up a browser and type in the website directly. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  • Check for spelling mistakes. Firm-issued emails are usually reviewed multiple times before being sent while phishing emails are not and usually will contain grammatical mistakes.
  • Attacks will create a sense of urgency such as an account suspension, service interruption, etc. if you do not do what is indicated in the email.
  • Embedding malware in a Word, PDF or Excel document is a common practice. Do not open the attachment if do not recognize the sender, whatever the file extension is.
If you think that you have received a phishing email or have revealed sensitive DJJ information, report it immediately to geoff.fulcher@djj.state.fl.us 

DJJ Staff Host Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conversation in Clearwater

The DJJ Offices of Probation and Prevention held its 11th Bridging the G.A.A.P. Discussion in Pinellas County. In collaboration with North Greenwood Aquatic Center, United Way Suncoast, Clearwater Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, through the efforts of partnership a successful G.A.A.P. was made possible.

This event was a question and answer forum looking for ways to improve communication between youth and law enforcement. The highlight of the forum was when the youth came up with questions of their own to get a better understanding of the law.

The youth and law enforcement officers were engaged as they learned the roles of the officers. The youth also learned more about the juvenile justice system and the importance of making positive choices.  There was powerful dialogue about stereotyping, profiling, how youth feel about law enforcement, respect, bullying, auto thefts, threats against schools, power of social media, and mentor experiences.

Special thanks to Rod Carter from WFLA-TV who was the moderator for the event. Many thanks also go to the following staff who assisted in this event: JPO Damian Seymour, JPO Emily Rodgers, JPO Ronneisha DeSylvia, JPO Regina Booze-Bostick, JPO Alex Johnson, JPO Kim Money, Statewide CAB Coordinator Tina Levene, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee. 

DJJ Faith Network Partners Participate in Teen Dating Violence Symposium

Dionne Anderson, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, for Circuits 9, 18 & 19 conducted a site visit with DJJ prevention provider, Boys and Girls Club in Fort Pierce. The facility offers the Skills Mastery and Resistance Training (SMART) program to the youth in their community. The SMART program is designed to promote substance-abuse-prevention and avoidance of early sexual activity. The SMART program also helps young people develop better decision-making and refusal skills. It helps the youth become more assertive and recognize negative peer and media influences. During her visit, Dionne toured the Boys and Girls Club facility and provided technical assistance and support.

In photo above (left to right): Chief Operating Officer Melanie Wiles, Chief Executive Officer Will Armstead, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson, and the Boys and Girls Club staff.

PACE Center for Girls, Polk has recently received and initiated the “Step Up the PACE in Math Through Art” grant for the second time. This project occurs weekly and incorporates art with various math concepts, tying the two together. Many girls have shown improvement not only in their math skills, but in their artistic abilities as well.  Mrs. Sherlonda Anderson, PACE Polk’s math teacher, works with the class every week.

PACE Polk is continuing the initiative this year through the involvement of outside resources. The GiveWell Foundation has provided the Math Through Art grant to PACE Polk again this year. As a result, the program can have an art teacher from the community come to the center on a weekly basis to assist in incorporating art skills into the girls’ math classes.  The girls learn a new art skill each week and are able to correlate it with a math concept. For example, in the past the girls were able to create a self-portrait through the use of geometric concepts and the creativity of art. This assignment gave the girls a way to express their creativity and apply their skills while simultaneously learning the material. 

DJJ’s Circuit 19 Faith Community Network in conjunction with WE LEAP INC. recently hosted its annual Teen Dating Violence Symposium in St. Lucie County. WE LEAP INC. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, domestic violence awareness, intervention, prevention and outreach organization based in St. Lucie County. The mission of WE LEAP is to provide domestic violence awareness presentations and outreach initiatives that promote healthy relationships, educate youth, teens, and adults on how to break the cycle and break the silence of domestic abuse.

WE LEAP is also a faith partner in the DJJ Faith Community Network in Circuit 19. The Faith Community Network is a vital component in the Office of Prevention and assists the Department in ensuring that children and families in Florida live in safe, nurturing communities.

At the symposium, youth and families came together with community providers to discuss healthy relationships.  Speakers discussed signs of abusive relationships and issues related to dating violence.

Residential Youth Succeed Academically and Compete in a High School Basketball Game

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy’s HBI program, a vocational skills component, involved the youth in helping to maintain the facility grounds. The youth do an excellent job in keeping the lawn looking nice and trim. Mr. Rodriguez, the head of the HBI program, says the best part is teaching youth skills they can use at home as well as seeing the excitement on the youth’s faces as they see the job was well done. 

St. Johns Youth Academy’s, a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel, Sr. Varsity Boys traveled to Green Cove Spring to play the Clay County High School boys in a basketball game. This year, St. John’s Academy has a completely new team and this was their first time competing outside the facility. The program’s recreational therapist held tryouts for the team. 25 boys tried out for the team and 12 were selected. To stay on the team, the boys must maintain a 3.0 GPA, have no violations in the past 30 days, and must be a positive peer on campus. The young men are evaluated daily and must continue to display positive norms to remain on the team. The team participated at a high level of competitiveness however, the Clay County Varsity boys won the game with a final score of 60-61. 

