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Secretary's Message

September 6, 2013

Secretary Walters’ Weekly Letter

I am so proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice, and I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase DJJ employees and the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).


Wansley Walters

***Reminder: The Human Trafficking Summit is October 3; the “Our Children, Our Future, Restoring Hope” National Faith Symposium is November 6-7, and registration information is available at www.faithsymposium.com.***

I would like to update you on our ongoing efforts to increase the Department’s efficiency, accountability, and transparency as part of the contract reform initiative, but before I get started I want to make note that we are able to implement these innovations because of the hard work and dedication of all of you. Last week, I informed you about our implementation of the Incident Operations Center, the first step of the process. Today, I want take the opportunity to highlight a few of the successes we’ve already achieved. These accomplishments are spread across a wide range of areas, and I hope they give you an idea of the tremendous progress we’ve made to de-silo our Department’s operations and, as a result, increase the Department’s abilities to provide quality services to the youth in our care and get the greatest possible value from taxpayer dollars.


Increasing value

 DJJ has recently made a strategic decision to shift its procurement mechanism to the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) contract vehicle, which better positions the Department to identify the providers who will bring the most innovative and effective services to achieve the best possible outcomes. This has been used successfully for Residential and Probation program services. Furthermore, DJJ has renegotiated numerous contracts in all four program areas – Prevention, Probation, Residential and Detention – seeking cost concessions and additional services from providers as part of the contract renewal process to ensure we are receiving the best value possible.


Accountability and Transparency

 Florida’s youth are at the core of everything we do, and I am proud to share with you that DJJ has successfully established sound and meaningful contract performance measures, which are now incorporated into every new procurement. These measures require providers to maintain service levels from contract award to contract completion, ensuring the youth receive excellent care and have the greatest chance of success. Additionally, we have engaged the Fiscal Monitoring Unit, a component of   DJJ’s Bureau of Finance & Accounting, to review contract expenditures and provide specialized skills to support Contract Management in making certain taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.


Continual improvement

 From our Quality Improvement efforts to our Procurement and Contract Monitoring efforts, the Department continually looks for opportunities to enhance its performance as well as that of its contracted providers.  Earlier this year, Beth Davis from the Office of Program Accountability conducted Contract Manager training for all of our staff managing and monitoring contracts.  Additionally, a workgroup consisting of Detention, Prevention, Residential, Probation, the Office of Health Services and the Office of Program Accountability has recently developed an agency-wide risk assessment process, which is being finalized now. The instrument will inform the frequency and scope of monitoring activities.

In the coming weeks I will provide further background and context on the overall project, including what it aims to achieve and the benefits it will deliver, as well as highlighting some more of the changes being made to the way that the Department procures providers.


Legislative Update

On Tuesday, the Executive Office of Governor Scott formally approved DJJ’s legislative proposals for the 2014 Legislative Session. Chief among those proposals was DJJ’s Chapter 985 revisions which have garnered substantial feedback from stakeholders, legislators and citizens across the state. These revisions are key to our Roadmap to System Excellence as we work toward lasting reform in Florida’s juvenile justice system.

Last week, Representative Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) held the “Civil Rights Restoration Fair” at the Enoch Davis Community Center in St. Petersburg. Citizens from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties were in attendance and one of the main issues on his agenda was Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). DJJ legislative staff provided Representative Rouson with information and statistics about DMC so that the public had a better understanding of the efforts of our agency.


Employee Accolades

Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott announced the members of the ninth class of the Gubernatorial Fellows Program. Students participating in the program will gain first-hand experience in state government. Among the ten finalists picked to become a Gubernatorial Fellow was DJJ’s own Anti-Trafficking Coordinator Courtney McCowen. Courtney, a third-year law student at Florida State University and a graduate of the University of Georgia, was selected based on her outstanding leadership skills, strong academic achievement, community activism, and her desire to serve the people of Florida. Fellows will be expected to work a minimum of 20 hours each week and will receive an hourly wage for their time on the job. To broaden the Fellows’ exposure to state government and enhance their experience, they will also meet weekly as a group to participate in educational activities such as presentations, press conferences, policy briefings or to conduct community service. On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to congratulate Courtney on this amazing honor.

Performance Management Update

This is a reminder that managers and supervisors must go into the Peoples First system and enter their current (non-SMART) expectations for each of their employees by OCTOBER 1.

