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Secretary's Message

March 25, 2019

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

Welcome to our weekly letter, with the latest on what’s going on and what the team is doing across the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. I hope you will take a moment to read about the ways our DJJ staff, providers, and partners are working to improve the lives of Florida’s youth and families and how we are working to make our communities even better.

Please keep sharing your great work, successes, and accomplishments both on and off the clock in serving the youth, families, and communities touched by DJJ. Your stories inspire us all to do more. So, send your good news to news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon.

Sincerely, 

Secretary Simone Marstiller


 

Secretary Marstiller Takes Part in Juvenile Probation Officer Training

Secretary Marstiller attended juvenile probation officer training at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway.Last week, Secretary Simone Marstiller attended juvenile probation officer training at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway. Secretary Marstiller participated in the training to gain a better understanding of the role juvenile probation officers play throughout the juvenile justice process. “It is important for me to know and understand how we do what we do,” said Secretary Marstiller.

Juvenile probation officers play an important role in the lives of our youth and often serve as mentors, guiding youth through the process and helping them get back on track.

 


 

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Ariel VeguillaPlease join us in welcoming Ariel Veguilla to his new role as Behavior Management Specialist with the Office of Detention Services.

Ariel began his career with our agency in 2007, when he worked as a juvenile detention officer and then supervisor at the Marion Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). He then became the assistant detention superintendent at Alachua RJDC. He was promoted and later served as the detention superintendent for both Okaloosa RJDC and Pinellas RJDC.

Although born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Ariel graduated high school in Puerto Rico and attended the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico where he studied architecture. In 1998, after Hurricane George, he moved to Florida. Ariel is a recent graduate of the CPM Program and has been married to his wife Erika for 9 years. 

Please join us in congratulating Ariel in his new position with the Office of Detention Services and DJJ! 

 


Congratulations to Brett Ross and Eric Robinson for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for February 2019.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.

IT Employee of the Month Eric Robinson

IT Employee of the Month Brett Ross

 Pictured above:  Eric Robinson, Systems Project Analyst

 Pictured above:  Brett Ross, Systems Project Consultant and Dennis Hollingsworth, Chief of Information Technology.

 


 

Florida Tax Watch Productivity AwardsDJJ employees are among the most innovative and creative people in all of state government as they continue to seek more productive ways to perform their jobs with increased efficiency. We are happy to announce that the 2019 Florida TaxWatch Productivity Awards provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the innovative ideas and resulting cost savings accomplished by enterprising DJJ employees.

Nominations are now open and the forms for the 2019 Productivity Awards can be accessed at http://tpa.floridataxwatch.org. Please take a few moments today to review the application and instructions before nominating a deserving DJJ employee or team of employees.

HOW TO NOMINATE:

The nomination process is now open and will close on April 8, 2019. To nominate yourself or a team of employees, please download the nomination form from the website above, fill out the application, and submit the word document to Productivity Awards Coordinator Molly Best at molly.best@djj.state.fl.us. Our agency will review all nominations and then submit the packets directly to Florida TaxWatch. To ensure that all nominations are accurate and properly reviewed, DJJ will not approve nominations submitted after March 29, 2019 at 5:00 PM. No new nominations will be accepted after that time.

Questions regarding nominations should be directed to Molly Best at molly.best@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2711.

CATAGORIES FOR 2019:

This year, Florida TaxWatch has introduced distinct nomination categories so that the awards are open to even more employees. You can find the description for each category below. Teams for categories other than Agency of the Year are limited to 5 members.

Agency of the Year

This award is given to the agency/division/department/office (more than 5 employees) that, through the development or implementation of a new program or effort, has improved the quality of life or delivery of service to a significant number of Floridians.

Technology / Innovation

This award is given to the individual or group (≤ 5 members) that utilized or created new technological or innovative solutions to make the state more responsive to and/or effective for taxpayers. Qualifying nominations could include the creation of unique software to address a problem that would otherwise have gone unsolved, or the automation of a process or procedure that dramatically impacted taxpayers’ access to state resources or programs.

Quality of Life

This award is given to the individual or group (≤ 5 members) that took remarkable steps to make Florida an even more attractive place to live, work, and play. Qualifying nominations could include going above and beyond to create access to a new park or recreation area, increasing public health through a new & innovative initiative, or dramatically reducing the amount of time necessary to complete a major public works project. If you aren't sure which category to choose, this one is your answer.

