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Secretary's Message

May 22, 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. 

Sincerely,  

Christina K. Daly


Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Major Steve Owens from the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently recognized by the Miami-Dade School Police Department for his assistance during Hurricane Irma. Major Owens was instrumental in assisting with the negotiations of contracts and for providing ample space for school police officers to train.


The Office of Detention Services in the South Region came together for a luncheon on May 8 to acknowledge their four Employees of the Quarter for each quarter of 2017. Congratulations to Charavia Davis (Broward RJDC), Julie Reserve (St. Lucie RJDC), Arrington Copeland (Palm Beach RJDC), and Sonya Diggs (Miami-Dade RJDC) who were all named employees of the quarter last year and were honored by South Regional Director Kevin Housel and their own facility administrators. These four staff members were chosen from the South Region’s Employee of the Month selections from the previous year for their willingness to support their team during hurricane relief, assisting other facilities during quality improvement reviews and bringing a positive spirit to the workplace.


Congratulations to Purchasing Specialist Christian Wigglesworth (Purchasing and Leasing), Management Review Specialist Bob O’Lary (Support Services) and Construction Projects Consultant John Bridgeman (Facility Services) for being recognized as Employees of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2018 by the Bureau of General Services. Each quarter, the Bureau recognizes three employees from each of these areas and we thank them for their hard work and dedication to the agency.



Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor Reginald Lovely from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was honored with the Assistant Secretary’s Award for Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2018. Lovely accepted the award from Duval Superintendent Mark Refour.
















Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer II Felisia Paul from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named the facility’s Employee of the Month for the month of April. Officer Paul comes to work every day with a friendly and courteous attitude and ready to give 110% to Orange Detention.



Congratulations to Juvenile Probation Officer Ryan Bullard from Circuit 1 who received his master’s degree in Social Work, with a concentration in youth and family mental health, from Rutgers University. Officer Bullard walked with his graduating class on May 14 in Piscataway, New Jersey. On receiving his master’s Officer Bullard said, “I love working with juveniles and this will help me work with and research evidenced-based programs and therapeutic services for our youth.”

Congratulations to Officer Bullard on his accomplishment!





Congratulations to Food Service Worker Karen Clay from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently named the Regional Support Services Employee of the Month for the Central Region. Clay’s hard work every day is greatly appreciated. Clay was presented with a certificate and a gift card by Captain Louise Quick.








DJJ Staff Members Complete LGBTQ Training, Become CJJR Fellows

I am proud to announce that Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center Superintendent Dennis Driscoll, Statewide Classification and Commitment Coordinator Matthew Fitzgerald, Bethany Gilot (Human Trafficking Director - DCF), Human Trafficking Director Katherine Gomez, Director of Youth and Family Advocacy Elizabeth Phillips, John Robertson (Program Services Director - Florida Network of Youth and Family Services) and Statewide PREA Coordinator Jeff Wenhold recently completed the Supporting the Well-Being of System-Involved LGBTQ Youth Certificate Program and have been selected as new members of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) Fellows Network.

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

The Florida team’s Capstone Project, titled “Enhancing SOGIE Competence in Florida’s Delinquency and Dependency System”, seeks to increase sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) competencies for staff and youth and to create an environment inclusive of all youth throughout the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services (FN). “We are excited for the potential of the team’s Capstone Project to strengthen SOGIE competency and create congruent universal policies across the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children and Families, and the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services to better identify and support the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth,” said Shay Bilchik, Director of CJJR. “Most significantly, these efforts will help to improve the life outcomes of these youth.” 

Part of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, CJJR advances a balanced, multi-systems approach to reducing juvenile delinquency that promotes positive child and youth development while also holding youth accountable.  The Center works to focus the nation's juvenile justice and related systems of care on the key principles embodied in an evidence-based juvenile justice reform agenda and identify and highlight the research on policies and practices that work best to reduce delinquency and achieve better outcomes for children.

For more information on CJJR Fellows Network, visit http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/certificate-programs/fellows-network/


Prevention Staff Attend FCCD Women and Girls Gala

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Chief of Policy and Programs Marcus Smith, Budget Administrator Brent Musgrove and Probation Training Coordinator Stephanie McKinzie volunteered during the 8th annual Celebration of Women and Girls Gala on April 27 at The Moon nightclub in Tallahassee. The event was sponsored by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency and the proceeds raised at the Gala were to benefit the Oasis Center and the PACE Center for Girls.

