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Secretary's Message

July 31, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

As many of you know, I have submitted my resignation as Secretary, effective August 31, 2018. Sharing this news has been bittersweet, and I am so thankful and overwhelmed by those of you that have reached out to me offering your support and best wishes. Your heartfelt words mean more to me than I could ever properly express and it reminds me once again how fortunate I am to have so many compassionate and caring people in my life.

The entire 21 years of my career has been spent working and advocating for vulnerable and at-risk youth; but the time spent at DJJ has by far been the most rewarding, especially my time as Secretary. As you all know, working with vulnerable populations is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, professional jobs in all of government and one I have put my entire soul into WITHOUT hesitation. 

Together we have accomplished much and amassed many successes, which would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of each of you. But our work is not done, and I call on each of you to continue forward with our charge of serving youth in the right place, at the right time and in the right way. It is also critical that we continue to engage and collaborate with our partners in the community - our law enforcement, judicial and other community partners as well as our sister agencies and contracted providers.

I will forever be grateful to each of you for your hard work and dedication. My passion for vulnerable and at-risk children will never be lost, nor will my love for this agency and all of you. 


Christina K. Daly

Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

Believe it or not, it’s back to school time again! To help ensure that our students start the year off right, I encourage you to take advantage of the 2018 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday. This sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 3, 2018, and runs through Sunday, August 5, 2018. During this sales tax holiday period, qualifying items will be exempt from tax including: certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; and clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item.

For more information and a list of qualifying items, please visit the Department of Revenue’s website here or click on the QR code to the left to pull up a complete list of items right from your phone.

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Senior Juvenile Probation Officers Chris Bray, Lisa Cooper, Roberta Ellis and Stephanie Burns, and Juvenile Probation Officers Amanda Dery, Tiffany Reardon and Benny Vazquez from Circuit 5 who were named the circuit’s Employees of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2018. In addition, Juvenile Probation Officer Ericka Ortiz was honored with the Above and Beyond certificate. Each of these staff members continue to excel and exceed the standards met through their dedication to our youth and their families. Our staff continuously provide excellent service, mentorship, and professionalism to their local community.

Pictured above (from left to right): JPO Benny Vazquez, SJPO Chris Bray, CPO Randy Reynolds, SJPO Lisa Cooper, JPO Ericka Ortiz, SJPO Roberta Ellis, SJPO Stephanie Burns, JPO Amanda Dery.

Best wishes to Human Resources Liaison Linda Grimsley from the North Regional Probation Office who will retire on July 31 after fifteen years of dedicated service to the agency. Linda began her career with DJJ as an OPS staff assistant and moved all the way up to human resources liaison. Linda has been a valuable asset to the North Region team and will be greatly missed by the entire DJJ family. On behalf of all of us here at DJJ, I would like to wish Linda all the best in her retirement!  

Congratulations to Circuit 20 Senior Juvenile Probation Officer (SJPO) Byron Brown who was named the circuit’s Employee of the Month for the first quarter of 2018. SJPO Brown has been with the Department for twelve years and in addition to carrying a supervision case load, he assists new staff members with training and provides ongoing assistance to the circuit.

Congratulations to Circuit 20 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Sandra Burgado who was named the circuit’s Employee of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2018. JPOS Burgado has been with the agency in several capacities since 2005. Since becoming a supervisor in 2016, JPOS Burgado has been a key member of the Circuit 20 team, stepping up when Assistant Chief Probation Officer Lut Clarcq was on maternity leave. JPOS Burgado also assisted with hiring new team members at the Lee County Juvenile Assessment Center. JPOS Burgado is the definition of a team player.

Probationary Youth Meet With Local Law Enforcement to Break Barriers

AMIkids of Greater Fort Lauderdale recently hosted officers from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department as a part of their ongoing Breaking Barriers initiative. This initiative builds trust and understanding between police officers and our at-risk youth. Moving forward, these events will be held quarterly and the officers even expressed interest in helping train the AMIkids basketball team.

Congratulations to Circuit 7 SJPO Mark Brooks who recently competed in a series of mountain bike events throughout the Southeast! Sponsored by Gone Riding, SJPO Brooks placed first overall in the Southeastern Conference series and second in the Georgia State series for mountain biking. The Southeastern Conference Series hosts races all throughout the Southeast with events in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. SJPO Brooks has worked for the Department of Juvenile Justice for nearly 19 years. Way to go SJPO Brooks!

