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Secretary's Message

July 20, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week was a full and productive time for our agency and providers as we continued our work in serving Florida’s at-risk youth and families.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

As always, 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.


Christina K. Daly

DJJ Employee of the Month

It is my great pleasure to recognize SJPO Linda McCray as our DJJ Employee of the Month!  

Circuit 1 SJPO McCray with the Pensacola Probation Office has worked with troubled and delinquent youth for more than sixteen years, serving as a Senior Juvenile Probation Officer with the Department for the last seven years. This puts her in a position to not only influence the lives of our children and their families, but also to influence new, less experienced staff in her unit. 

SJPO McCray has served as a role model for other staff, her children (personal and professional), and the families of the children she serves.  She makes it a daily mission to impact the lives of those around her in a positive manner.  She always has a friendly smile or a kind word for those around her even when she faces difficult tasks and circumstances. The care and compassionate she shows for the youth in her care is limitless and we are fortunate to have her as part of our DJJ team. 

Please join me in congratulating SJPO McCray on this very deserving honor!

We look forward to highlighting our next Employee of the Month in the near future. Our agency and I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending your nominations for the monthly DJJ Employee of the Month Award. You can do so by clicking here.

State Advisory Group Quarterly Meeting

On Tuesday, I traveled to Gainesville to give the welcoming remarks for the quarterly meeting of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) at the Gainesville Police Department. Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie delivered the opening for the meeting. Presentations were delivered by Theda Roberts, Civil Citation Coordinator; the Honorable Lee Haworth, Judge, Juvenile Division, 12th Judicial Circuit, Jeffrey Weisberg, Executive Director, River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding; John Alexander, Reichert House Youth Academy; William Halvosa, Retired Captain, GPD; and Craig Swain, Faith Coordinator, who delivered an update on the DJJ Faith Network initiative. 

Yvonne Woodard, Juvenile Justice Specialist, provided an overview of grants, contracts, and federal updates. SAG members also toured the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center. We would like to thank SAG member and Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones who hosted our meeting at police headquarters. The next SAG meeting will take place on October 15 in Orlando. 

Teacher of the Year Presentation

On Friday, myself along with DJJ Director of Education Julie Orange, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Residential NW Regional Director Mary Mills, and Residential Operations Review Specialist Dwight Poole attended a ceremony at Twin Oaks Academy in Bristol to honor Hope Wilkes, who was a finalist for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award.  Ms. Wilkes has been a multi-grade and multi-course teacher for youth between the ages of 10-13 at Twin Oaks for the past six years.  Ms. Wilkes has the special and at times delicate task of teaching some of the youngest children that enter into our residential programs.  However, she does not falter and remains steadfast in providing the best education and care to help her students realize their potential and achieve great things. She believes it is important to teach using the most innovative and creative approaches to meet the diverse needs of her students. Ms. Wilkes was chosen as one of three finalists by DJJ and the Department of Education out of numerous juvenile justice educators throughout the state of Florida. 

Pictured above (left to right): Secretary Daly, Teacher of the Year finalist Hope Wilkes, and DJJ Director of Education Julie Orange

Probation Update

It is great sadness that I share with you that Circuit 9 SJPO Steve Mizwa, who retired on June 18th after 29 years of service to the state, passed away on July 8th. During his tenure with the agency, Steve held many roles including court liaison, detention screener, intake JPO, DRAI trainer, and civil citation coordinator. For the last several years as Steve’s health began to decline, his co-workers at the Circuit 9 JAC looked out for him on a daily basis and they have struggled this past week with the loss of their dear colleague and friend.  CPO Jill Wells would like to personally thank all of the Circuit 9 staff who have assisted Steve’s family during this difficult time.

I am pleased to announce the appointment of  Assistant Chief Probation Officer Alison Fulford to Chief Probation Officer (CPO) for Circuit 10. Ms. Fulford brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience to the position of Chief after serving as Assistant Chief since 2012. Her previous experience includes the positions of JPO and JPOS in Circuit 10 since 2002. She has been involved in various committees, special assignments and served as a group leader during the implementation of the Georgetown University Crossover Practice Model Program. Ms. Fulford holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University.

Everyone that knows Ms. Fulford recognizes the passion and desire she brings with the ongoing commitment of making a difference as a true child advocate. She holds strong community ties with DJJ stakeholders, partners, and providers.  On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to congratulate CPO Fulford on this well-deserved promotion!  

