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Secretary's Message

June 24, 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 Speaks at FJJA Retreat and Visits Local Programs

Secretary Simone Marstiller speaking at the Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s annual retreat.This past week, Secretary Simone Marstiller had the opportunity to speak at the Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s annual retreat. FJJA is a statewide organization that supports juvenile justice and brings together individuals, agencies, organizations and private and non-profit corporations to improve Florida’s juvenile justice system. Secretary Marstiller and attendees had an open dialogue about how the agency and our provider-partners can better serve the youth in our care.

While in the area, Secretary Marstiller also stopped by a few programs to take a tour and speak with the staff and youth. First, Secretary Marstiller stopped by Prodigy Cultural Arts Program in Tampa. Prodigy is a DJJ contracted prevention and diversion program for at-risk youth between the ages of 5-18 under the University Area Community Development Corporation. Prodigy uses visual and performing arts to help young people develop life skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving, anger management, career aspirations, and goal setting.

The next day, Secretary Marstiller stopped by two AMIkids programs. First, she made a trip to the AMIkids Tampa, which is a day treatment program operated through a contract with DJJ that provides services to probation, minimum-risk commitment, and conditional release youth. Secretary Marstiller also visited the Youth Environmental Services (YES) program in Wimauma. YES is a non-secure residential commitment program for male youth operated by AMIkids. Youth served by this program receive educational services, vocational and life-skills training, mental health overlay services, and behavioral health services.

These visits are always an educational and rewarding experience, and Secretary Marstiller looks forward to visiting even more programs in the future.

Prodigy dance instructors showing off their breaking dancing moves to Secretary Marstiller
Pictured above: Prodigy dance instructors showing off their breaking dancing moves to Secretary Marstiller

Secretary Marstiller along with staff and youth during her visit to the AMIkids program in Tampa.
Secretary Marstiller along with staff and youth during her visit to the AMIkids program in Tampa.

 


 

 

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Sathish Ramasamy - Information Technology (IT) Employee of the Month for May 2019 Congratulations to Sathish Ramasamy for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employee of the Month for May 2019! Each month, IT recognizes an employee using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency. Excellent job Sathish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Juvenile Probation Officer Justin Clark - 2019 Employee of the 2nd Quarter The Circuit 20 Management Team recognized Juvenile Probation Officer Justin Clark as the 2019 Employee of the 2nd Quarter. Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Justin Clark has been involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice since 2017. JPO Clark continues to go above and beyond in every single task he takes on. His professionalism is above what’s expected, and that does not go unnoticed by the other entities involved with DJJ. He consistently communicates effectively to ensure that assignments are completed and any issues that come up are addressed immediately.

During a major hurricane that was projected to be catastrophic, JPO Clark volunteered to stay at the JAC, when he could have left to be with his family and friends. His dedication to his job at that moment was nothing short of amazing. His interaction with co-workers, parents, and other entities within the JAC continues to exceed what is expected from him.

With his ability to work well with others, his professionalism, and the pride he has for his job and duties, JPO Clark is well worth being employee of the quarter.

 


 

Facility Training Coordinator (FTC) Angela Harris - Central Region Employee of the MonthCongratulations to Facility Training Coordinator (FTC) Angela Harris who was recently recognized as the Central Region Employee of the Month. FTC Harris took over the FTC position for the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) last year and has done an amazing job. FTC Harris has revamped the entire training area, overseeing the training of new staff, and tracking training for all staff positions. FTC Harris has instilled in trainees a defined sense of purpose, a positive attitude, and continues to support her trainees long after they start working. FTC Harris' work ethic, positive attitude, and dedication to her job has assisted Orange RJDC in delivering a higher quality of trained staff to the detention center. Congratulations FTC Harris for the amazing impact that you have made at the detention center.

Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center also celebrated Operations Management Consultant (OMC) Bill Sargent’s birthday in the midst of the 2018-2019 Annual Quality Improvement review. Happy Birthday OMC Sargent!

Captain Reginald Allen, Chief Steve Owens, OMC Bill Sargent, Captain Louise Hill-Quick, Director Monica Gray, AA Sherry Barksdale
Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Reginald Allen, Chief Steve Owens, OMC Bill Sargent, Captain Louise Hill-Quick, Director Monica Gray, AA Sherry Barksdale

 


 

DJJ Recognizes June as National Safety Month

Hazard Recognition - Hazards are everywhere.  What risks aren't you seeing?June is National Safety Month and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is participating in the National Safety Council’s National Safety Month Campaign. The overarching purpose is to present safety awareness practices to reduce accidents and injuries to DJJ employees. We have selected “Recognizing hidden dangers: 25 steps to a safer office” for this issue. Recognizing and correcting these hidden dangers are important steps to preventing workstation safety issues. Please take the time to inspect your workstation weekly for “hidden safety dangers” and take the appropriate action to prevent possible injuries to yourself or co-workers.