To do this, managers and supervisors should follow the steps below:

  1. Login to People First.
  2. Select the Performance & Talent Management tab.
  3. Select the task in the My Tasks section
  4. Complete the performance expectations setting steps.

With only 18% of employees completed, DJJ is well below the state average of 81%. The good news is there is still time for us to catch up, but it will take everyone’s participation. If you have any questions, please contact Margo Rogers.   

Office of Research and Planning Update

The Office of Research and Planning, led by Mark Greenwald, is a true example of the innovation that is nurtured here within the Department. Their ability to crunch numbers and provide data in real time has supported many of our reform initiatives. Accordingly, Tableau Software, whose products are featured in our agency’s interactive dashboards on our website, has asked analysts Mark Russell and Kathy Jackowski to give a presentation entitled “Leveraging Analytics to Support Reform Initiatives” at its annual conference next week in Washington, D.C. This special honor shows the rest of the country what we in the Department already know which is that DJJ is a recognized leader in data analytics. Congratulations Mark and Kathy for your hard work! To preview the webinar, click here.

Residential Update

Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham and Programs and Policy Coordinator Meg Bates participated in the inaugural Youth in Custody Certificate Program August 19-23 presented by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. The purpose of the program is to focus on the high-risk juvenile offender population and help leaders begin or accelerate systemic change to improve outcomes for these youth in custody.  The program, which drew 35 participants from seven states and the District of Columbia, featured instruction in modules including culture change and leadership; assessment; treatment, services, and reentry; family and youth engagement, and a panel of field experts. The program aimed to bring together the best of both policy and practice—providing participants with research-based instruction on best practices as well as the pragmatic steps needed to lead change.  

Vanessa Wicker from the Office of Residential Services and Bridget Goodrich with G4S Youth Services, LLC, conducted an Impact of Crime (IOC) facilitator training for residential programs in the central region last week at the G4S Youth Services’ Staff Development and Training Center in Tampa.  Fifteen staff members from residential providers participated in the three-day training.  The IOC is an effective intervention curriculum developed by DJJ and designed to teach youth the impact that crimes have upon victims and the “ripple effect” of crime on families and the community.  

Unique to this IOC class was the participation of two existing IOC facilitators who observed and assisted in presenting as a part of a  “train-the trainers” effort.  This effort is designed to increase the Department’s capacity of IOC trainers in the state.  Mr. Karon Montgomery (left in the photo here) provides the IOC training groups to both the Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility and the Hillsborough Girls Academy.  Mr. Zeno O'Neal (right in the photo) currently works at Riverside Academy as a social skills coordinator and has over five years of experience providing IOC classes.

Benefits of the Train the Trainer Model for the IOC include enhanced skills and knowledge, and mastery of the curriculum material.  It increases asset building for the Department and the opportunity to deliver the IOC curriculum and provide sustainable programming.  Train the trainer sessions typically prepare facilitators to present the IOC curriculum effectively, including learning to lead discussions, to listen carefully, to lead activities that reinforce learning, to make accurate observations, and to help participants link the training to their jobs.

Shown above is the entire class.  Front Row (L-R): Todd Speight (Palmetto Youth Academy), Karon Montgomery (G4S Trainer), Barrett Williams (Polk Halfway House), Diana Robinson (Brevard Group Treatment Home), and Jerome Hillsman (Charles Britt Academy).  Back Row (L-R):  Rebecca Wood (Challenge Juvenile Residential Facility), Joseph Courter (Challenge Juvenile Residential Facility), Ebony Prince (Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility), Shileatha Washington (Alachua Academy), Keith Banks (Hastings Youth Academy), Zeno O'Neal (Riverside Academy), Darric Wheelis (Hastings Youth Academy), and Phillip Morrison (Charles Britt Academy).

Contracts Kudos

The Bureau of Contracts, led by Amy Johnson, and the Office of Residential Services, led by Laura Moneyham, was recently challenged to amend forty contracts by September 1 due to a recent federal decision regarding Medicaid eligibility for non-secure residential youth. These critical amendments had to be executed very quickly with staff working well into the evening and weekends. With their hard work, the mission was accomplished and critical services to our children were uninterrupted. This exemplifies the great teamwork and dedication we have here in the Department and I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work.

