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Secretary's Message

August 28, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

As my time as secretary draws to a close, I would like to again thank each and every one of you for the commitment you have made to bettering the lives of Florida’s youth and families. It has been an absolute pleasure to serve as secretary and to have the opportunity to share all that we have accomplished every week in this newsletter. Together we have made significant strides in reforming our juvenile justice system which now serves as a national model for others around our country. The accomplishments we’ve made could not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff, providers, and stakeholders. My time serving at DJJ is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I look forward to all the amazing achievements you will make going forward. It has been an honor to work alongside you as we worked to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families. 


Christina K. Daly

Detention Officers Receive Badges and Host an Ice Cream Social


Major Conrad McCray and Captain Sherell Cummings from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently presented Juvenile Detention Officers (JDO) Antanese Rivers and La’Vashia Morris with their badges upon becoming juvenile detention officers. Both JDOs Rivers and Morris graduated from the Juvenile Justice Academy at the Florida Public Safety Institute.

Corporal Justin Pettis (shown right) from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center provided haircuts for the young men on the W2 wing. Corporal Pettis performed this service as a way to give back to the youth at the facility.  

The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center also recently held an ice cream social for youth with Major Adrian Mathena (shown left). The social provided youth the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Major Mathena about their experiences in detention.

MQI Hosts Annual Statewide Meeting

The Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) recently held their annual statewide meeting in Orlando. During this meeting, the entire MQI team came together to share accomplishments for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, provide workgroup updates, share information of resources and suggestions, discuss best practices, engage in team building activities, and conduct inter-rater reliability exercises to ensure consistency throughout the state when rating performance indicators. Staff participated in program area presentations and discussions with the Central Communications Center, Background Screening Unit, Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP), Provider Monitoring and Management (PMM) and SharePoint through the function of web conferencing, which is one of the benefits of using Go-To-Webinar technology.

The MQI team also took time to recognize team members for their years of service, outstanding team members who went the extra mile beyond their normal job duties, and those team members who made a special effort and commitment throughout the year to assist their team members in achieving their professional accomplishments and goals. The MQI team also recognized Glenn Garvey, central regional monitor, on his upcoming retirement in October after twenty-eight years of service with the Department.

Prevention Staff Attend Youth Summit and Public Safety Event

Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin recently attended the 2018 Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) Youth Summit in Washington, D.C. The CJJ Youth Summit is a forum for young people from across the United States who are interested in juvenile justice reform. This summit cultivates and empowers leaders of tomorrow by providing them with the tools needed to leverage their expertise. They are taught the basics of juvenile justice and key topics within the field.

The keynote speaker was Adam J. Foss, a former assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, MA. Mr. Foss is a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration. His philosophy is that the profession of prosecution is ripe for reinvention, requiring better incentives and more measurable metrics for success beyond, simply, “cases won.”

Providing added value to the summit was the CJJ’s Emerging Leaders Committee, which partners with the emerging leaders in the field of juvenile justice. Panelist speakers included Dr. Shakira Washington, Vice President of the National Crittenton Foundation and Samantha Lopez, Director of National Crittenton who spoke about trauma and healing adversity during childhood. Also in attendance was the EVAC organization (shown right) from Jacksonville, a youth-led movement that challenges communities to ditch the “at-risk” label and instead view youth as irrevocably “at-HOPE.” 

Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and Reform Specialist Therese Moses from Circuit 1 hosted a DJJ resource table during the recent Escambia County Provider Fair in Pensacola. The fair was an opportunity for participants to get up-to-date information from providers in the community. This event was hosted by the Escambia County Family Law Advisory Committee, which is the umbrella organization for all components of the Unified Family Court. Providers who participated included representatives from provider benefits, social services, healthcare, education, child welfare, delinquency, legal services, housing and employment resources for the community.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashett Omeally recently attended the Everyday Safety on the Move Initiative, presented by the Tallahassee Police Department. The purpose of this initiative is to teach youth how to have meaningful, safe and positive interactions with law enforcement. This event was designed to teach public safety practices within the community. Other community organizations in attendance were the Leon County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Tallahassee Urban League.

