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Secretary's Message

December 27, 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


All DJJ employees must have a performance evaluation completed for the rating period ending December 31, 2013 (the period covers 4/1/13 – 12/31/13).  The Department of Management Services has encouraged all agencies to have their evaluations completed by January 31, 2014.

After you have completed the evaluations (submitted and acknowledged by the employee) you may begin to enter 1 - 3 job specific expectations for the period January 1, 2014 – June 30, 2014, using the SMART methodology; there are two agency expectations that are pre-populated for this rating cycle.  I also encourage you to have this done by January 31, 2014, to ensure that employees are continuously covered by a performance management plan. 

Please reference the Performance Management Supervisor or Rater’s Guide.

If you have any questions, please contact Sylvia Baker in the Bureau of Personnel (850-) 717-2652. 

General Council Update

For the third consecutive year, in lieu of exchanging holiday gifts, the employees of the Orlando Division of the General Counsel’s office each donated money to support Canine Companions for Independence. This year’s donation was made in honor of DJJ’s therapy dogs, Justice and Oliver. 

Left to Right (Natalia Kirchner, Jenny Crevier, Bill Nelson, Lou Ellen Combs, Kywa Hammond)

 Probation Update

Circuit 4 Probation staff held a community awareness night  with the intention of hosting night of reflection; the staff was pleasantly surprised when, while preparing, it turned into a night of giving. The staff acquired food boxes and baskets and ended up collecting items for the area’s needy families. SJPOs Natashia Swindler and Ben Fleming, Reform Specialist Donna Clayton and JPOs Paula Johnson and Dwane Barton began the program speaking about community awareness and National HIV/AIDS month. Later, each of the families received a food box to help with their holiday season. Special thanks to Secretary Specialist Debbie Sisk for her massive donation. 

Circuit 4 staff in Clay County took part in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program to help the less fortunate in their community. This program targets children in needy homes and designates them as angels. This year, DJJ sponsored three children between the ages of 7 and 12 and ensured they will each have a wonderful Christmas. In addition to donating gifts, Circuit 4 donated three amazing Christmas food boxes for their families, which will be distributed later this month. 

I would like to extend my thanks to Circuit 17 Probation staff who donated 75 items for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Holiday Toy Drive in Hollywood. Our JPOs and probationers collected 95% of the donations given this year. Such a special way to give back to the community - great job! 

Reform Specialist from Circuit 20, Lut Clarcq was a guest speaker at the Youth Resource Center on December 19, 2013. She addressed community stakeholders in Collier County, and Law Enforcement Officers. She presented the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence and the continued success of Civil Citation in Collier County. Sgt. Thomas Wedlock expressed his appreciation, writing:

Thank you so much for your presentation and the PowerPoint!! The information that you provided was great… and extremely well received!! I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well!! 

Thanks again, Tom

Last Friday, Chief Probation Officer Cassandra Evans and the Circuit 17 PAT team presented a collection of much-needed toiletry items to the Henderson Behavioral Health-Safe Haven Homeless Shelter. This shelter provides accommodation for 51 men and women until they can find a stable home, and our probation team collected more than 25 items. 

JPO Shana Feren from Circuit 20 worked with Lee County school administrators to conduct a community service project at Upthegrove Elementary and First Baptist Church over Christmas break where youth had the opportunity to earn 200 service hours. 

Belinda Flavien, the mother of Antiwon Herron, said that Antiwon had been asking for a bike and a pair of Nike shoes for two years.  With seven kids in the household and inconsistent employment, Ms. Flavien and her husband have not been able to afford these items. She spoke to a few charities and her church about having the items donated to them, but they told her that the need/lists were long and it was very unlikely they would be able to assist.  Ms. Flavien expressed her disappointment to JPO Robin Lindsey a few days before Christmas. In a last minute effort, JPO Lindsey organized a fundraiser; with the support of several generous Circuit 13 DJJ employees, Ms. Flavien was gifted with a bike and a pair of Nike shoes for her son. Ms. Flavien was overwhelmed that people she didn’t even know would extend a hand to help her and she expressed abundant gratitude to all.  