Service Delivery Improvement

This award is given to the individual or group (≤ 5 members) that dramatically improved the quality and efficiency of the delivery of service to taxpayers in any area of state government. Qualifying nominations could include improvements to the turnaround time of processing documentation, reducing the time or cost necessary to provide a new or existing service, or increasing the number of Floridians served by a program without increasing the cost.


Prevention Staff Serves as Guest Speaker at Anti-Bullying Rally

 

Statewide Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady recently spoke at an anti-bullying rally in Tallahassee.Statewide Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady recently spoke at an anti-bullying rally in Tallahassee.

There were over 200 youth and families in attendance at this outstanding and informative event. Senior Probation Officer Supervisor Theresa Chambliss also participated in the rally.  

During her presentation, Ms. Lawson-Grady encouraged the youth in attendance to reach out to someone for assistance if they feel threatened or can’t handle a situation. Youth were encouraged to speak with their parents, a teacher, minister, or someone they trust in authority who can assist with the issue. 

This was a very rewarding day, filled with entertainment for all ages and other fun activities.


Pace Center for Girls Hillsborough participated in the Disney Youth Educational Series (Y.E.S.) “Managing Your Personal Brand” held in Orlando. Pace Center for Girls Hillsborough participated in the Disney Youth Educational Series (Y.E.S.) “Managing Your Personal Brand” held in Orlando. At this event, girls learned how to formulate strategies for personal and professional success, begin planning for a promising future, and discovered how to navigate unexpected career highs and lows.

During the Y.E.S. programming, Disney's Hollywood Studios becomes the backdrop for students' exploration of self-awareness and the realization that they have the power to improve their circumstances through the choices they make each day.  Students discover elements that make up their personal brand and the necessity of fostering their brand to protect a future they may not have imagined yet.


Delinquency Prevention Specialist Sandra Ferguson recently coordinated a Bridging the G.A.A.P (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) Discussion with the Boys and Girls Club of Lee County in Fort Myers. 

The purpose of the conversation is to provide a forum where youth and law enforcement can speak freely in a safe environment to share their issues and to gain understanding of each other. Youth spoke candidly about their views and officers took the time to create a calm atmosphere with the youth, especially those who had never been close to a law enforcement officer before.  They also provided insight on their day-to-day duties and responsibilities.

The moderator for this GAAP Discussion was Dr. Sandra Pavelka, PhD., Professor & Director, Institute for Youth and Justice Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University and Chairperson for the Circuit 20 Advisory Board. A special thank you to the officers from the Fort Myers Police Department who participated in this GAAP Discussion. Student participants were in elementary and middle school.


Probation Staff Participate in Walk the Block for Hunger Awareness Event

Circuit 6 Probation recently participated in the Florida Dream Center’s 2nd Annual Walk the Block for Hunger Circuit 6 Probation recently participated in the Florida Dream Center’s 2nd Annual Walk the Block for Hunger by replenishing their mobile food pantry for the event. The Florida Dream Center assists all families with food insecurities in Pinellas County and they have locations in South St. Pete, Lealman and Tarpon Springs. 

This was a great opportunity to help give back to the community by having youth assist with replenishing the pantry. 245 pounds of food were collected and distributed.  Special thanks go out to Unit 207 who collected most of the non-perishable foods!

 


 

AMIkids Clay and more than 30 youth attended the recent Amalie Motor Oil’s National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Gatornationals at the Gainesville RacewayAMIkids Clay and more than 30 youth attended the recent Amalie Motor Oil’s National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Gatornationals at the Gainesville Raceway. Gatornationals is an annual drag racing event held each March in Gainesville. This was a fun-filled day with the youth enjoying a number of the races and activities!

 

 

 

 


AMIkids Orlando has continued its partnership with Arrow Sign Spinners, a multi-million dollar international company. AMIkids Orlando has continued its partnership with Arrow Sign Spinners, a multi-million dollar international company. Students have worked with the company and enjoyed the opportunity to make good money in an energetic and fun atmosphere. 

 

 

 

 


Henry Valdes, Karen Pickernell, Christina Banks, Richard Christie, Tricia Alvarez, Maria Ortiz, Cynthia Toyinbo, Jamie Rea, Melissa Nairns and Mike Shoemaker Pasco County Circuit 6 JPOs Henry Valdes, Karen Pickernell, Christina Banks, Richard Christie, Tricia Alvarez, Maria Ortiz, Cynthia Toyinbo, Jamie Rea, Melissa Nairns and JPOS Mike Shoemaker attended a Taco Wednesday and Game Day Celebration at PAXEN Pasco

The team enjoyed food prepared by the youth and then engaged in some fun activities. It was a great experience interacting with the youth on a positive level and seeing them just enjoy themselves and be kids. A fun time was had by all!