The Florida Association of Community Corrections recently held their annual training institute in Miami. This training institute brings together community corrections professionals from the Department of Corrections (DOC), county probation, DJJ, community stakeholders and providers.

This year’s attendees enjoyed a variety of training topics including medical marijuana, diversity and human trafficking. The attendees were also able to participate in a day long “Blue Courage” training provided by DOC. DJJ Central Region Director Cathy Lake, who serves on the association’s board, would also like to extend an invitation for all those interested in becoming a member of this exceptional organization. Membership is at no cost and you can join through their website. Membership provides regional trainings as well as the annual training institute.

Pictured above (from left to right): SMA II Sonny Peacock, CPO’s Randy Reynolds, Virginia Donovan and Allison Fulford

Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Shelley Turner and Juvenile Probation Officers Angenette Williams and Frank Mitchell from Circuit 13 recently took part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) summer picnic at P. Harvey Park in Tampa. All three of these officers have been mentors with BBBS for some time now and this picnic gave the mentors and their mentees some time to bond and enjoy themselves. The picnic offered food, games and arts and crafts.

Pictured above (from left to right): Angenette Williams, Shelley Turner and Frank Mitchell 

DJJ Staff and Circuit 2 CAB Host One Voice Youth Conference

The Circuit 2 Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board, in conjunction with the Offices of Prevention & Probation, came together to host the inaugural One Voice Youth Conference. The planning committee consisted of Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Michael Byrd, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashatt Omeally and Circuit 2 Faith Leader Pastor Ernie Sims. Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper provided encouraging words to the youth in attendance and probation staff from Circuit 2 volunteered to cover the event. 

Key components of the conference were empowering, educating, and inspiring youth.  Approximately 50 probation youth from Leon and Gadsden counties participated in the conference, along with representatives from Project Connect, DJJ prevention providers and local faith organizations. The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives hosted a forum with the youth, held a talent showcase and provided some giveaway items to the youth. Additionally, motivational speaker Kent Osborne (KO) shared his story from “Prison to Power”.

Pictured above (from left to right): Major Conrad McCray, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims and Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper

Central Communications Center (CCC) Liaison Jean Hall and Program Specialist Trevor Gilmore recently conducted CCC training to prevention programs across South Florida. The purpose of these training sessions were to explain the makeup and purpose of the Incident Operations Center. 

Contracted providers were trained on the Department’s CCC incident policies and procedures. Prevention staff provided an overview to the providers on the Office of Prevention and Victim Services, described the types of CCC incidents that are reported, as well as discussed the role each program plays in the CCC incident process. 

Prevention staff further described the various levels of reviews currently in place and how each program must implement the Department’s policies and procedures when working with CCC incidents. Jean and Trevor provided clarification on CCC rules and regulations for the programs and answered a number of questions.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashett Omeally recently conducted a program visit to the Unity Family Community Center in Willison. During her visit, Duke Energy presented a check to the United Family Community Center in the amount of $2,225 to pay for an educational trip to the Orlando Science Center. This donation covered transportation, admission fees and lunch for youth traveling to the Center. Unity Family Community Center’s goal was to help expand the youths’ knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Community Center’s director anticipates that this trip will increase the determination of their young students to embrace the importance of STEM and improve their attitudes towards STEM fields and careers.

Pictured above (from left to right):  Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashett Omeally, Executive Director Joyce Wilson, Chief Executive Officer Willie A. Battles, Government and Community Relations Manager Dorothy Peru (Duke Energy), Board Member Dr. Juanita Terrell, and Strategic Planning Manager Ernest Folston

The PACE Center for Girls of Collier County recently took their annual field trip with four of their young ladies to Washington, D.C. The young ladies have displayed positive behavior, good attendance, good grades, and received staff recommendations to attend. 

While in D.C., they visited the Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery, the Holocaust Museum, the National Air and Space Museum. The trip was remarkable and was an educational adventure for these students. It was indeed a great opportunity for them to travel to learn more about our nation’s Capital.

