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Secretary's Message

September 13, 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 http://faithsymposium.dcf.state.fl.us/***


 Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP)

This week, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly; Assistant Secretary Joni Wimmer, Probation and Community Intervention; Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Residential Services; Mark Greenwald, Director of Research and Planning; Mike Baglivio, Senior Research Analyst and expert in evidence-based practices;  and Jackie Young, Program Administrator, attended an all-sites meeting in Georgetown to discuss the Department's implementation of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP).  Over the course of two days, our staff outlined where Florida is with implementation and discussed strategies for further expansion and sustainability.  More information about the Georgetown JJSIP can be found here.

Legislative Update

On Wednesday, Legislative Affairs Director Jon Menendez attended the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) quarterly meeting in Largo. Jon presented the Chapter 985 revisions, detention cost share and touched on Medicaid and BHOS issues. The engaging conversation went well and garnered a lot of feedback. Denny Clark from  Staff Development also made a presentation at the meeting. 

Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs Marcus Smith toured the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County with Griffin Kolchakian from the Governor’s office yesterday. As you can see by the picture, Marcus and Griffin were two of the tallest persons to tour the facility in some time. Both men were able to see first-hand the good work that Pace is doing to mold young girls into brilliant young women. 


MIS Kudos


Vicki Bradford, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Northwood Shared Resource Center, shared with me her appreciation for  the service of Olu Oyewole on the Executive Director Search Committee. Her letter is included below. Thank you Olu for your valuable service on this committee.




Detention Update

The youth at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center received a special visit last week from Tampa Bay Rays rookie sensation Chris Archer. Chris, who was an at-risk kid himself, spends a lot of his time giving back to his community and tries to put kids on the right track for success. The youth were really touched by what he had to say and proved to be very inspirational to the students at the facility. 

I would like to like spend a moment highlighting some of the great work that is being done at the Pasco Regional Detention Center. Inside the cold hard walls of the facility houses a community where laughter is allowed, mistakes are coached and tools are provided. The officers on the second shift at the facility work closely with the residents while developing facility led groups which focus on the respect of others as well as respect of self. With the hard work of facility staff and youth, the walls have become alive with expression, hope and understanding and we are proud to share in their accomplishments below: 

A hand-painted mural is being created in one of the rooms to help a pregnant youth through a traumatic experience which will limit the trauma on her unborn child. 




The youth holding the fish seen here satisfies her need for instant gratification and watching a youth capture a fish in their hands opens a new avenue to teach life skills. 





Based on trauma informed care, inside-outside the box therapy is currently being conducted where families are invited to observe the sessions. These sessions offer grief counseling which allows the youth to write a letter and let it go. 





The Pasco RJDC continues to reach out to the local community to provide extra avenues for the families and youth we serve, and as the pictures above conclude, our efforts are working.


With the retirement of Superintendent Eddie Roberts, Assistant Superintendent Ida Burns has been appointed as acting Superintendent. With Ida’s thirty years of experience in working with delinquent youth, I am certain that the great work will continue at this facility. Please join me in extending congratulations to Acting Superintendent Ida Burns!




Probation Update



I would like to express my extreme gratitude to JPO Renee Westmoreland from Circuit 1 for going the extra mile to help one of her assigned youth. The child came into the system through the local Teen Court. During the course of her initial intake with the child, Renee found that the youth’s family lived in a trailer with little or no furniture and no set income. She took it upon herself to contact a rental company in Ft. Walton Beach who agreed to donate furniture that they had originally planned to give away. Renee and the child drove the thirty plus miles from Crestview twice to pick up the furniture and bring it to the family. In addition, Renee drove the youth to her first GED class and picked her up after school and took her home. The extraordinary effort shows just one example of our JPOs going above and beyond as they do every day on the job. I would like to thank Renee for all she has done to help this family get back on their feet. 

Last Saturday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq was the guest speaker at the Eden Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Ft. Myers. Lut promoted our Roadmap to System Excellence and the continued efforts by our agency to reduce juvenile delinquency through reform efforts, prevention, and intervention. The audience consisted of youth, families and church members who garnered much feedback in the conversation. Church leader Eddy Prophete translated the conversation into Creole, and extended his appreciation to the Department on our efforts to reduce juvenile crime.

Also last Saturday in Circuit 20,  Juvenile Probation Officer Shana Feren and several youth completed a community service project. The youth painted benches at Barron Park in La Belle, FL.  Thank you to JPO Feren’s husband who is a painter and assisted with directing the painting project and teaching a valuable skill that may help in the future. The project could have not been completed without the generous donations from Xcel Painting, Inc. They graciously donated paints and materials.