The event showcased the many creative and talented women and girls through a night of performances.  It was also a fundraising opportunity for both the Oasis Center and PACE Center for Girls.  Both organizations are dedicated to improving and celebrating the lives of women and girls in Tallahassee and the event was an extension of the great work they do. The department is honored to collaborate and partner with two amazing gender-responsive organizations that serve women and girls!

Pictured above: Probation Training Coordinator Stephanie McKinzie (left) and Assistant Secretary for Probation Alice Sims. 


According to a recent study conducted by Gallup, only 52% of Americans trust law enforcement – the lowest it has been since 1993.

In order to improve those statistics, PACE Center for Girls, Alachua, partnered with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to host a Police & Youth Forum.  The day began by placing students in one room and law enforcement in another.

Each group created a list of adjectives to describe the other group.  Both parties were then brought together to participate in an activity that revealed their shared firsthand experiences.

Then came the difficult part: revealing the list of stigmas and stereotypes.  After a tense conversation, a representative stood next to the list that was created and asked the question, “Am I all of these things?” 

With the ice broken and the “Ah ha” moment had, it was time for role playing. Officers portrayed civilians, and students portrayed law enforcement during a routine traffic stop.  The event ended with a lot of laughs and a lot of love.






Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy conducted a site visit to the Afterschool Assistance Program (ASAP) in Panama City on May 9.  The youth at ASAP were working on a Mother’s Day craft project when Carmen stopped by where they turned mason jars into candle holders for their mothers.  The students decorated the jars and then placed a battery-operated flickering candle into the jar and added a name tag.  

The ASAP is a 21st Century Community Learning Center program of the City of Panama City that provides learning opportunities to 65 youth, ages 6-16, who are at-risk of educational challenges and who have a need for a safe haven in the community in which they live. ASAP helps with in-school studies, mentoring and counseling, computer and job training skills, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Adopt-A-Grandparent, as well as educational field trips, arts & crafts, group sports and more all year round. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy conducted a site visit to the Afterschool Assistance Program (ASAP) in Panama City on May 9.  The youth at ASAP were working on a Mother’s Day craft project when Carmen stopped by where they turned mason jars into candle holders for their mothers.  The students decorated the jars and then placed a battery-operated flickering candle into the jar and added a name tag.  

The ASAP is a 21st Century Community Learning Center program of the City of Panama City that provides learning opportunities to 65 youth, ages 6-16, who are at-risk of educational challenges and who have a need for a safe haven in the community in which they live. ASAP helps with in-school studies, mentoring and counseling, computer and job training skills, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Adopt-A-Grandparent, as well as educational field trips, arts & crafts, group sports and more all year round. 


Detention Facility Holds Cook Out for Level Three Youth

Detention Officer Marcos Perdomo from the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center organized a cookout at the facility for all of the level three youth. The kids met in the large recreation yard and listened to music while Perdomo grilled burgers and hot dogs. Each youth received a hot dog, hamburger, chips and a soda.


The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a surprise baby shower for Juvenile Detention Officer and new proud father Luis Hernandez-Garcia. Officer Hernandez-Garcia welcomed his first-born daughter Luna into the world on March 30 who weighed in at six pounds eleven ounces. The new father spent some time at home with his daughter before returning to work and this surprise party. Congratulations to the new family!







The Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted a breakfast for the facility’s executive management. The breakfast was a big thank you from Superintendent Mark Refour for all of the hard work his staff members do to keep our youth safe.

Pictured above (from left to right): Sandra Northcutt, Charles Furneaux and Delmonica Harris






The Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center has its first resident in its newly constructed butterfly garden. The youth have really enjoyed coming out to the garden to seed, clean up and enjoy the sun. Throughout the process they have learned the different stages of metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly. 



The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed renowned motivational speaker Victor Woods to their facility to speak with the youth. Woods was a high school dropout and as a teenager was the mastermind behind a $40 million-dollar credit card conspiracy. He was arrested by the Secret Service and served time in federal and state prisons before eventually turning his life around and graduating from Northwestern University. Woods is now a national speaker and author of the bestselling book “A Breed Apart.”





Major Adrian Mathena and Acting Captain Reginald Allen from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team for a tour of the facility on May 17. The visit gave SWAT officers a chance to learn more about juvenile detention and spend quality time building up community relationships.




The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center thanked their employees and stakeholders who also hold the title of mother. All were provided with a Mother’s Day card and pen, which exemplifies their continued support for the facility and the Department.