The officers held sessions with different groups of kids where they each had an opportunity to ask questions. The officers also shared with the youth how to protect themselves and promote public safety. The Leon County EMS provided youth the opportunity to participate in a distracted driving simulation, using special goggles which mimicked the behavior of distracted driving. In addition to the distracted driving simulation, they taught youth how to handle themselves and what to do should they witness someone choking. All children who participated in the event were given small tokens which included pencils, coloring books, sunglasses and stickers for school. There were approximately 50 youth in attendance. 

The PACE Center for Girls of Alachua County recently hosted a Happy and Healthy Back to School Fair in Gainesville. Since health fairs are primarily catered to adults and back-to-school fairs place a heavy emphasis on children, PACE Alachua decided to blend the two together for this unique event. The fair was hosted by local radio station Magic 101.3FM, Lucky’s Market, Panera Bread, Tropical Smoothie Café and Bolay.

The fair hosted a multitude of vendors and offered CPR demonstrations, health and wellness screenings, healthy snacks, kid-friendly crafts, fitness classes, stress management presentations and other activities to encourage healthy living. In addition, the first 100 participants received backpacks filled with school supplies that were donated by the local Walmart. 

Residential Services Holds Program Directors Meeting and Youth Participate in Fun Days

Northwest Residential Services recently held its quarterly Program Directors meeting in Chipley at the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC). The meeting was well attended and included the following directors: Director of Operations William Freeman, Escambia Boys Base, AMI Kids, Inc.; Facility Administrator Diwon Barron, Crestview Youth Academy Non-Secure BDD/DD & Secure Substance Abuse, Youth Opportunity Investments, Inc.; Facility Administrator Derek Peoples, Okaloosa YA/SA & Crestview SOP, UHS, Inc; Facility Administrator Cody Wood, Walton Academy for Growth & Change, Rite of Passage, Inc.; Program Area Manager George “Butch” Chapman, HBI, Inc. Okaloosa YA and Walton AGC; Facility Administrator Amy McGinty and Assistant Facility Administrator Shyron Johnson, DOVE Academy, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.; Facility Administrator Donald Lasseter, JUST & TOVA II, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.; and Facility Administrator Tuwollar Mobley, JoAnn Bridges Academy, Rite of Passage, Inc. Other attendees included Program Manager Celena Hayes, Project Connect, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. and Ken Myers, DJJ education liaison, as well as Northwest Residential region staff.

The highlight of the meeting was program recognition; six of the eight facility administrators (from Crestview SOP, Escambia Boys Base, JoAnn Bridges Academy, JUST, TOVA II, Crestview YA Secure SA & Walton AGC) were presented with certificates for having zero physical interventions during the last quarter. This represented seven of 11 program components and was a 25% increase from the previous quarter.

In addition, the team was excited to present two administrators with gold star awards for zero physical interventions for fiscal year 17-18: JoAnn Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls ages, JUST, a non-secure program for boys, and TOVA II, a non-secure program for boys. Northwest Residential region staff wanted to take the opportunity to recognize the terrific accomplishment by the staff and the program youth who make a gold star team!

Following the Program Directors meeting, the quarterly all region face-to-face staff meeting was held to discuss regional business. They also celebrated quarterly birthdays and enjoyed a great lunch and fellowship. During the meeting, the regional staff were also recognized for the stellar jobs they do day-in and day-out to ensure the region runs smoothly. This includes their efforts in ensuring youth are appropriately placed and are receiving the best services to meet their needs, all while in a safe and therapeutic environment. To recognize their great work, they all received the “Awesome Sauce Award” and a custom “Team Awesome Sauce (Secret Family Recipe)” decal. Northwest Residential Services would not be what it is without this awesome team and I would like to thank them all on their hard work:  AA II Jacqueline Woodham, SMA II Dwight Poole, Commitment Chief April Lewis, Safety & Security Specialist Neil Stier, General Services Liaison Kelvin Sanders, Lead Commitment Manager Sean Dorsey, Commitment Managers Stuart Wolcott and Renee Westmoreland, Operations Review Specialists Patrice Richardson and Amy Daglish.

