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

Secretary's Message

June 5, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter


With the official start of the 2018 Hurricane Season beginning last Friday, our agency staff, facilities, and programs have been making preparations should a hurricane strike. Preparation is key to dealing with any emergency and it is important for everyone to be ready at both work and at home.  The www.FloridaDisaster.org website is an excellent source to assist anyone in preparing a personal disaster plan.

It is also not too late to take advantage of the Disaster Preparedness 2018 Sales Tax Holiday, which runs until June 7th. During the sales tax holiday, Floridians will not pay sales tax on flashlights, batteries, generators and other critical supplies needed to stay prepared during a disaster. To see a list of disaster preparedness items that are tax free, click here.


Christina K. Daly

FCCD Quarterly Board Meeting

Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht and Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims attended the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency’s (FCCD) quarterly board meeting in Tampa on May 18-19. Chief of Staff Schuknecht and Assistant Secretary Sims both serve as committee members on FCCD’s state board, which meets quarterly to receive updates and community projects from the more than thirty local chapters across the state. For more information on FCCD, please visit their website.

Prevention Staff Recognize Mental Health Awareness Month

The DJJ Office of Prevention and Victim Services Headquarters staff wore green on May 10 to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to bring awareness to the need for screening and treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines a serious mental illness as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that limits one of more major life activities. The NIH also reports there were about 45 million adults living with a mental illness in 2016, and of those, almost 10.5 million were serious mental illnesses.

Pictured above (from left to right): Yvonne Woodard, Melba Floyd, Racquel Piper, Gloria Gatlin, Cheryl Robinson, Cheryl Howard, Trevor Gilmore, Alice Sims, Brent Musgrove, Shanteria Randall, and Travis Ligon

The PACE Center for Girls of Hillsborough County held their annual PACEWorks Career Day on May 9 at their facility in Tampa. The Career Day program was developed to provide the young ladies of PACE an opportunity to engage with community partners and increase their awareness and preparation for career opportunities. Throughout the half-day event, the young ladies participated in workshops and panel discussions and visited employer-sponsored tables.

The workshops included opportunities to learn about successful interviewing, preparing resumes that stand out and presenting a positive image to potential employers.

During the panel discussions students asked questions and received feedback regarding the importance of mentoring, finding their own career paths and simply being well-rounded people.  The students were especially intrigued as panelists shared their individual experiences about how they learned to use each of their setbacks as stepping stones to their success.

The event included the following community partners:  Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Nielsen, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa Police Department, TD Bank, Tech Data, USAA, and Williams Automotive. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Reba Chavis hosted a DJJ resource table at the South Okaloosa Provider Fair. The fair, which was held at the Striving for Perfection Ministries in Fort Walton Beach, was an opportunity for participants to get up-to-date information from providers in the community.

The event was hosted by the Okaloosa County Family Law Advisory Committee, which is the umbrella organization for all components of the Unified Family Court (dependency, delinquency, dissolution/parenting, domestic violence injunctions, and truancy). Providers who participated were from the following areas: provider benefits, social services, healthcare, education, child welfare, delinquency, legal services, housing and employment resources for our community.

Pictured above: Reba Chavis (left) and Carmen Lundy

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Executive Assistant Debbie Touchton and I attended the PACE Center for Girls Believing in Girls Luncheon on May 22 at the Florida State University Alumni Center in Tallahassee. There were two wonderful testimonies from a current PACE girl and a former PACE student that brought tears to the eyes of attendees, with their amazing journeys and success stories. The two girls attributed their success to the gender responsive services offered by PACE, and staff that truly impacted their lives. The DJJ members also enjoyed beautiful music during the luncheon from the PACE Drummers.

Pictured above (from left to right): Debbie Touchton, Alice Sims and myself

Probation Staff Work to Raise Awareness to Combat Human Trafficking in Florida

Probation staff from Circuit 7 recently attended a viewing of the film, “Trapped in Trade” at the Trinity United Methodist Church in DeLand. This film speaks of human trafficking from the survivors’ point of view, showing the harsh realities that many of our young survivors are faced with in going forward in their lives. Filmed in a high school setting, it created an ongoing dialogue among the audience, which included teens, parents, teachers and service professionals. The film was written and directed by Jan Edwards of the Paving the Way Foundation, and the viewing was sponsored by HOPE (Helpers of People Enslaved) at Trinity.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation given by a survivor, Lindsey Ruth, who shared her story of being a victim and her triumph of survival. The evening was filled with insight, education, awareness and hope. The audience was given such inspiration and drive to continue this worthy cause and to do more. We thank the HOPE Team for such an inspiring and educational evening.

