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Secretary's Message

April 10, 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

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor Ikea Smith from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named the Employee of the Quarter for the Central Region of Detention Services. Sergeant Smith demonstrates a positive attitude daily, shows strong leadership ability amongst staff and her peers, and maintains a calm professional demeanor while working under stressful circumstances.

Pictured above: Major Adrian Mathena, Sergeant Ikea Smith and Captain Louise Quick

Congratulations to Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell and Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin who were named the Office of Prevention and Victim Services Employees of the Year during the Prevention Training Retreat on March 29. Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims and Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann presented Gatlin and Boswell with a plaque to commemorate the honor. 

Marie’s plaque read: “In grateful appreciation and distinguished recognition for providing guidance, motivation, inspiration and leadership to our team. Thank you for leading with honor, commitment and integrity. You are greatly valued as an essential member of our team. You are a Difference Maker!”

Gloria’s plaque read: “In grateful appreciation and distinguished recognition for your hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. You have exhibited great ambition and determination to excel in all that you do. Thank you for the milestones you have achieved and the awesome accomplishments you earned. You are a Difference Maker!”

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer Sherrylyan Carswell from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named Employee of the Month for the North Region of Detention Services for the month of February.

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain William Bennis, Captain Andrea Akins, Officer Sherrylyan Carswell and Major Paul Finn

DJJ Headquarters Staff Take Part in 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run

Last week, DJJ headquarters staff took part in the 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run in Tallahassee. This is DJJ’s third year participating in this extraordinary event that helps to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Florida. Law enforcement officers and staff from over 300 Florida agencies participate in the state-wide torch run, and we were honored to participate again this year.

The race began at a local area Publix and concluded on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol. The run was followed by an event to honor Florida’s athletes with Special Olympics. DJJ participation in this event has grown each year, and I would like to congratulate and thank those employees who donated their time in running for this wonderful cause.

Probationary Youth Volunteer with Ronald McDonald House and Learn CPR

AMIkids Gainesville is living up to one of its pillars by making a difference in their local community by volunteering their time at the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville on the campus of Shands Children’s Hospital. The students and staff from AMI served cookies and brownies to the families who were staying at the house. Student Kayla from AMI said of the experience, “Being able to provide a small treat for the families here makes me feel good inside and I’m looking forward to doing this again.”

DJJ youth from the AMIkids facility in Orlando have been making great strides both inside and outside the classroom. 36 youth at AMI celebrated another month of gains in both Math and English as they completed their STAR testing. We congratulate them on their achievements as their hard work as finally paid off.

AMI Orlando students in Mr. Hopkins class are working towards becoming CPR and First Aid certified with the American Red Cross. Our youth have been working with a practice mannequin to learn how to give ventilations and compressions as well as performing first aid for people with injuries and sudden illness.

Finally, our youth have been working on a community service project with the Faith United Church of Orlando and in turned earned valuable community service hours in the process (seen below right). The youth along with their teacher Mr. Ervin helped to unload a food truck delivery for the homeless. 

Congratulations to DJJ youth Ryan Booth from the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge Program in Circuit 12 who recently celebrated graduating as a member of the class of 2018. “I knew I had to do this. I knew I wanted it so bad and I was determined not to let anything stop me,” Ryan told guests at his graduation.  His speech was also encouraging to other youth to push through toward their graduation just as he has done. Stay tuned as Ryan begins his next journey-college!

The Eckerd Project Bridge Program in Circuit 20 was one of three local non-profit organizations who were featured at the local Lucky’s Market in Naples for a period of three months. Lucky’s allowed those customers who brought in their own reusable bags to have the option of donating ten cents per bag to their favorite charity. At the end of the three-month period, Lucky’s matched the amount raised for each non-profit. Altogether, Lucky’s Market and their customers donated $692 dollars for Project Bridge and we thank them for their generosity in assisting our youth.

Director of Policy and Programming for the Office of Probation and Community Intervention Jeannie Becker-Powell teamed up with Director of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, Zack Gibson, to host a series of webinars regarding the memorandum of understanding between the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet and all child-serving agencies. The webinars were attended by over 160 individuals throughout the state. My thanks to Statewide Reform Coordinator Wanda Jackson, Special Projects Coordinator Ashley Webb and Gubernatorial Fellow Erica Wells for assisting during this event.