 

DJJ Office of Health Services Help Honor Nurse of the Year

Recently, the DJJ Office of Health Services joined our partners at the Florida Network for their annual retreat in Palm Coast. At the event, Registered Nurse Consultant Michelle Hall presented the Nurse of the Year Award to Christine Jones with the Children’s Home Society Treasure Coast.

Stacy Gromatski, FL Network of Youth & Family Services, Christine Johns, RN Children’s Home Society Treasure Coast, Don Eslinger, FL Network of Youth and Family Service, and Michelle Hall BSN, RN, Statewide RNC for DJJ OHS.
Pictured above (from left to right): Stacy Gromatski, President and CEO of Florida Network of Youth & Family Services, Christine Johns, RN Children’s Home Society Treasure Coast Don Eslinger, Board of Directors Florida Network of Youth and Family Service, and Michelle Hall BSN, RN, Statewide RNC for Office of Health Services.

John Robertson, FL Network, Michelle Hall, and Tiffany Martin, Project Manager of Research and Operations-FL Network
Pictured above (from left to right): John Robertson, Program Services Director for the Florida Network, Michelle Hall, and Tiffany Martin, Project Manager of Research and Operations-Florida Network

 


 

Probation Youth Become Certified in SCUBA Diving

 AMIkids PCMI recently concluded a SCUBA camp for seven of their youth.   AMIkids PCMI recently concluded a SCUBA camp for seven of their youth.  

AMIkids PCMI recently concluded a SCUBA camp for seven of their youth. The students learned all the introductory measures needed to receive their Open Water Diver certification by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. This allows them to dive up to 60 feet with a certified buddy or dive professional!

 


 

Eckerd Connects Project Bridge recently hosted their annual Second Chance Charity Golf Tournament in Orlando. Eckerd Connects Project Bridge recently hosted their annual Second Chance Charity Golf Tournament in Orlando. Not only was this year’s tournament the most successful in Project Bridge history, six youth had the opportunity to be a part of the event and meet individuals who have supported their second chances. Attending the event were sport celebrities Isaac Byrd, Blaise Winter, and Vicki Goetze Ackerman. All proceeds raised from the tournament will be invested directly into successfully discharged youth to assist with their long-term success, continued education, and vocational development.

 


 

Circuit 10 Probation staff and youth collaborated with the W.R. Blake Academy in Lakeland and the school’s resource officer Katrina Lewis with the Lakeland Police Department to conduct a community cleanup at the school. The youth pulled overgrown weeds, moss, picked up trash and dead limbs. The eleven youth that participated were able to earn community service hours for their hard work.  

 


 

Circuit 8 staff were able to give their nine graduating youth each a $50 gift card. To acknowledge all their hard work and make their day more special, Circuit 8 staff were able to give our nine graduating youth each a $50 gift card. Below are our JPOs with graduating students:

  • Juvenile Probation Officer Debbie Pruitt had two graduates from Santa Fe High School;
  • JPO Jessica Pena had one graduate from Chiefland High School;
  • JPO Ebony Robinson had two graduates from Central Florida Charter School and Eastside High School;
  • JPO Aparna Clarke had one graduate from Gainesville High School;
  • JPO DeAnna Chesteen had one graduate from Eastside High School; and
  • JPO Andi McAnally and Sr. JPO Felicia Moore each had one youth who obtained their GED.

Each JPO was able to present their youth with a gift card and extend best wishes from all Circuit 8 staff. A total of $450.00 was collected and donated.

The gift cards were donated from Gainesville businesses, including Outback, Chilis, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. This initiative was spearheaded by JPO Supervisor Dollie Wygant and was a joint effort among local businesses, along with Judge Susanne Wilson Bullard, Judicial Assistant Rebecca Jensen, Data Integrity Officer Susan Stormant, JPO Ebony Robinson, JPO Supervisor Kelly Baldwin, and all the wonderful staff of Circuit 8!  