Circuit 11 probation staff held their annual Mother’s Day Tea at the Project Gold Drop-In Center in Miami. The tea honored those teen mothers involved with DJJ who have made excellent strides towards enhancing their parenting and personal skills. Each of these young moms were rewarded with gift baskets as an extra treat for their efforts. I would like to extend a special thank you to Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Lana Wilcox and the Young Parents Project for making this year’s tea a success. 

Probationary youth K.A. from the Project Connect transition program was honored during a commencement ceremony for graduates from the Judy Andrews Second Chance School at the Pensacola High School Auditorium. K.A. has received services from Project Connect since February and has worked with his Life Coach David Alexander to set up both short and long-term goals as well as pro-social community involvement. K.A.'s plans include gaining summer employment and enrolling in college in the fall to pursue mechanical engineering.  KA’s Juvenile Probation Officer Dallas Rich has worked closely with him as he completed all his probationary sanctions.

AMIkids recently hosted their annual Summer Challenge Event at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC. These annual events bring AMIkids programs together from across the nine states they operate in order to develop comradery and teamwork among the youth they serve.

This year’s Summer Challenge Event featured 17 AMIkids programs, with more than a dozen from across Florida. The three-day event includes a variety of challenges for the youth, such as creative writing, science fair projects, track events, first aid practicums, academic quiz bowl, tug-o-war, spelling bee, volleyball competition, speech contest and even nautical knot tying known as Marlinspike (a nod to AMIkids’ historical beginnings as a marine-based rehabilitation program).

Additionally, our wonderful partners at Canteen Vending hosted the bi-annual AMIkids Stir Fry Challenge! The coliseum was filled with savory smells as our youth showcased their culinary talents! Congratulations to the team from the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth for being chosen as the winning team!

DJJ girls from AMIkids Panama City were invited by Gulf Coast State College’s ENACTUS team to be their guest during the National Convention in Kansas City. Gulf Coast College competed against 66 other schools after winning their regional competition. AMIkids Panama City students were part of their pilot program for an entrepreneurship curriculum for high school students. The girls got to experience college life as they attended the competition and job fair alongside of the college students. They also toured the city which included Union Station, the WWI museum and Victory Tower, and the planetarium. Professor Hernandez extended an invitation to the girls to join the team next year once they are enrolled as dual enrollment students at Gulf Coast State College.

Five DJJ youth from AMIkids in Tampa recently traveled to the University of Central Florida to tour the campus and experience real college life. The students were joined on this trip by their teacher and career coordinator. The students learned different topics such as: financial aid, academics, enrollment, housing and scholarships.

In addition, AMIkids Tampa brought ten of their students to the Bertram Boat Company on May 24 to learn about various careers in the boat making industry. The students and staff learned about the process of making a 60ft boat. Also, the students learned the duties of different departments such as: engineering, construction, electricity and marketing. The tour was given by the CEO of Bertram, Peter Truslow.

Youth face many challenges when making the transition from residential commitment back into their homes and communities.  Basic clothing, toiletries and other essentials are often difficult for families to work into their budgets in many of these situations.  In Circuit 5, Project Connect Transition Specialist Erin Miller was conducting routine service contact with the mother of a youth on her case load, Youth J.B.  As she was speaking with J.B.’s mother about how the transition was going, J.B.’s mother expressed great joy in recently being re-united with her son but was sad because she did not have a bed for him to sleep on and could not afford one.  Only moments before this conversation, Mrs. Miller was pondering the fate of a bed she had in her own home and had replaced.  As fate would have it, this was a need she could easily fill.  Mrs. Miller quickly and excitedly spoke up and stated that she’d be glad to donate her bed to the family.  That day she took the bed over to Youth J.B.’s home while he was at school and she and Youth JB’s mother set it up before J.B. could get home from school.  When Youth J.B. came home from school he was ecstatic and very thankful that he now had a bed of his own at home.

Circuit 7 Reform Specialist and Human Trafficking Liaison Zemetria Anderson partnered with local stakeholders to collect and donated personal hygiene items and backpacks for human trafficking survivors in support of Children’s Home Society’s “Backpacks for Hope” Project. Ms. Anderson collected items from probation staff and detention staff members as well as our stakeholders with BAYS Florida. In total, over $200 worth of items were given during this joint effort to show support and care for these victims. Circuit 7 remains committed to increasing awareness and taking steps to effect change in the lives of human trafficking victims in our community.

Pictured above: Major Paul Finn with the Volusia Regional Detention Center (left) and Circuit 7 Reform Specialist, Zemetria Anderson.

Probation staff from Circuit 16 attended Key West High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) meeting on May 23. The meeting produced some amazing dialogue as the club sponsor and several members shared with our staff how to effectively serve this population of youth. Probation staff offered resources to the GSA sponsor and for those youth who need services. The Alliance mentioned that some youth are forced into homelessness once their parents find out about their lifestyle.