Probation staff from Circuit 2 took part in the Faith in Recovery Symposium and Panel at Tallahassee Community College. The purpose of this was to bridge the gap between the faith and recovering communities through implementing the Morehouse School of Medicine’s SATTC 1 Voice 1 Mission model statewide and to inspire, educate and empower community faith leaders to bridge mental health and recovery through faith.

Pictured above: SJPO Brittany Condry, SJPO Janyah Glenn, RS Michael Byrd,Intern Christopher Dykes, Intern Kayla Chenault and Dawn Tyus.

Chief Probation Officer David Cornuet, Assistant Chief Rico Cooper, Reform Specialist Michael Byrd from Circuit 2 probation, Kierstyn Cox from the Office of Detention Services and Captain Sherell Cummings from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center participated in the Tallahassee Community College Spring Job Fair. This job fair provided youth the opportunity to engage with qualified candidates seeking full-time and part-time employment.  The fair was open to all current students and alumni and attracts participants from all majors across the college.

Probationary youth Corey Johnson, under the supervision of Juvenile Probation Officer Rachel Kumbat, only had to pay off his court fees to complete his probation sanction. Johnson is enrolled at Godby High School in Tallahassee. His sister, Kwaneisha Keys, contacted DJJ to ask if she could secretly pay off all of his fees as a nice surprise to his family. She called the Circuit 2 probation office and paid over the phone and our office submitted the paper work to the judge. The probation termination was signed on March 29 and Kwaneisha surprised a very grateful and shocked Corey and his mother. This was a great example of the teamwork between DJJ and the family working together to keep this youth on the right track.

Pictured above (from left to right): JPO Rachel Kumbat, Corey Johnson and Kwaneisha Keys

Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson from Circuit 9, Juvenile Detention Officer Jessica Leonard and Lieutenant Elise Kasten hosted a DJJ information booth at the Valencia College East Spring Job Fair on March 29. Students were provided with an overview of DJJ, the role and job duties of a juvenile probation officer and juvenile detention officer, volunteer and internship opportunities, and had questions answered.

Detention Facilities Enjoy Easter Festivities  

The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted their first Easter egg hunt for the youth on Good Friday, March 30. The youth colored the eggs for the hunt with the help of Administrative Assistant Isay Gulley. The hunt took place on Friday morning and some of the eggs were real while the others were filled with surprises. After the hunt the youth were treated to a party with pizza, eggs and candy.

The Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted an Easter party and meal for the youth at the facility on Easter Sunday. The youth enjoyed a great meal and Sargent John Swartz (seen left) played the role of the Easter Bunny while giving out sweet treats to our youth.

Each month, Orange County Public Schools’ teachers and school administrators at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center attend a visitation night at the facility to bring food and information to the parents and family members visiting youth at the center.  The goal is to update families about the educational progress of their youth who are in the facility as well as providing information about reenrolling their youth back into school following their release from detention. This innovative practice is an above and beyond effort by the Orange County Public School system to assist youth and families through this difficult experience and assist with the transition between schools so that there is a seamless transition to minimize any disruption to the youth’s education.

Pictured above (from left to right): Transition Specialist Ms. Tiffany King and Teachers Ms. Inta Carrero, and Ms. Tausha Reddick

Level three girls from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center began their first VSAFL art class of the Spring semester last Tuesday. The girls studied Dot-Art where they learned basic facial shapes and created faces using Q-tips and ink stamp pads. Next week they will begin working on their own self-portraits.

Detention review specialists (DRS) met in Orlando last month for a statewide meeting where they took part in training and engaged in discussions pertaining to their current role as a DRS. This included review preparation, monitoring of PJO and committed youth, and recent alert updates. The DRS group welcomed guest presenters Kyla Hammond and Joe Luzzolino from the General Counsel’s Office who discussed Prolific Juvenile Offender (PJO) youth, Locked Out Child protocol and Youth Transfers, while Randy Agerton from Detention Services HQ provided an in-depth training on Tableau reports.

