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Secretary's Message

December 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, both DJJ employees and those who work for our contractors, and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase 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

Today, I had the opportunity to watch a stupendous presentation on Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP) by JPOS Lana Wilcox and JPO Tracy Magwood, JPO. Thank you, ladies; it was quite impressive! 

The Department of Juvenile Justice in Circuit 11 is targeting at-risk youths in the community, and they are doing a great job, not only helping those already in our care, but also diverting youth from the juvenile justice system. They have partnered with several agencies, organizations and community leaders to present information to youth, parent and interested members of the public to provide the tools necessary to empower our state’s youth to make positive decisions.

A key component of STEP is the Parent Advisory Board and Parent Empowerment Group, which meet monthly and weekly respectively. Different topics are discussed advisory board and expert speakers  are scheduled for presentations to not only provide information but offer support and resources.

 Legislative Update 

This week marked an abbreviated committee week in the Florida, but our legislative team, Jon Menendez and Marcus Smith have remained in communication with members. They had two meetings with lawmakers this week as they continue to finalize the draft language for our chapter 985 general bill.

DJJ Hosts Flu Vaccination Clinic

It's National Influenza Vaccination Week, and the DJJ headquarters office made it even easier for employees to protect themselves from the flu.

Each year, the flu kills more than 36,000 Americans year and sends another 200,000 to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine as the best defense against the flu.

Children are among the groups most likely to have serious flu complications. As a child-serving agency, it is imperative that our staff remain healthy, and the flu shot is proven to be safe and effective in preventing the flu. At DJJ, we should always strive to set positive examples for the youth and communities we serve, and remind Floridians that being healthy is critical to helping others. If you haven't gotten the flu vaccine, it's not too late!

For more information about influenza and the influenza vaccine, visit www.flu.gov.

Prevention Update

2013 Champion of Hope Award recipients Pastor Gary and  Josephine Montgomery from Living Stones International were profiled in a news article about their decision to move into a home located in the Griffin Heights neighborhood in Tallahassee to operate their community ministry. The Montgomerys, described as “urban missionaries,” operate a prison, ex-offender and family ministry. Thanks to the hard work of two dozen community volunteers from the First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, the Montgomerys now have facility to use as both their residence and home base for their community ministry. According to the article, the neighborhood “is notorious across the city as a drug- and gang-infested area, complete with high unemployment, devastating poverty and the largest percentage of ex-offenders in Tallahassee.” I’m sure their presence will have a tremendous impact on the area’s at-risk youth and their families. To view the article, click here

Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris is spending the holiday season volunteering at Macy’s in Tallahassee’s Governor’s Square Mall with the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s annual Believe Campaign to encourage kids of all ages to write letters to Santa Claus to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Macy’s Department Stores across the country are encouraging kids to drop their stamped letters (addressed to Santa Claus at the North Pole, of course) in specially designed Santa mailboxes at Macy’s Department Store. Macy’s will donate $1 per letter, up to $1 million, to Make-A-Wish. This year marks the sixth year of Macy’s Believe campaign benefitting Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. A wish experience can be a pivot point in the course of a child’s treatment, making them feel better and in some cases, even helping them get better. A wish-come-true strengthens families, provides happiness and inspiration and helps create strong community bonds.    

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Audrey “Pat” McGhee served as a volunteer guest judge last Friday at the Academy Prep Center Science Fair in St. Petersburg. The fair showcased more than 70 inventions created by students in grades 6-8. The goal of elementary science is to provide practice for students to use inquiry skills to analyze and solve problems. Use of inquiry skills encourages students to think creatively and actively engages them in science on a variety of levels. Practicing the scientific method, through completing a science research project, is a powerful and authentic way for students to internalize this knowledge and to practice the process skills of science.

Probation Update

Each year, the Office of Probation’s Director of Policy and Programming, Jeannie Becker-Powell and her family, host a Christmas party at their home and ask their guests to bring a toy or non-perishable food item to be donated to a worthy charity. Jeannie held her party on Sunday and as you can see from the picture, they amassed an assortment of gifts which will be donated to the participants of the Children of Inmates Program who, in addition to receiving gifts, will be treated to a warm meal and holiday entertainment. The gifts will be presented on Monday at the New Birth Tabernacle of Praise during an event hosted by the Department and Living Stones International.

To learn more about this event, please contact Kara Ahearn at Kara.Ahearn@djj.state.fl.us or (850) 717-2580.