Leon RJDC is appreciative of all those that are or serve the role of mother.









Bureau of Human Resources Raises Awareness for Lupus

Staff members from the Bureau of Human Resources celebrated May as Lupus Awareness Month on May 10 with a walk around the Koger Center at DJJ Headquarters dressed in purple to raise awareness for the disease. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body and is one of the world’s cruelest and most unpredictable diseases.



Front row:  Sylvia Baker, Selena Boles, Faydra Bradley and David Robinson

Second row:  Khalifi McGee, Brittney Holmes, Stephanie Holmes, Keyria Collins, Lorna Jackson, SaTora Gomilla and Trinessia Avant

Third row:  Aldrin Sanders, Kenny Holmes, Keisha Kyler, Dodie Garye, Harding Jones, Dexter Bradham, Lyn Avery and Adrian Woody


Probation Staff Raise Awareness for Mental Health and to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

I’m pleased to share the following youth success story from the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge program in Miami:

Since meeting with youth Lionis Moreira back in March, he’s made it a point to beat the odds against him. Always having such a positive attitude, Lionis was determined to not only gain full-time employment, but also enrolled into college (MDC Summer 2018). Lionis has maintained focus and self-discipline throughout his participation with Eckerd Connects Project Bridge in Miami. Because of his positive attitude, we are confident that Lionis will continue to surpass any obstacles that may come his way!

Way to go Lionis!





Probation staff from Circuit 14 participated in the Bay County Suicide Prevention Awareness Response and Education Coalition’s (SPARE) walk around Peace Pond on May 11 to raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness month. The walk was sponsored by the Life Management Center of Northwest Florida, and hosted many local community providers and child welfare agencies. DJJ’s probation staff participated to promote mental health awareness and the need for treatment for the local youth in the community.

Pictured above (from left to right): Kevin McKenzie, Juvenile Probation Officer and SPARE President; James Blanchet, Senior Juvenile Probation Officer; Mary Zahasky, Juvenile Probation Officer; Brian Rybicki, Juvenile Probation Officer; Heather Nowell, Reform Specialist; Danny Rutherford, Juvenile Probation Officer; Melissa Evans, Juvenile Probation Officer; and Julia Robertson, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor.



Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery from Circuit 10 volunteered during the annual Teen Summit in Polk County on May 12. The event was sponsored by the Healthy Start Coalition’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Alliance. The summit brought together Polk County teens ages 10-19 to learn about topics related to issues they face every day such as how to avoid teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, bullying, and teen dating violence just to name a few. The teens also engaged in some fun by participating in Zumba and learning how to step from one of the local high school step teams. 




I’m pleased to share this letter of gratitude that was sent from youth SS to her Juvenile Probation Officer Karen Medina in Circuit 12. SS made contact with the Department as an angry young lady with an attitude, but with Officer Medina’s help has made a complete turnaround in her life. It reads:

Hey it’s me😋 Just wanted to thank you for being so kind and patient with me, I could see how a lot of people would forget to thank you in your line of work. You honestly could’ve kept a hammer to my head but instead left it in my hands with tryst & I appreciate that. I think it made things a lot easier on both ends. Thank you for your due diligence as well😇 you’re not someone just trying to put youth away and your open minded and chance giving. We need more PO’s like you for sure! I hope all is well in your personal life, & I don’t know if it means anything to you but I’ll be praying for you and your family. I know I’m not quite “off” yet, hence why I’m still bugging you with my emails ;). I really really hope that things start/keep moving up from here. 4 months ago I was in a low place with some low people in a very low mindset, I like to think of it as a mini rock bottom.. lol. With all rock bottoms big or small sometimes we hit a couple in our lifetime. The only advice that couldn’t be truer is “it only goes up from here”. It hasn’t been terrible getting to see you and speak with you, you’re quite an enjoyable person to be honest with ya. 😭😁 anyway, like I said, hope all is well I look forward to the call saying it’s all over 😂 have a good one!


Residential Youth Work With Local Habitat for Humanity, Celebrate Graduation 

The HBI students from Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, are busy volunteering on Habitat for Humanity’s 60th home in the Crestview area. The students helped frame, hang vinyl soffit, and painted the home. Now the HBI students are building 450 linear feet of privacy fencing for home number 60.

Habitat has plans for 20 more homes this year which gives Okaloosa Youth Academy’s HBI students plenty of on the job training to help place them in the industry. The partnership between HBI, Gulf Coast Treatment Center, and Habitat has been blooming this year.