RAMC, a non-secure program for boys operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, wanted to reward some of the youth who have been participating in Boys and Girls Club activities and making progress in their treatment and school. The reward was an amazing day at the Fun Spot in Orlando! One youth shared, “the trip was very fun. It made me feel like I was closer to going home. The off-campus trip was cool being able to walk around, go on rides, see different people and eat different foods. It was a blast and I would love to go again. This makes me want to keep doing good so I can go home and take my little brothers and sisters to things like this too. I am really happy we had such a good day.” Overall it was a great day for all youth and staff!

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, held a mini pool table tournament. The competition was held in a round robin style and the winner received a fast food meal of his choice. Fifteen youth participated with youth B.W. coming out victorious. Although there was only one winner, the other youth enjoyed snack cakes and music throughout the tournament.

The following week Hastings and Gulf Academy celebrated the accomplishments of several youth with a reward of a homemade Italian dinner. The youth enjoyed spaghetti with meat sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni and fettuccini alfredo. All youth who participated showed progress in their treatment teams and remained violation free for the month. More than 30 youth attended and ate many plates of pasta.

Union Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, recently enjoyed a Family Fun Day at the program. Everyone enjoyed a fun filled day of games, food, and family-focused activities including bingo, charades, volleyball, and even an obstacle course. The day was kicked off with an exciting theme of “Sports Favorites.”  Both family and staff members were given the challenge of dressing up in their favorite sports gear! The purpose was to allow the youth to demonstrate healthy relationship practices obtained during their treatment. Youth used social skills they learned and teambuilding practices to therapeutically repair broken boundaries with family members.

Thanks to the Staff Appreciation Committee for all the time and effort put into making the day a great one!

It’s a graduation celebration at Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. Congratulations to the young man from Jacksonville Youth Academy that worked hard and fulfilled all requirements to receive his high school diploma before exiting the program. He now plans to join the Navy or attend college upon his release.

A few days later after the graduation, Jacksonville Youth Academy traveled down to Orlando to face Orange Youth Academy in a game of basketball. After an intense action-packed game, Orange Youth Academy came out victorious. The youth displayed great sportsmanship and even had the opportunity to fellowship with each other following the game.  

At the beginning of this month, the youth of Columbus Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, along with Recreational Therapist Josh Glanton and Medical Clerk Casandra Peterson volunteered at the Feeding Tampa Bay distribution center. Feeding Tampa Bay focuses on providing food to the more than 700,000 people who go hungry in the 10-county area of West Central Florida. The youth assisted by sorting non-perishable foods, packing produce, stocking shelves and filling pallets full of food to be distributed to those less fortunate. Along with other volunteers the youth helped create 11,250 meals!

Fort Myers Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, took to the race track at Mike Greenwell’s Family Fun Park. They were revving to get out there and improve their racing skills, once they were all buckled in of course! As soon as the light turned green, they were off! Some took it as a casual Sunday drive, while others fought for the number 1 spot! After several rounds of racing, it was clear that they were all winners and were treated to a very well-deserved celebratory meal.

Two youth from Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, are now college freshmen at Miami Dade College in Kendall. Both youth completed freshmen orientation, received a welcoming packet, college ID card and course options.

The goal is to expose youth to better choices, better decisions, and to make a positive impact. They program projects that ten youth in 2018 will be enrolled in college for either online or on campus courses. “Your education is your passport to your success, stamp every page with new knowledge; and go far and soar.” said Johnny Richardson, MYA Facility Administrator.

Probation Staff Hold Bridging The G.A.A.P. Discussion

Circuit 5 Reform Specialist Ryan Dorenbush recently spearheaded a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) discussion between youth, members of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, the Sumter County Teen Court and the Wildwood Police Department.

Sumter County Judge Paul Militello served as the moderator of the discussion. It was a wonderful opportunity to share and listen to the discussions between the youth and law enforcement officers. At the end of the night, all participants walked out with a greater insight and understanding of each other’s perspectives.