On Monday, Senior JPO Tammy Wallace from Circuit 18 coordinated the National Safety Council’s Juvenile Offender Life Training (JOLT) Program for probation youth in south Brevard County to complete their court requirements. This four hour class is designed to help youth make better life decisions about drugs, alcohol and peer associations. A total of sixteen youth attended the class and successfully completed the course work.  JPOS Patti Gressett stepped up and provided transportation for one of the youth.


Prevention Update

The Office of Prevention traveled the state again this week for their Community Conversation Road Tour series. On Thursday, the team was in Milton at the United Way of Santa Rosa County for a spirited conversation concerning what resources are needed in the community and what DJJ could do to help. The United Way served as the primary sponsor of the event providing the facility space and other resources. The next Community Conversation will be held next Tuesday at the Palmer Munroe Community Center here in Tallahassee. 


Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell negotiated with the Community Smiles Dental Clinic in Miami to provide free dental services to the youth in our care on Wednesday. Due to the high cost of dental services, many families are unable to afford necessary dental care for their children, and this new partnership will enable many of our youth to receive this essential care as we strive to promote better health. 

Over the summer, staff from the Office of Prevention provided grant money and assistance for the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Summer Youth Program. The program offered information and activities for youth in the area ages 6-16 at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. During the program, the youth created a poster pictured left to show their thanks and appreciation to our Department for offering the grant money to allow them the opportunity to attend this program. During the four-week long event, at-risk youth learned about bullying prevention, social skills development and health and safety instruction. 

Last Saturday, Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie spoke on a criminal justice panel at the Unity in the Community Rally in Orlando at Evans High School. The purpose of this rally was to enlighten youth and educate them on cyber bullying, education and job opportunities and personal growth and development.


SkillPro Learning Management System

The DJJ Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) is currently developing a new, expanded, online learning management system called SkillPro, which will replace the CORE online training system in January 2014. SkillPro is a high value learning tool for state and provider staff and features dynamic, engaging content designed for diverse learning styles.


SkillPro is an important step toward fulfilling the SD&T mission to cultivate the skills and knowledge of the juvenile justice workforce in both state-run and contracted facilities. It supports a culture of continual improvement in the care and services we provide to troubled youth.


SkillPro is a cost-effective, DJJ-owned system. In the long term, SkillPro will enable the Department to better allocate resources to develop the professional skills of the staff that directly serves our youth and communities.


For more information, please visit the SkillPro webpage at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/services/support/staff-development/skillpro. If you have questions and/or comments, please send them to SD&T via SkillPro@djj.state.fl.us.


Davis Productivity Awards


The deadline for all new nominations for the 2013 Prudential Financial-Davis Productivity Awards Program (PruDPA) is September 30, 2013.  Please take time to nominate a co-worker, supervisor, team of employees, or yourself. Nomination forms can be accessed at:




Scroll down the list of agency names and click on DJJ and begin completing the online form. Please contact Morrison King at 850-717-2660 or Morrison.king@djj.state.fl.us , if you have any questions.


Quality Improvement Update

The Bureau of Quality Improvement (QI) completed peer certification trainings throughout the State of Florida in the spring and summer months. The QI Certified Reviewer trainings were designed for management, supervisory, and/or other experienced employees to become certified peers on the annual QI reviews. Each certified peer training was held over two days and was conducted by quality improvement review specialists and/or program administrators. All peers were previously trained in Motivational Interviewing and utilized those skills during the QI Certified Reviewer training. The training tested each peer on their writing ability and a written examination was required to successfully become a peer.

In total, the Bureau of Quality Improvement trained 97 new Certified Reviewers. During the Spring trainings, newly trained Certified Reviewers included 23 Community Supervision staff, 1 Day Treatment staff, 7 Detention staff, 17 Residential staff, and 10 Department staff. During the Summer trainings, newly trained Certified Reviewers included 9 Community Supervision staff, 6 Day Treatment staff, 16 Detention staff, 5 Residential staff, and 3 Department staff. Additional QI Certified Reviewer trainings are being planned and the Department welcomes new and future QI Certified Reviewers to participate on our annual reviews.      


Training Rule and Policy Revisions




The Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) is updating Rule 63H of the Florida Administrative Code and policy FDJJ 1520. A revision workshop on policy FDJJ 1520 will be held on Monday, September 16, 2013, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at DJJ Headquarters in the Alexander Training Room. A rule development workshop was held on August 20, 2013. For further information, please email Artavia Parrish or call her at (850) 717-2815.


Operation SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) Be Scam Smart Workshops



Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Department of Financial Services is hosting Be Scam Smart workshops, free workshops for seniors, their families and caregivers. The Be Scam Smart workshops are part of CFO Atwater’s Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) initiative that he launched in May. The free workshops teach seniors how to stop a scam, how a scam works, how to avoid identity theft and much more. 



For more information and to register, please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SAFE. 


If you have questions or would like to submit a request for a workshop in your city, please contact me at 850-413-2854 or iris.collier@myfloridacfo.com.