Pictured above (from left to right): Dennis McClure, Statewide Trainer; Janice Williams, Escambia; Yovana Bisumber, Miami-Dade; Jason Pimentel, Statewide Trainer; Katreeina Robinson, Broward; Natasha Noel, Collier/Southwest; Cheryl McCullough, Palm Beach; Yolanda Teamer, Okaloosa; Mignon Hill, Alachua; Candace Crowell, Pinellas; Erica Bien-Aime, Manatee; Deborah Caldwell, Hillsborough; Dorline Jordan, Bay; Micah Youmas, Leon; Paul Phelan, Duval; Erica Grant, St. Lucie; William Hopkins, Orange; Patrick Sullivan, Volusia; Derrick Cason, Brevard; Leon Madison, Marion; Paul Kulbok, Pasco; Paul Britten, Statewide Trainer.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers who graduated from the Broward College on April 6th.  Thanks to Kevin Housel, director for Detention Services, South Region, for being our guest speaker and Elle Fance, assistant superintendent for Miami-Dade RJDC, for presenting the Oath of Office. Kudos to Learning Consultant Denise Cannon for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility.

Top Row: J. Snow, T. Burrell, L. Brown, J. Joseph, A. Moreland, D. Brantley, G. Cineus, Denise Cannon, Learning Consultant

Back Row:  M. Bourdeau, R. Jeanbaptiste, I. Gallo, E. Joseph, S. Mauricette, E. Sanchez, E. McLeod

Office of Prevention Holds Annual Training Retreat

The DJJ Office of Prevention and Victim Services held its annual training retreat in Tallahassee March 27-29. I was happy to deliver the charge and opening remarks for this three-day training. Program updates delivered by Alice Sims, assistant secretary, Prevention & Victim Services; Dixie Fosler, assistant secretary, Detention Services; Paul Hatcher, assistant secretary, Probation & Community Intervention; Laura Moneyham, assistant secretary, Residential Services; Beth Davis, bureau chief, Contract Management; Jennifer Bailey, team supervisor, Monitoring and Quality Improvement; and Rachel Moscoso, director, Legislative Affairs.

DJJ Initiative updates were provided by Katherine Gomez, director, Human Trafficking; Elizabeth Phillips, director, Office of Youth and Family Advocacy; Mark Greenwald, bureau chief, Research and data; and Minnie Bishop, JDAI and DMC coordinator. Andy Hindman, Faith Community Network and Volunteer Services consultant, delivered a presentation on the Faith Initiative: Pathway to Restoring Hope.

Tom Blankenship, DJJ senior safety specialist, provided Active Shooter Training and spoke on workplace safety. Sonia Taylor, deputy director, Staff Development & Training led a workshop on Wellness and Teambuilding. William Halvosa, DMC coordinator with the Gainesville Police Department, spoke on Youth/Police dialogues.  The session concluded with a summary of the Prevention Procedure manual as well as awards and recognitions.

During the Prevention team retreat, our prevention staff members took a few hours out of their day to conduct a tour of the new PACE Center for Girls of Tallahassee facility and served ice cream to the students on March 28. While speaking with the girls before staff members served the ice cream, Alice Sims, assistant secretary, told the young ladies that the ice cream was a reward for their hard work, dedicated efforts and willingness to be success stories.

The community service activity allowed Prevention staff to not only serve the 50 girls but also visit with them at individual tables for small group conversation. Kelly Otte, PACE executive director gave words of thanks to Prevention team.

In a thank you note to Assistant Secretary Sims, Mary Marx, PACE president and CEO wrote: “What an amazing thing you and your team did…by serving ice cream to our girls at PACE Leon!  That was such a generous gesture and the girls were very inspired by your words to them.  Thank you so much for providing a face of DJJ that is so positive and for caring about them so much.  You and your team are so appreciated!”

Residential Youth Become Safe Serv Certified and Attend Step Show

Last month, Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, had a visit from Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Regional Director Lori Jernigan and Program Monitor Amy Daglish, who took time out of their busy schedules to tour the facility and talk with the youth.