On December 20, 2013, JPO Dekesha Davis and SJPO Steven Battieste partnered with Riverview High School of Sarasota Needy Family Foundation to provide three families with children under DJJ supervision with a Christmas meal. With donated gift cards from the school foundation, JPO Davis and SJPO Battieste purchased food items to make the holidays season memorable for these families. 

On Saturday, December 14, DJJ probation youth participated in a community service project at Gulfport Beach. JPOs Faye Cokeley and Gregory Wade transported the eight youth to the beach and JPOs Pierre Connor and Troi Owens and JPOS Yvonne Ortiz helped supervise the youth during the three-hour clean-up effort.    

Residential Update

On Dec. 13, a resident of Escambia Boys’ Base (EBB) received his certificate as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate from Commanding Officer A.D. Dean, of the Pensacola Naval Air Training Technical Center. Located on a U.S. Naval Base and operated by AMIKids, Inc., Escambia Boys’ Base, formerly state operated and known as Pensacola Boys’ Base, is a moderate-risk halfway house program for males, ages 14 to 18.  

The program incorporates active military personnel from all branches of the Armed Services, who provide one-on-one mentoring, as well as group involvement and day-to-day contact.  Youth who are at least 17 years of age and who meet academic requirements are provided the opportunity to attend the Naval Technical Training School located at Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS).

This resident graduated from the NAS Military Technical School’s ABF Course. The ABF course trains sailors to perform the duties of an apprentice below deck and flight deck crew members. Upon graduation, these sailors have obtained the knowledge to assist in the operations and maintenance of the aviation fuel systems. ABFs operate and perform maintenance on JP-5 pumps, filters, tanks, hoses, and related equipment, ashore and afloat. Most of the work in this rating is performed outdoors on the deck of aircraft carriers or below the main deck in JP-5 pump rooms.

The EBB resident was the only honorary civilian student in his graduating class and he ranked in the top percentage.  He was also the 94th resident from EBB to graduate from the Military Technical School at NAS.  He had outstanding reports from his instructors and military mentors.  The resident, who is 18 years old, also earned his high school diploma and says he plans to look for employment at an airport near his home or maybe work on an oil rig.

He stated that he spoke with his mother following the graduation and she is proud of his accomplishment.  When asked what this accomplishment means to him, he replied, “It makes me feel like I am bound for success...it is one of the most beneficial things I have accomplished.”

Such a great example of the potential our youth have to succeed! 

The youth and staff of Central Pasco Girls Academy (CPGA)—a moderate-risk program for females, ages 13 to 18, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.—enjoyed their first yoga class last week. 

According to Facility Administrator Kirstie Naoom, “It was great and all the girls participated with little prompting.  We all had a hard time keeping our balance as we are all beginners but soon that will change. Treatment staff and the yoga instructor cannot wait to see the effects of the class on the environment.” 

The weekend before Christmas, the staff and young men of the Walton Youth Development Center (WYDC), a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, that is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, delivered toys that were created by the WYDC youth to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in Niceville, which serves abused children from Okaloosa and Walton counties. The WYDC includes the Pre-Apprentice Certificate Training (PACT) curriculum taught by Home Builders Institute (HBI). The young men in the PACT program at WYDC made the toys and helped the staff deliver them to the CAC.  The PACT is an industry-validated construction curriculum that is one of only three curricula recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

On Dec. 4, the PACT students began working on the toys to be donated.  When they first began the project, the students just had a standard design plan to build the cars. However, as the work progressed some of the students created their own design plans. 

According to Angela Forward, program manager/regional career services coordinator for HBI PACT WYDC, “At first as the doll houses were built, the students were just going to paint each one according to that design’s plan.  Then suddenly, it was as if a light bulb went off and the creativity began. The students built and painted three doll houses and 20 cars and trucks for the children served by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.