 


Due to a recent rash of gun violence, Apopka residents came together on March 14th to meet at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to voice their concerns and opinions to local law enforcement agencies about what they believe should be done in their community to stop the violence. 

Representatives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Corrections, and the Apopka Police Department were present to listen and offer advice. Circuit 9 Chief of Probation Johnny Alderman was present on behalf of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Chief Alderman spoke to the attendees about the Office of Youth and Family Advocacy and how through the Office, youth and families will have an additional avenue to raise concerns and engage with DJJ to ensure their needs are addressed. He also emphasized the importance of continued communication with our local staff in the community. Residents were also encouraged to get involved by volunteering time with the Department.

 


 

Residential Youth Complete Campus Renovation Project

Youth at Crestviewe Youth Academy work on a renovation project.This week at Crestview Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, youth worked on a renovation project. Mr. Willard, the program’s physical plant manager, worked with a few of the youth on a campus renovation project. Over the course of several weeks, these young men completely rebuilt the bathroom sinks! Mr. Willard led the youth through instructions and provided education on which tools to use. The youth were very proud of their hard work and the finished product!

 

 

 


The youth at Escambia Boys Base, a non-secure program operated by AMIkids, refined their carpentry skills this month. The youth at Escambia Boys Base, a non-secure program operated by AMIkids, refined their carpentry skills this month. The students from the National Center for Construction Education carpentry class built two corn hole games.

The students were able to use the game during one of the team building groups. Carpentry class is one of the vocational programs at Escambia Boys Base, and the students have had the opportunity to experience building picnic tables, desks and now corn hole!

 

 

 

 


 

NFL and MLB sports agent Eric Hires, Esq. speaking to youthKissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, welcomed a special guest speaker to the program. Through a community partnership, the facility was able to welcome NFL and MLB sports agent Eric Hires, Esq. to speak to the youth. Mr. Hires represents several professional athletes and operates a successful law firm locally in Orlando.

The topic of the day was, “Sight vs. Vision.” Mr. Hires sought to invoke the thought of change in the youth at KYA. The youth were empowered to see past their current circumstance (sight) and look towards a greater future and path (vision). After a brief motivational pep talk, the floor was open for the youth to ask whatever questions they had. The youth were eager to hear from someone who is involved in a field that many of them aspire to be in someday. Mr. Hires has committed to joining the community partnership with KYA and looks forward to returning to mentor youth.


Broward YTC presented with the YOI Investing in Excellence TM floating trophy.  The youth and staff at Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments (YOI), were presented with the YOI Investing in Excellence TM floating trophy.  YOI’s continued commitment to investing in their people and positive outcomes for the youth in their care is highlighted in its Investing in ExcellenceTM incentive program, which recognizes employees high level performance and creating a positive culture.

On a quarterly basis, as part of YOI’s extensive risk management system, YOI regional compliance and corporate leadership conduct quality assurance site visits and verification of service delivery, health and treatment services, living environment, fiscal and HR data, and communication and satisfaction surveys. Based on this outcome data, each program is ranked, and the highest-ranking program is recognized with an Investing in ExcellenceTM trophy, plus a monetary award to be used for staff recognition. This process has set up strong, healthy competition amongst YOI programs. This is only one of the multiple components of the Investing in ExcellenceTM incentive program, which ensures staff are appreciated and promotes a strong sense of community.


Detention Staff and Youth Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently participated in a St. Patrick Day celebration. It was a day filled with fun for staff and youth and even included a birthday party for a youth who turned 18 while at the detention center. Youth decorated shirts and participated in a cookie decorating contest. The food was prepared by Major Finlayson, and the cake was donated by the Sparkle Saulter and her team with mental health services! As always, the celebration was a great success and included good music, food and fellowship. The level three youth and detention staff really had a blast!

St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center

St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center


To celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Food Support Director Deshawn Harrold made decorative St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes for the youth and staff to enjoy. Later, Ms. Druley from the League of Women Voters sponsored a taco bar for the level three youth. The youth enjoyed the tacos and fun was had by all!

Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center

Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center

Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center

 

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