Training Opportunities

The Department’s Central Region Training on the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) curriculum entitled Mental Health Training Curriculum for Juvenile Justice (MHTC-JJ) will be conducted in Orlando on September 25 at the Valencia College Criminal Justice Institute. The MHTC-JJ Training which focuses on adolescent development, mental health and substance abuse disorders and treatment, trauma-informed care and strategies for engaging and interacting with families and youth in the juvenile justice system will be conducted by DJJ. To attend this exciting training opportunity, you must be a current DJJ employee or contracted staff in the Central Region area whose job description requires you to understand adolescent development, mental health disorders and treatment, trauma informed care and practical strategies for engaging and interacting with families and youth.  To register for the MHTC-JJ, must contact the Office of Health Services by next Friday, September 13.

Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign

I am delighted to announce that the annual Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is now underway with the new online pledging system ready for use. I encourage everyone interested in giving to their favorite charities to follow the steps listed below. Employees wishing to do so have until 5pm on Friday, November 1.

  • Go to the online pledge system at https://www.givingnexus.org/_fsecc2013/ or find it on www.fsecc.com
  • Select “Yes” or “Sign Up.”
  • Select your state agency. (This is called your subdivision in the system.)
  • Complete the online form. Create any user name and password that meets the system’s criteria.


If you need further instructions or want more detail about the online pledge process, visit www.fsecc.com.

Probation Update

Last Saturday, JPO Jon Justison, SJPOs Lesa Regan and Jared White and JPOS Marilyn Walker, all from Circuit 6, partnered with circuit Judge Kimberly Todd to volunteer with the Pinellas County Science & Technology Education and Innovation Center. This endeavor provided some of our youth the opportunity to give back to the community while earning valuable community service hours. The new monthly project is designed to assist the Innovation Center with cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep of the facility. The success of this project has led Executive Director Joseph Cuenco to reach out to our youth and offer them opportunities to learn about computer hardware, space exploration and robotics. 

Last Wednesday, Reform Specialist Khalilah Daniels, JDAI Coordinator Scott Buchannan and CPO Judy Roysden, all from Circuit 13, attended an Alternative Education Partners meeting with Hillsborough circuit Judge Ralph Stoddard as well as Hillsborough County School staff members Walt Shaffner, Chrissy Dorian, Nancy Lind and Theophilus Hill. This newly formed committee will address alternative education students and how the school system, the courts, and DJJ can partner together to make these students more successful, the result of which has already prevented several arrests.

The 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida was selected by the Center for Court Innovation and the Bureau of Justice Assistance as one of the three national sites for the Improving Courtroom Communication Project. The Improving Courtroom Communication Project is based on extensive research showing that defendants are more likely to comply with the law if they feel they are being treated fairly and have a clear understanding of the court process.  Circuit 11 Probation and Community Intervention is excited and proud to a partner in this worthwhile endeavor. To learn more about the project, click here.

Prevention Update

Office of Prevention staff, led by Wanda Finnie, attended the Child Protection Summit in Orlando last week hosted by the Department of Children and Families. The three-day summit featured a wide array of DJJ specific topics including a breakout session on the Roadmap to System Excellence, and a visit from Miami-Dade’s Resident Therapy Dog Justice. Pictured from left to right are: Daniella Delvento, Marie Boswell, Pat McGhee and Cici Battle

Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell from Circuits 11, 16 and 17 attended the Reading Pals Volunteer Orientation sponsored by the United Way of Miami-Dade County. The purpose of this program is to bring together community volunteers to help young people improve their literacy skills. As a volunteer Marie will spend one hour per week for the next twenty-four weeks helping children build their vocabulary and other literary skills by reading high-quality books and engaging them in interactive learning. 

On August 20, Prevention Specialist Tina Levine from Circuits 10 and 13 made a visit to Hillsborough Detention West to speak with some of our at-risk female youth. Tina encouraged the young ladies to make positive choices and did her best to assure them that there is a better life. 

This last story comes to us from DMC Program Analyst Joshua Kuch and is a fitting tribute to all of the grandparents out there as we celebrate Grandparents Day on Sunday. Joshua’s great-grandparents were Isabella and Lawrence Edenfield who owned a 90-acre tract of farmland on what is now Edenfield Road in Tallahassee which connects Miccosukee Road and Mahan Road. During the 1950’s, the Edenfields allowed needy college students and members of the neighboring African-American communities to grow fruits and vegetables on their land. This is a fantastic story which was highlighted in Wednesday’s Tallahassee Democrat and definitely confirms why Joshua is so dedicated to improving the lives of the children and families our Department serves. To read the full article, click here