(L-R):  Julie Hurst, CEO with the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center; Will Siegal, LHMC with the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center; and Beth Robertson, victim advocate with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

During the annual Holiday Staff Meeting held on Dec. 6, in Chipley, the North West Residential and Commitment Management staff mixed a little pleasure with business by creating holiday placemats for the giRls of DOVE Academy to enjoy during their meals on Christmas day.  The theme of the placemats is “Merry & Bright”—what makes the holidays merry and bright for the artist.  

Shown above (kneeling, L-R): Contract Manager Linda Williams, Program Monitor April Denney, General Services Liaison Kelvin Sanders, Regional Director Mary Mills.  (standing, L-R): Program Monitor Kathy Parrish, Program Monitor Greg Brown, Commitment Management Supervisor Stuart Wolcott, Administrative Assistant Sarah Hollar, Residential Services Natosha Faul, SMAII Lori Jernigan, SMAII Jeanine Rhodes, Contract Manager Linda Lynn, Commitment Manager April Lewis, Commitment Manager Sean Dorsey and Program Monitor Dwight Poole.  Not shown in the photo were Commitment Management Supervisor Suzanne Chambers and Program Monitor Garrett Tucker.

The following is an email message received from a current employee of The Boys & Girls Club of Tabula Rasa, which provides Boys & Girls Club programming to youth in Twin Oaks residential facilities.  The program is based on the Targeted Re-Entry Concept, providing re-entry services to youth by introducing them to Boys & Girls Club programming while in the facilities. After they are released, the youth are paired up with local clubs to help in providing support for them to stay out of trouble.

Dec 18, 2013

I spent most of the day today gathering supplies for our 21st Century programs.  My last stop was Walmart on Apalachee Parkway. After SEVERAL HOURS of hunting down each item, I had quite a buggy full.  As I strolled up to the checkout counter, the teller was amazed at the amount of loot in the buggy.  She said, “Someone is going to have a great Christmas.”

I told her no, I worked for a Boys and Girls Club at a DJJ facility and that this was supplies for our after school program.  She then said, “I know all about DJJ programs.”

I continued with some conversation and said that these supplies, and our after school programs help kids stay busy during the day and that helps them stay out of trouble.  She replied again, “Oh I know.”

In my foot-in-mouth blindness, I asked her if she had worked at a DJJ before because she sure knew a lot about them.  She said, “No I had to go to several programs growing up.  I went to one in Graceville twice.”

I then realized, this is one of “Our Girls.”  I then told her that I worked with DOVE and the supplies she’s ringing up would be going to the girls there.  Her face lit up and she was so excited to be helping me.  I could tell she took pride in her stay at DOVE and wasn’t embarrassed a bit.  In fact, as she was ringing up some planting soil, she said, “I know this is going to the greenhouse.”

And she said she tried things there that she never would have had the opportunity to experience at home, like horses and canoeing.  She named off several people she really appreciated.  The ones I remember were Joni, Jean, Nicole, and Amy—from education.  She also said she wouldn’t be where she’s at today without her stay at DOVE.

This type of thing may happen to you’ll regularly but it was a new and great encounter for me.  Though we may not realize the impact we’re making on our kids right now; just know that we are.  I hope this makes you feel better about the work you’re doing.  Things get tough and frustrating at times but if we make a difference in a few kids’ lives, we win.  …she’s got a steady job at Walmart and seems to be doing very well.

Here’s to winning.

Detention Update

Last Friday, DJJ participated in a Resource Fair at the Potash Corporation in White Springs. Due to plant closures, about 350 employees will be laid off, so the State of Florida pitched in to provide employees with “one stop services” at the plant’s conference center. DJJ staff Rodney Johnson, Captain (right), and Brandon Caul, Corporal (left), from the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center and John Hancock, GOCII (center), from Circuit 3 provided the affected individuals with information on State of Florida job opportunities and other assistance that is available to them. Workforce services, mobile units for ACCESS and health care, as well as mental health and educational and technical training programs, were present in an all-out effort to connect those employees in need with services to assist them during this difficult time.