Residential Staff Hosts TAILS Presentation

DJJ’s Office of Residential Services hosted a presentation with one of our new partners, TAILS (Teaching Animals and Individuals Life Skills). The presentation started with TAILS Director Jen Deane explaining how the TAILS program began. Jen obtained her dog training certification in 2013 through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA). She is also a regional director for the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation. Jen now works with many animal welfare organizations, as well as certified trainers and canine experts to help save homeless animals. She discussed all the hard work and support that is takes to run the program. This includes avid fund raising and program promotion. Jen has dedicated herself to “giving a voice” to the most misunderstood dogs. She has worked to build partnerships with adult corrections and juvenile commitment programs and dog rescue organizations. The presentation also included guest speaker Jason Bertrand, who participated in the TAILS program as he neared the end of his 15-year prison sentence. Jason trained and then adopted Sugar Mama, who was nearly euthanized after being rescued from a dogfighting ring in Putnam County. Jason shared his emotional story and what it was like to be a part of saving Sugar Mama’s life, and how in return, she saved his life. During the presentation, Chuck Mitchell also spoke and shared and how he and his wife, Patty, started the Tallahassee's Pet-Assisted Therapy Program. This program includes pet-assisted therapy throughout our local hospitals, schools, courtrooms and nursing homes.

Pictured above (from left to right): Chuck Mitchell, Jason Bertrand and Jen Deane

Staff from RAM-C, a non-secure program for boys operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, accompanied a youth to his interview at the Bridge to Success program in Jacksonville. Since entering the program, the youth has been focused on his education and being able to get into the Bridge to Success program. After his initial meeting, the staff decided that if he focused on his academics and made progress, they would work to get him into the program. The youth took this very seriously and went above and beyond academically.  When the time came, the staff worked with him to prepare him for his interview for the program. He practiced interview skills, created a portfolio, and got ready to rock the interview. The youth did amazing at the interview and the interviewers even mentioned that they hadn’t had a youth bring in a portfolio of documents with a resume, certifications, and awards, or dress up for their interview!  RAM-C is so proud of this youth and all his hard work. His determination and hard work paid off as he was accepted at the Gilbert Bridge to Success Academy!

Cypress Creek JOCC, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, held a water day for the youth. A total of 63 youth participated in the event with 12 of the youth earning all day passes as a result of their exemplary behavior during the evaluation period. The event consisted of a double racer water slide, water balloons, and a gladiator sparring ring/bounce mat. Youth where allowed an hour on the recreation field with the water sports and an hour on the recreation pavilion to play basketball and eat lunch. Staff from all departments also participated in the festivities and a good time was had by all.

Cypress Creek JOCC also had a pig roast to thank the staff for all their hard work with the youth.  Staff members participated in the preparation with other staff preparing broccoli salad, baked beans, macaroni and cheese and brownies.  All three shifts had the opportunity to enjoy the meal. Thank you to all involved for making this event a success!

On July 4th, Challenge Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by Eckerd Connects, facilitated a fun filled day for the program. The youth and staff participated in a slew of activities including a pillowcase water balloon toss, kiddie pool kickball, and indoor ping pong. Facility Administrator Paul Brown also grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the program. This celebration was to ensure that the youth and staff enjoyed a 4th of July celebration – without the fireworks. All staff and youth indicated they had a fun time and felt as if they were home celebrating with their families. It was a great day with staff and youth working together in a positive and engaging environment. 

The youth from Okeechobee Intensive Halfway House, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, assisted at the Arnold's Wildlife Reserve by cleaning animal cages, feeding exotic animals, and tidying up the exhibit. Most of these youth had not been around animals like this before. Although there were no lions, tigers, and bears (Oh My!), the youth interacted with goats, fawns, monkeys, camels, and even got a close look at the endangered Florida panther. The day was truly enjoyed by all. Once the group left the reserve, they went to lunch at Wendy's and caught an afternoon movie.

Detention Staff Attend Retention Training

The management team from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) recently attended a training on employee retention and “The Power of Stay Interviews,” at the Valencia College School of Public Safety in Orlando.

The training was conducted by acclaimed author and CEO of C-Suite Analytics, Richard Finnegan. Mr. Finnegan reviewed statistics with the staff from Orange RJDC and discussed strategies on how to increase employee retention.