Youth Z. B. completed all requirements needed to obtain his high school diploma! He also scored high enough on the test to earn college credits! This is a major accomplishment for youth Z. B. as he gets ready to exit the program. He has earned several certifications while at EBB. His SERV Safe, Microsoft and Carpentry certifications. During the graduation, we also honored twenty-six other students who received their SERV Safe certifications.

The youth from EBB had the opportunity to attend a youth step show. Our partners the Omega Lamp-lighters mentoring organization had its 3rd annual Gulf Coast Omega Dance Extravaganza event. Due to all the young men meeting performance and treatment goals for the month, the entire house participated in this exciting reward trip! The boys had a blast! One of the young men won a hundred-dollar scholarship sponsored by Omega Psi Phi, Beta Omicron Chapter of Pensacola, FL.

Alachua Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18 which is operated by Sequel, has started a new tradition to elevate the family unification when students graduate. Alachua Academy is sponsoring a “Meal on Us” project, each student that graduates from the program will receive a gift card to fellowship with their parent and/or legal guardian over a meal. This practice is an effort to support the family and student reunification process in appreciation of the student’s accomplishment and return to their home community. The young ladies displayed are the first two recipients.

Last month, Alachua Academy partnered with Home Builders Institute from Marion County to educate eight students on Safe Serve. The HBI instructor made the certification course interactive and students participated in the class by asking questions and giving feedback. Each student passed the test. Congratulations on your achievement!

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, tested the bowling skills of six young men at the Palatka Putnam Lanes. The youth had a great time trying their luck at getting strikes. A big shout out goes to staff member Isaiah Calloway for being a team player in preparing and coaching the youth (many of the youth had never bowled before). Mr. Calloway took time to show the youth technique, ball placement, and was also there to give words of encouragement. A good time was had by all.

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, tested the bowling skills of six young men at the Palatka Putnam Lanes. The youth had a great time trying their luck at getting strikes. A big shout out goes to staff member Isaiah Calloway for being a team player in preparing and coaching the youth (many of the youth had never bowled before). Mr. Calloway took time to show the youth technique, ball placement, and was also there to give words of encouragement. A good time was had by all.

Lake Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 19, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had their first general staff meeting with their new facility administrator, Ms. Alicia Woulard. Ms. Alicia Woulard comes to Lake Academy with a great amount of knowledge as a facility administrator. The staff are very grateful that she is there to help mold and guide them all as they move forward. Their morale committee does special events for the direct care staff for all the hard work they do every day for their youth!!

With the celebration of her arrival, the morale committee hosted by Mrs. Dawn Cave, administrative assistant; Ms. Kiana Lewis, LPN; and, Ms. Teshara Reese, director of case management, had a lovely spring brunch for the staff meeting. The Lake Academy team also recognized Ms. Shannon Crather, the new clinical director and Ms. Kaneehsa Vann who transitioned from a youth care worker to master control/transportation.

Youth from Orange Youth Academy and Orlando Intensive Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the opportunity to make subs for doing all positive in the program, which includes maintaining passing grades, appropriate behavior on and off the dorms, and showing great leadership skills.

The first quarter of 2018 has been a grand time for education and the youth at the Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a nonsecure program for males, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. Graduation ceremonies honored a total of five youth with full pomp and circumstance for their commitment to education and determination. Earning a high school diploma is traditionally one of the markers of the transition from childhood to adulthood and is a celebrated event for families and youth alike. For students adjudicated to juvenile justice programs, that rite of passage is often an elusive goal that escapes the grasp of youth. To witness five graduates in such a short period of time, attests to the determination of the youth and the coordination of the excellent program and educational staff at Miami Youth Academy. These graduates are a testament to the strong relationship between TrueCore and Miami-Dade County Public Schools – Office of Alternative Education (MDCPS).

Nine youth with three staff from Miami Youth Academy (MYA) participated in the monthly Exchange for Change led by Mrs. Kathie Klarreich, founder. This course applies sociological perspectives and concepts to the investigation of juvenile delinquency, while incorporating civic engagement and community-based learning through a series of written exchanges with students in a juvenile residential facility. Together they will examine the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency and the social policies developed to address such behavior, integrating the various social factors that shape juvenile delinquency and its control.