 


 

Residential Program Celebrates Family Day With a Luau-Themed Party

 

Family Day Luau Party at CSI OcalaCenter for Success and Independence – Ocala, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated their family day with a “Luau Party” theme. This day was set aside for families to reunite with their kids, and to discuss any treatment issues or concerns they have with the staff. As each family entered onto the Island of CSI-Ocala, they were greeted by the staff in their Hawaiian attire. Every table was decorated with colorful island drinking cups filled with colorful skittles and each table represented Hawaiian outdoor scenery.

Family Day Luau Party at CSI OcalaA traditional feast was prepared that included sweet meatballs, yellow rice, and sweet baked beans loaded with pineapple chunks on decorative plates that were designed with ferns, leaves and flowers to incorporate the theme. One table was filled with fresh fruit and an island made pineapple and coconut cream cheese cake was prepared for the families to enjoy! The atmosphere, food and discussions allowed for families to continue the reunification process as the youth work toward program completion and prepare for their return to their homes and communities.

 


 

The Office of Residential Services recently hosted the first Residential Assessment for Youth (RAY) Train the Trainer workshop. The Office of Residential Services recently hosted the first Residential Assessment for Youth (RAY) Train the Trainer workshop. This training was held in Orlando and 26 staff from various residential commitment providers attended. The participants received a thorough overview of the new RAY instrument and were given opportunities teach the material themselves to demonstrate comprehension of the content. This training would not have been successful without Vanessa Wicker-Reeves, Garrett Tucker, Natosha Faul, Susan Stormant, Kevin George, Jessica Gibson and Jeff McSpaddin. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey!

 


 

Students at Dove Vocational Academy participated in a competition of Chopped: Dove Edition. Youth in the culinary arts class at Dove Vocational Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by Twin Oaks, have been busy in the kitchen! Under the guidance of instructor Paulette Williams, students participated in a competition of Chopped: Dove Edition. Students were given set ingredients that they were required to use when preparing their dishes. Upon completion of their dishes, students were able to sample their creations. This competition put all the culinary skills they have learned to the test!

 

 

 


 

Joann Bridges Academy, were very fortunate to have two motivational speakers in June, Tamara Johnson and Marvin "Merve" Mattair.. Joann Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by Rite of Passage, were very fortunate to have two exceptional motivational speakers in the month of June. Tamara Johnson and Marvin “Merv’ Mattair are both currently employed as senior health educators at the Florida Department of Health

Both speakers performed skits and used role playing to engage their audience in various scenarios. They shared a plethora of information and all students were allowed to interact and speak freely while asking very purpose-driven questions. The students’ in-depth questions led to a meaningful discussion about maintaining healthy relationships.

 


 

Columbus Youth Academy held its quarterly family day. Columbus Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, held its quarterly family day. The program’s volunteers as well as the juvenile probation officers that are assigned to the youth also attended.

The day was full of fun with over 75 guests attending to spend time with the youth. Columbus Youth Academy also had performances from the Voices of Columbus choir led by case manager Adolphus McMillian and guitar-based music program led by Therapist Tim Mason.

 


 

The young men at Duval Academy have been working hard on resume building, preparing cover letters, and exploring potential career paths.  The young men at Duval Academy have been working hard on resume building, preparing cover letters, and exploring potential career paths.

Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, is on a mission to provide all youth with resources and hands-on experiences to be successful upon completion of the program. The young men have been working hard on resume building, preparing cover letters, and exploring potential career paths. The effort and initiative shown by the young men have given way to the program’s inaugural “Off-Campus Job Program.”

Duval Academy youth are highly motivated to take part in upcoming job opportunities, whether in Jacksonville or back home in their respective cities, upon release. Some companies the youth have reached out to include Amazon, UPS, FedEx, Publix, CiCi’s Pizza, and McDonald’s.

Recently, two youth attended the McDonalds Summer Hiring event. Both youth arrived at the event with portfolios which included a resume, cover letter, references, and a recommendation letter. Both young men were given individual interviews and were each invited back for orientation the following week. The youth have stated they plan to earn enough money to pay off their court fees, restitution, and leave the program with some money in their pocket for a fresh start.

 


 

Jacksonville Youth Academy hosted the Brainerd Baptist Church Student Choir out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, hosted the Brainerd Baptist Church Student Choir out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The choir, on their 2019 Higher Love tour, made Jacksonville Youth Academy their first stop on the Florida leg of their trip. The hour-long concert provided a faith-based opportunity in the form of upbeat music, inspirational speeches, and dancing as well as dramatic skits. Residents and choir members also participated in a rewarding question and answer session. Every resident at the facility enjoyed the show as well as staff from all departments, many of whom came in specifically to participate and help the event run smoothly.