Detention Facility Completes New Mural

The Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center acquired the services of local artist Niki Lopez to develop a mural for the main hallway wall inside the facility. Lopez enlisted the help of the youth at Broward to plan, design and paint the inspirational mural. The process began with brainstorming ideas and sketching out plans before they were voted on by the youth. Once the design was formed, they began putting up outlines, choosing colors and priming the walls.

After the art work was completed, the youth took great pride in their work and came to appreciate the level of hard work and commitment needed to improving their surroundings.

Members of the Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Board provided breakfast for the staff members at the facility on May 26. The board members hosted the breakfast to show their appreciation for the hard work and dedication the staff at Manatee RJDC show for the youth in our care.

Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Hosts Work Papers Workshop

The Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) held their annual Work Papers Workshop in Tallahassee May 21-25. This workshop is a five-day meeting in which the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement's bureau chief, regional monitoring supervisors, deputy regional monitoring supervisors, and prioritization and planning team meet to review final changes to the Department's Monitoring Standards and ensure all monitoring tools, checklists, forms, and interviews match requirements for the upcoming fiscal year. During the workshop, the MQI team utilized the updated technical enhancements recently installed in the training center, including the InFocus Mondopad Smart Board and high speed WiFi Internet connections. The MQI Team works hard each year to create a balanced approach to our monitoring practices in an effort to ensure thorough annual compliance reviews, supplemental reviews, verification reviews, and escalated monitoring reviews, while at the same time having a minimally invasive footprint when on-site at our contracted and state-operated programs.

The mission statement of the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement is to promote continuous improvement and accountability in Florida's juvenile justice programs and this mission is achieved each year, due in part due to this collaborative and in-depth workshop.

Residential Youth Participate in Drum Circle and Field Day Festivities

This year, Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, operated by Sequel, implemented monthly drum circle sessions with their community partner, Livin’ the Rhythm. They have embraced the therapeutic practice of using various drums and instruments to engage the youth in healthy forms of expression and movement. During these sessions, the boys also learn about the role music plays in West African tradition and culture. This program allows the youth the opportunity to explore different forms of music and entertainment while interacting with their peers in a pro-social activity. All sessions take place in the "Youth Concept Gallery" and help provide insight into another form of art that the youth had never been exposed to.  The boys have a great time collaborating through music and dance and we look forward to seeing the growth of this project. 

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, non-secure programs for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, strives to catch the youth doing the right thing and have a process of “Do-Rights” in which youth are acknowledged for their good deeds. A recent pizza party was held to acknowledge youth who had the most “Do – Rights” for their respective dorms. The youth who participated have shown great dedication to doing the right thing and being a positive role model for the other youth in the facility. 

Hastings and Gulf Youth Academy also took seven youth who have shown positive progress in their treatment to enjoy some Mexican food at Tijuana Flats in St. Augustine. The youth dined on burritos, rice bowls, chimichangas, and chips with queso. They topped off their meal with some dessert churros and cookie dough flautas.

The Hastings and Gulf Youth Academy programs also recently hosted a field day event. The youth competed in relay races, tug of war, slap disk, jump rope, and a 3-point competition. They also participated in a volleyball game with the staff. After enduring the hot Florida sun, the field day ended with snow cones and popcorn. It was a fun field day!

Earlier this month, Jacksonville chiropractor, attorney, and TAILS program sponsor “Doc Tony came out to speak to the youth at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by Sequel. He spoke to the youth about being able to do whatever they want to do if they are willing to work hard. He also showed the youth workouts that they can do without exercise equipment. Doc Tony also took time to speak to the youth in the TAILS Program, informing them how their training will have a lasting impact on the animals that they train.

At the beginning of May, all the youth from Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, showed support towards stamping out hunger. On May 14th, the youth again partnered with Farm Share Homestead to package thousands of donated items from the letter carriers’ collections.

The Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive is the outgrowth of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ tradition of community service, a tradition exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carriers’ union over the years.

A national, coordinated effort by the NALC to help fight hunger in America grew out of discussions in 1991 by many leaders at the time, including NALC President Vincent R. Sombrotto, AFL-CIO Community Services Director Joseph Velasquez and Postmaster General Anthony Frank. A pilot drive was held in 10 cities in October of 1991, and it proved so successful that work began immediately on making it a nationwide effort.

From Alaska to Florida, from Maine to Hawaii, letter carriers did double duty on Food Drive Day—delivering mail and picking up donations. The Food Drive just grew and grew from that point.

Several youth at the Okeechobee Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, recently repaired a truck in the auto-body shop run by the Washington County School District. Youth who are eligible to participate in the project have to pass risk assessments in order to work with the tools and must demonstrate positive behavior both in school and throughout the program. While working in the shop incentivizes healthy, positive behavior within the program, the skills the youth learn are instrumental, with obvious transferability to their lives back home.