Every Wednesday, several young men at St. Johns Youth Academy work with Certified Master Meditation Instructor KaZ Akers who guides them through a series of exercises based on a unique technique she has developed through 24 years of teaching. In a noncompetitive format KaZ makes movement, meditation, music and conversation seamless for her students. She leads them in a physical warm-up based on movements from Qigong (the mother of Tai Chi), dance and physical fitness. This assures their joints, ligaments and muscles are prepared for more in-depth movement. Plus, it releases any stored or pent up energy from the day to prepare for the seated quieter parts of the class. The more in-depth movement work addresses balance, coordination and attention. These movements are set to up-tempo culturally diverse music. Following the physical movement, everyone is seated comfortably to begin the deeper work of breath, energy and focus exercises. These exercises addresses their emotions and relieves stress and tension. They are set to peaceful and calming music such as the Chinese flute. Following this segment, KaZ or a student will read a passage from the work of an inspirational leader. Students are also supported if they wish to express themselves voluntarily in a casual chat format. Finally, the group closes with a respect circle and ends the class. The young men really enjoy the classes and report positive “vibes” from the class.

The youth at Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, put on their shirts and ties to participate in the annual Duval County EDDY Award.

The EDDY’s is an awards ceremony that recognizes teachers from Duval County that go above and beyond to impact students. The youth from Jacksonville acted as host, escorts and runners during the event.

Pictured above with JYA youth (from left to right): City Council President Anna Brosche, Founder/CEO Krumpin 4 Success Shana Carter, District 9 Councilman Garrett Dennis, Young Democrat Executive Board member Kris Estanga, Dean of Students for SWAG Business Academy school Darren Mason.

The Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by AMIKids has had several academic achievements in recent months. Last week, youth C.M. became the 4th GED recipient since January and the 12th this fiscal year. He's currently working on job applications and prepping for interviews. The program has supplied him with resumes, business cards and interview clothes and he says that the skills he learned while at the facility have made him ready to step into the next phase of his life.

Youth J.C. has made straight A's in every class during the last 9 week grading period! The local Panda Express rewards all the straight A students with a meal of their choice and youth J.C. said that the pride he felt when he received the medal and Panda Express meal has given him the incentive to continue to excel in his classes and in life.

Youth W.J. came to Melbourne Center for personal Growth in 2017. When he arrived he already had an NCCER Core Certification (Intro to Construction) that he obtained from another program. During the 5 months he was in Melbourne, he received his high school diploma and certifications for EKG Technician, Certified Administrative Medical Assistant, CPR/AED/First Aid and his Safe Staff food handlers. Youth W.J. left the program Jan 22nd and by February 5th was hired by Lowe's Building. His supervisor thinks he is an awesome worker and an asset to their team.

Also happening at Melbourne, a few students recently attended the Eastern Florida State College Town Hall meeting. Students, staff, and professors came together to discuss problems and possible solutions that students face while attending college. It was an opportunity for AMIKids youth to hear about some of the roadblocks they might face while attending college.

Four youth from Orange Youth Academy and Orlando Intensive Academy, both non-secure programs for boys, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the opportunity to travel to the Festival Bay movie theater to watch Black Panther. The youth were able to attend the movie for exhibiting positive behavior while being at the programs. These positives included good behavior on and off the dorm, during school and maintaining passing grades.

The residents of Miami Youth Academy joined in national celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and his invaluable literary contribution to literature and children. Green eggs and ham? All youth and guests were treated to a colorful and delicious serving by MYA dietary staff. Joining the festivities, were Miami Dade County Schools and the MYA staff. The DJJ MQI peer reviewers were focused on their assigned tasks but Lead Reviewer Shakela Minns was able to observe the youth reading in tribute to Dr. Seuss and the toast to a rhyme wizard. 

Probation Staff and Youth Enjoy a Hockey Game and Staff Attend a Parent and Youth Seminar

JPO Benjamin Rich and SJPO Janet Maconi from the Circuit 1, Unit 103 Probation Office treated youth residing at the Cabot Heights group home to a night of hockey. Youth attended the match between the Pensacola Ice Flyers and the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. Many of the youth had the opportunity to experience hockey for the first time. Both the youth and probation staff enjoyed this occasion to bond outside of the typical JPO/youth role. A fun time was had by all thanks to the generous donation by Bloomer, Geri & Company Accounting Firm.

The “It’s a Serious Matter” parent and youth seminar was recently held in Tallahassee at the Walker Ford Community Center. Topics such as healthy relationships, bullying and teen parenting were covered. Along with parents, over 40 middle and high school age youth were present. Free pizza was provided by Gaines Street Pies.  Representatives from Circuit 2 including DJJ Reform Specialist Michael Byrd were in attendance as well as representatives from the Tallahassee Police Department, Griffin Middle School and Going Places Street Outreach Program. 

The Pinellas County Community Re-entry Team held a very special meeting for 2 young men who will soon be getting out of their program.  Eckerd Challenge staff graciously transported 2 boys to attend the CRT in person. In addition, the boys guardians also attended the meeting in person.  This made for a very impactful CRT.  Both boys were provided a "Welcome Home" toiletry bag donated by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Local Law Enforcement Lend a Helping Hand at Detention Facility

A special thank you to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office who recently assisted the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) with transportation of youth to court. The Leon RJDC had several youths needing to be transported to court, which would have required four staff members and two vans to conduct the transport. While detention supervisors were out of the building attending mandatory supervisory trainings and staff members were on annual leave due to spring break, Chief Linda Butler of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office stepped in and assisted in transporting the youth to and from court. Chief Butler didn’t hesitate and her response was immediate, swift, pleasant, and very much appreciated. We are thankful and proud of the relationship we have with our law enforcement partner and look forward to our continued partnership.