The Circuit 1 Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) is now fully operational and available as a resource for law enforcement officers from Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. The Circuit 1 JAC was originally discussed at a Civil Citation workgroup in Escambia County and the Department obtained a grant to fund the JAC’s security efforts through October 2014 when the responsibility would be turned over to local law enforcement.   The grant also provided funding to purchase a LiveScan device, and on November 15, Allied Barton was awarded a contract to provide security. Local law enforcement agencies, school officials, community partners, Bay Regional Detention Center, North Region Residential Services, Circuit 1 Probation Services and many others worked together in an unconventional way to see this project to the full implementation phase.

In addition, Circuit 14 Juvenile Assessment Center is now fully operational and available as a resource for law enforcement officers from the six counties (Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington). The Circuit 14 JAC was originally a priority project of the Bay County Juvenile Justice Council in 2010. The Bay County Sheriff's Office donated the LiveScan device/equipment to the JAC project. The Bay School District donated an unused portable classroom to the Circuit 14 JAC. Local law enforcement agencies, school officials, Bay County Juvenile Justice Council, community partners, JAC Implementation Team, JAC Advisory Board, Bay Regional Detention Center, North Region Residential Services, Circuit 14 Probation Services and many others also worked together in an unconventional way to see this project to the full implementation phase. These exciting projects show the collaborative effort of many community and government partners.

Last Saturday, JPOs Kimberly Dandeneau and Pierre Conner from Circuit 6 hosted the Wildwood Community Service Project in which six of the youth in their care earned valuable community service hours. The youth participated in washing state vehicles, raking leaves, removing dead palm leaves from the area and removing trash in a storage shed. 

JPOs Patricia Johnston, Tonya Posey, Melanie Phelps, Linda Muisener, Michelle Reinke, Richard Christie and JPOS Melissa Fuller from Circuit 6 worked with youth at the HOPE Youth Ranch last Friday to create holiday cards, ornaments and pictures to celebrate the season. The girls at the ranch are in foster care and have very few opportunities to see their families during the holidays. The team of JPOs was able to bring joy to these unique young ladies through this event.

Reform Specialist Khalilah Daniels from Circuit 13 participated in the Hillsborough County Healthy Teen Network Resource Fair last Thursday. The event was an opportunity for community resources and agencies to come together and exchange information. More than 200 participants registered to attend this event and Khalilah presented our Roadmap to System Excellence with the agencies in attendance and received a warm reception. 

South Probation Regional Director, Vanessa Hargray and the entire leadership team from Circuit 17 was in Tallahassee this week to complete the second portion of their Leadership Staff Retreat for a training session entitled “Positive Accountability in the Wake of Change.” This training is part of a pilot for a new training opportunity called “Managing Change.” Staff learned about the constructive management of change and ways to strengthen the circuit management team and lead by example. 

Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson from Circuit 9 attended the “Un-cHaInED Youth Intervention Session,” sponsored by the Reverend Grace Worthy, last Thursday. The guest speaker was Detective Daniel Jordan of the Ormond Beach Police Department who talked to the youth and their families in attendance about his role as a detective, while Melinda spoke on the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence

Detention Update

At a small ceremony last Friday, Ida Burns was promoted to Superintendent of the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Major Burns has more than 31 years of service with HRS and DJJ. She has served at the Pasco facility since 1991, where she has held numerous positions, most recently serving as the Assistant Superintendent. Ida has demonstrated her unique leadership abilities in these positions that resulted in her promotions and has an excellent reputation with our DJJ partners. We look forward to continued contributions and progress from Pasco RJDC under Major Burns’ leadership. 

For the last 11 years, Pinellas RJDC Superintendent Monica Gray has participated in the Great American Teach In. This year Monica was extra busy visiting with students from five schools in Pinellas County where she taught students ranging from fourth to eleventh grade about the criteria for working with our agency. Monica shared a typical day in detention and talked about criminal offenses that could result in detention. 

In addition to Monica’s great work, JDOs Bridgett Letthand, April Walker, Anastaisa Stubbins and Angenette Williams also participated in the Teach In. They spoke at Bay Vista Elementary and Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Pinellas County and told students about the history of detention and the juvenile detention process. They also shared how to avoid juvenile detention and the services provided through detention.

The youth participating in the art group at Volusia Detention are having a great time during the holiday season!

The South Region hosted a Superintendent’s Meeting this week where newly appointed regional staff were welcomed and introduced. Staff also discussed accomplishments from this past year as well as goals for 2014. Other topics of discussion included the launch  of SkillPro, and reform efforts including the therapy dog program and installation of greenhouses at the detention facilities. 