 


 

Detention Youth Participate in the Arts 4 All Program

The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center participated in the Arts 4 All program. The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center participated in the Arts 4 All program. The program has been working with the B5 Honors Boys Dorm and the G1 Girls Mod to help the youth get creative during their stay. The youth are currently using pottery to create various art projects. Everyone enjoys the chance to express themselves through their art while also learning.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Sameh Abdel Nour with the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center for being selected as the Provider Employee of the Month. Mr. Abdel Nour teaches math at the center and is always professional and sets high standards for all students. Mr. Abdel Nour keeps the youth engaged during class and youth report that they enjoy learning in his class. The detention center staff and his fellow teachers report that he is a pleasure to work with.

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Reginald Allen, Mr. Sameh Abdel Nour, and Lead Teacher Dr. Christopher Smart
Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Reginald Allen, Mr. Sameh Abdel Nour, and Lead Teacher Dr. Christopher Smart

Designated Mental Health Authority (DHMA) Amanda McCloud was also awarded an Orange Tough award for her continuing contributions Designated Mental Health Authority (DHMA) Amanda McCloud was also awarded an Orange Tough award for her continuing contributions to the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center. DMHA Amanda McCloud is definitely “Orange Tough” and has contributed greatly to the massive improvements here at Orange over the past year. Please join me in congratulating and thanking Orange Tough DMHA Amanda McCloud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director of Community Engagement and Special Projects Cynthia Schmidt, Esq., with the Office of the State Attorney Ninth Judicial Circuit along with her intern, Jessica WilliamsFinally, at Orange RJDC, Director of Community Engagement and Special Projects Cynthia Schmidt, Esq., with the Office of the State Attorney Ninth Judicial Circuit along with her intern, Jessica Williams (a 2nd year law student) spoke to two different groups of youth about the topic: “What You Need To Know About the Law and Likely Don’t Know Yet.” The lesson covered information about adult court and how admission into college with an arrest record works. This informational session provided youth the opportunity to ask questions and receive information that could be vital for creating a successful future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Prevention Youth Attend Friday Night Done Right Event

5th Annual Jackie Robinson Friday Night Done Right Event at the Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona BeachVolusia County Department of Juvenile Justice Council and One Voice for Volusia, Inc. recently celebrated the 5th Annual Jackie Robinson Friday Night Done Right Event at the Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona Beach. In partnership with One Voice for Volusia, the Volusia DJJ Council nominated over 20 at-risk youth to be honored.

Hosted as part of the annual Jackie Robinson Celebration at historic Jackie Robinson Stadium, where Jackie Robinson first broke the color barrier in Daytona Beach prior to breaking barriers in the major leagues, this event acknowledges the importance of youth resilience and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

Over 250 attended the awards picnic before the game thanks to the generosity of the Volusia Sheriff’s Youth Foundation. Programs such as Teen Court, the PACE Center for Girls, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Volusia Sheriff’s Explorers, DJJ Probation, and more honored their nominated youth with certificates, shirts and hundreds of dollars’ worth of community coupons and vouchers for access to fun activities in the community.

During the ceremony, representatives from each program spoke about the character of the nominated youth before their families, peers and community leaders. The awardees then took to the field where the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year threw out the first pitch.

 


 

State & Federal Director Eugene Morris recently attended graduation for the PACE Center for Girls Leon at the Howell Center in Tallahassee.

The 2019 PACE Leon Class got some valuable advice from Dr. Kathleen Rodgers, assistant superintendent of Leon County Schools about taking positive steps in their lives. Dr. Rodgers encouraged the graduates to have a plan, rely on their strengths, support each other, and celebrate each other’s successes.

The 14 graduates were also urged to remain vigilant in their quest for new opportunities and to remember the lessons learned from the instructors at PACE. Many of those instructors even shared reflections of time spent with the graduates.

Among the family, friends and board members attending the ceremony was longtime PACE supporter, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead.

Sakina, Aysha, Eugene Morris, and Jenia
Pictured above (from left to right): Sakina, Aysha, Eugene Morris, and Jenia

The 14 graduates of the PACE Leon Class of 2019
Pictured above: the 14 graduates of the PACE Leon Class of 2019

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