Okaloosa Youth Academy was proud to throw a graduation ceremony in honor of a young man who successfully completed his high school education while in the program! His hard work and commitment to making life changes will continue to follow him and help him to achieve many more great accomplishments.









Cypress Creek, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had a Staff Appreciation Day for everyone’s hard work throughout the year and dedication to the QI process on April 26, 2018.  Staff enjoyed a meal with many delicious options, then certificates were given to each staff member.  Everyone had a really good time.





On May 5th, 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, celebrated Nurses Appreciation Day by showing love to the nurses at the facility. There was an assortment of muffins, coffee cakes, and juice. The nurses had plenty of food to help get them through their day. The nurses do a great job assessing our youth and helping with their needs. We give a great big thank you to the nursing staff for a job well done!


Hastings and Gulf Academy took eight youth to Buffalo Wild Wings for good food and live sports. The youth dined on wings, hamburgers, French fries, and other delights. The youth were rewarded for their progress in treatment and consistency in displaying hard work and dedication to complete their goals.







Youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, spent the day at Sawgrass during the Players Championship golf event. Youth had the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s best golfers, while learning how to swing a golf club and enjoying tons of other vendors.






Jacksonville Youth Academy partnered up with the Junior Achievers entrepreneurs program to help teach the youth the basics of entrepreneurship. With the help of Mrs. Shawna Carter from Krumpin For Success, the youth have created their very own business named “Logical Luxuries”, a designer ring company for men. The youth created their business plan, marketing strategy, company website and 3D templates to present at a local Junior Achievers entrepreneurs competition held at TPC Sawgrass. Special Thanks to Fed Ex, Junior Achievement and Krumpin for Success.




Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, has partnered with Heritage High School in Palm Bay on a Brevard Cultural Alliance project called Art Beyond Boundaries. Six raised bed gardens are being built in the first phase and in the fall the mosaic pathways will go in. The youth are paired with students with disabilities at Heritage High School. After introductions the first day they're now all on a first name basis and glad to see each other twice weekly to work on the garden project with instructors Mikael Maynard and Joshua Anderson. The project has become a great experience for our boys, they have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a population they may not have thought twice about working with in their communities. They have a sense of accomplishment and understanding of others challenges while they work together to achieve a common goal.


The day started bright and early to unpack over 50 boxes of books that were going on sale at the Suntree Library Annual Book Sale. The youth assist area libraries about four times a year to prepare for annual sidewalk sales and have done so for the past six years as a way for the boys to give back to the community. The library also allows the boys to pick out books to increase the school library. The boys are able to read a variety of books during daily reading time, which we feel significantly contributes to the more than two grade level increase in reading the youth are averaging during their stay.





On May 8, 2018, Lake Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 19, Tampa Residential Facility, a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18 and Hillsborough Girls Academy, a secure program for girls, ages 13 to 21, all of which are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the pleasure of meeting students from Coventry University located in the UK. The students and instructors were greeted by the facility administrators of each program. The students could tour each facility and observe what the youth encounter while in the program, to include treatment, recreational, and educational services.

After the tour the students engaged in photos, snacks and drinks. The clinical director of Lake Academy, Shannon Crather, explained the therapeutic piece to the students in detail and opened the floor for any questions. The experience was a very fortunate one for the UK Students as well as the staff and youth of TrueCore Behavioral solutions.


Earlier this month, the residents of Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel, hosted some visitors from Broward Youth Treatment Center.  The purpose of the visit was for a friendly game of flag football.  All youth involved had an excellent time and did an excellent job of carrying themselves properly while displaying excellent sportsmanship the whole time.  The event was an enjoyable time for all youth and staff members from both facilities who could attend.  After the game all youth involved were treated to a special lunch as both teams got to eat with each other and share some time in fellowship.  While Palm Beach may have come out victorious on the field, all youth that day were winners.  This was an excellent example of two providers working together towards the best interest of the youth in our care. 



On May 11th, seven youth from Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, celebrated their success in the Positive Performance System, having made the April monthly incentive for Sunset AMC Theaters to see the movie “Avengers: Infinity Wars.” In collaboration with the Positive Performance System, the incentive was planned by the Youth Council. Youth enjoyed a snack pack during the movies, concluding with a tour of the Sunset Place Mall in South Miami.

Special thanks to Transitions Services Manager B. Ashley and Recreational Therapist A. Deverson for their tremendous efforts in causing this to be possible and successful.




























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