Juvenile Detention Officers are often tasked with very challenging duties during a shift.   Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Officer(s) Leroy Johnson and Diannah Williams recently received an assignment that required great sensitivity. A DCF youth at a residential program was granted permission to visit his aunt at Hospice and was transported from his program via the ITN to Duval Detention.  Officer(s) Johnson and Williams as well as probation staff worked very closely with the Hospice staff to make sure the youth and his aunt had an opportunity to spend time together.  As difficult as this was for the youth, he was accompanied by detention and probation officers that made sure he was as comfortable as possible; and that his time with his aunt was meaningful.  By working together, detention, residential and probation staff were able to  meet this family’s needs in such a compassionate manner.

Tyson Elliott, Human Trafficking Director for the Department, provided Human Trafficking Training for officers at Pinellas Detention on Thursday.  The training educated the officers on the signs to look for that may indicate a youth is a victim of human trafficking.

Residential Update

On Dec. 10,, 2013, three young men at Escambia Boys’ Base received new laptop computers, courtesy of The Able Trust’s Florida High School High Tech (HSHT) program and Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast, Pensacola. To compete for the laptop computers, residents wrote an essay that was submitted to the board of directors at The Able Trust.  Students from all counties in Florida were given the opportunity to participate and 35 laptops were awarded, with Escambia County receiving three and all three being awarded to Escambia Boys’ Base residents. The residents will be able to use these laptops to continue their educations and to assist them in looking for jobs. This is a wonderful achievement for these young men, and I am so proud!

Florida HSHT is designed to provide high school students the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers. HSHT links youth to a broad range of academic, career development and experiential resources and experiences that will enable them to meet the demands of the 21st Century workforce. In Florida, it is a program of The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Governor’s Alliance for the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation.

Vanessa Wicker from the Office of Residential Services and Bridget Goodrich with G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently conducted two Impact of Crime (IOC) facilitator training classes, three days each, for residential programs in the south and north regions.  The class taught in the south region was held at the Okeechobee Youth Development Center just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Students of the class included Jasmine Anderson (G4S), Sean Bailey (YSI), Jennifer Breshahan (G4S), Aja Cromedy (G4S), Sidoney Dehaney (YSI), David Dolyak (G4S), Brittany Georges (G4S), Reginald Grant (G4S), Marcia Lee (YSI), Emery Moore (G4S), Valerie Prince (AMIkids), Manuel Sanchez (G4S), Tarwanna Shaw (G4S), Tami Shiltz (G4S), and Zebbra Walker (YSI). 

Shown here are the students who attended the IOC in Okeechobee.  BACK ROW (L-R):  Aja Cromedy, Marcia Lee, Manuel Sanchez, Emery Moore, Sean Bailey, Brittany Georges, Jennifer Breshahan, Valarie Prince, and David Dolyak. FRONT ROW (L-R):  Jasmine Anderson, Sidoney Dehaney, Zebbra Walker, Tarwanna Shaw, Tami Shiltz, and Reginald Grant

The north region class, taught last week, was held at the Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility.  Participants included Lonnie Bennett (YSI), Javonte Crenshaw (G4S), David Dolyak (G4S), Linda Johnson (YSI), Stacey King (G4S), Keisha Martinez (G4S), Angela Mills (DJJ-Quality Improvement), Bernard Smith (YSI), and Darrell Stafford (YSI).  This class participated in the Impact Of Crime curriculum and is part of the “Train the Trainer Model” for the IOC. 

Shown here are those who participated in the IOC training in Daytona Beach.  BACK ROW (L-R):  David Dolyak, Stacey King, Angela Mills, Bernard Smith, Lonnie Bennett, and Javonte Crenshaw.  FRONT ROW (L-R):  Linda Johnson, Darrell Stafford and Keisha Martinez.

David Dolyak, who participated in both training events, is working toward qualification to be an IOC Train the Trainer. He has four years of experience with G4S and is currently working as the scheduling and fidelity specialist.  Previously, he worked at Riverside Academy, Palmetto Youth Academy, and Central Pasco Girls Academy where he served as a case manager.

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.  

SkillPro Update

The SkillPro learning management system is on schedule to go live in January 2014. However, a few issues have come up during system testing that make it necessary to revise certain SkillPro task dates, including the system stress test for all users. Revised SkillPro task dates will be announced as soon as they are available.

What is the system stress test? It’s a way to ensure SkillPro has the capacity to accommodate all users at one time, and all state and provider staff will be asked to participate. This and other useful information can be found under “Frequently Asked Questions” on the SkillPro webpage. If you have a question that isn’t on the FAQ, please send it to SkillPro@djj.state.fl.us.

The termination date for CORE is unaffected. CORE will be entirely unavailable as of the close of business on December 31, 2013.

Training coordinators: Entry of users into SkillPro has been postponed until January. SkillPro user entry demonstration sessions scheduled for December 12 -13 have been postponed. Revised dates have not been set, and are not anticipated to be announced before December 30. For an updated training coordinator checklist, please visit the SkillPro webpage.

On behalf of the Office of Staff Development and Training, we extend our thanks to the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) for spreading the word to their members about SkillPro. The FJJA has been a great partner in communicating SkillPro updates to provider training coordinators, and the FJJA homepage features a hyperlink to SkillPro. We appreciate your strong partnership in sharing this important information with your members!

IOC Incident Management

Each day, the program areas review the reported incidents and determine how the incidents are processed, i.e. closed or assigned as Special Instructions, Program Review, or Administrative Review.  Beginning December 9, 2013, the initial review of all incidents will be the responsibility of the Incident Operations Center (IOC).  The IOC will determine if an incident is closed or assigned for a management review or OIG investigation. 

If an incident is referred to the program area for a management review, the program area will determine the appropriate level of review needed to effectively respond to the incident while efficiently managing their resources.  There are three levels of management reviews.   The definitions below are provided as general guidelines to reflect the distinctions between the various levels.  Factors to be considered in the assignment of a review level are as follows: severity of the incident; impact on safety and security of staff and youth; DJJ program area involved; history of prior incidents; anticipated time required to complete the review; and program management discretion.  An incident may be reassigned a different level of review at any point based on new or previously undisclosed information.

Management Review Level I - Review of incidents that are evaluated as minor and/or administrative in nature and do not appear to have impact on youth or staff safety.  The incident can generally be resolved by gathering reports, verification of corrective action, and/or and tracking of external activities, i.e. DCF and court proceedings.  Resolution of these incidents does not require a facility site visit or formal interviews with youth or staff. 

Management Review Level II - Review of incidents that meet one or more of the following criteria:  not evaluated as severe in nature; may involve issues of safety and security of youth and staff, but do not appear to be indicative of unaddressed systemic issues; may cause interruption of normal program/facility operations or procedures; precipitates a crisis.  Resolution of these incidents may include an on-site visit to the program/facility, formal interviews with staff and/or youth, analysis of related documents, such as, policies and procedures, logbooks, and review of videos (if available), etc.  A Level II Management Review report will include a synopsis of the incident, overview of actions taken during the review, conclusions and findings and final corrective actions taken. 

Management Review Level III - Review of incidents that are evaluated as severe in nature and  that meet one or more of the following criteria: evident of a crisis situation; involve serious breaches in the safety and security of youth and staff; or are indicative of unaddressed systemic issues.  The following incident types require a Level III review, when not accepted by the Office of Inspector General: escape; falsification of records or documents; non-consensual youth-on-youth contact; and staff-on-youth sexual contact.  Other incident types may be assigned for a Level III review at the discretion of the program area.  Resolution of these incidents require an on-site visit to the program/facility, formal interviews with staff and/or youth, and more intensive analyses of related documents, such as, policies and procedures, log books, and review of videos (if available), etc. 

Until the CCC system is upgraded, the following assignments will be utilized when conducting reviews:  Special Instructions assignments are considered a Level I Management Reviews, Program Reviews are considered Level II Management Reviews; and Administrative Reviews are considered Level III Management Reviews.   

Once the management reviews are completed by the program areas, they will be routed through the IOC and a quality check will be completed by the IOC Analyst to ensure consistency and needed corrective actions have been undertaken. 

Happy Retirement

Catherine Chandler, the Department’s Recruitment and Selection Coordinator within the Bureau of Personnel, will be leaving her DJJ family for a life of leisure after 38 years of dedicated service to the state of Florida effective December 19, 2013. Catherine started her career with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS); now known as the Department of Children and Families and has devoted 19 years of her career to the success of the Department of Juvenile Justice.  Her vast knowledge of Human Resources and DJJ history will truly be missed.

We thank you Catherine and best wishes on your life’s next journey!