Manatee County youth DeJohn Childs is a great example of a young man making the most of his second chance with Eckerd’s Project Bridge program.  DeJohn has been participating with Project Bridge since May and has accomplished quite a bit in only a short period of time.  When DeJohn was released from his residential program he did not have transportation, which made it difficult for him to follow-through with his goal of finding a job.  He did not lack for determination though, and walked over 10 miles every day applying for local jobs.  When Project Bridge staff realized DeJohn was walking to all of his appointments they promptly bought him a bicycle which he now uses as his primary transportation.  DeJohn completed pre-employment training, earned a Florida Food Handler’s credential, and has applied for a position at a local McDonald’s during his time with Project Bridge.  Though he is waiting to be hired, DeJohn is learning valuable job skills while volunteering at a local Habitat for Humanity program.  DeJohn and his mentor also recently participated in a “Community Paint Party” in Manatee County, which is a fun event designed to strengthen positive bonds between teenagers in the local community.  Through his incredible focus and motivation DeJohn has created new opportunities for himself while giving back to his community.  In addition to his other accomplishments, DeJohn is also going to play football for his local high school, and program staff purchased him new cleats. This young man has tremendous potential for a very bright future! 

Circuit 14 Technical Assistance Specialist Jessica Gibson attended the goodbye program at the JoAnn Bridges Academy Residential facility on June 30th. The girls performed three dance numbers choreographed by one of the youth at the facility. The staff appreciated the fantastic job that these girls put into the program. It was great to see the girls working as a united team and create such a beautiful program to appreciate their school staff that were leaving.

Probationary youth from Circuit 14 traveled to the Sunshine Riding Trails in Chipley to have a little fun after earning a few valuable community service hours. Kathy from Sunshine quickly welcomed the youth to her facility and then put them straight to work cleaning hooves and grooming horses. These youth learned how to work around horses safely and began to establish a relationship with their horse. The youth then saddled up and learned how to ride the horses through a unique trail ride. Finally, they came back to wash down the horses and put all of the tack away. Each of these youth said that this is one of the best trips they have ever been on.

The Orlando Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) group completed its 13-week group cycle with glowing testimonies from caregivers about the positive impact SNAP has provided to those young men who participated. Additionally, the Gainesville SNAP program is training its final facilitator and will now have three fully trained staff members to facilitate the local SNAP group. The Tallahassee SNAP program will also have two new SNAP trainers following their last training session.

The Girls Initiative in Circuit 13 recently completed an Employability Skills Training Class that was facilitated by Argosy University. The four week class was held each Wednesday between June 16th and July 8th.  Each of the five girls who completed the class were given a folder full of information concerning job searching and employment, a flash drive for their resume, and a certificate of completion. Once completed, the girls were taken on a shopping trip to Chrissy’s Closet to pick out appropriate clothes for job interviews.

I would like to thank the following probation staff members who helped to put this training class together including JPO Jesus Sosa who provided food for the graduation ceremony, Secretary Specialist Charlotte Troche and Reform Specialist Khalilah Daniels who held a bake sale to raise funds to support this class, JPOs Arfinder Johnson and Bernadette Shoats who donated snacks for each class as well as SJPOs Patricia Locker and Ardena Bosley, JPOs Tameka Shoemake, Trisha Zoretich, Angenette Williams, Shelly Tuner and CPO Judy Roysden who got everyone on board to support the Girls Initiative.

DJJ’s contracted Juvenile Programs Manager Woody Hanford from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office accompanied three of our probationary youth to Walt Disney World on July 15th. Wood and one of the youth’s foster parents accompanied the boys as they roamed through the park. The picture to the left shows Woody and the boys viewing Mount Everest, the largest artificial mountain at Disney World. 

Detention Update

The Office of Detention Services would like to thank Kim Ward from the General Counsel’s Office in Tallahassee for assisting in the transportation of therapy puppies to both the Pasco and Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Centers. This particular litter of puppies were scheduled to be euthanized, but because of Kim and our partnership with the Pixel Fund, they were placed into our secure detention foster puppy program. Pictured left is Rally and below is Allie, both ready and anxiously awaiting their trips to the detention centers!  

South Region Detention Services welcomed Jacqui Hagan from the Office of Staff Development and Training for their 3rd Annual Team Building Retreat. Jacqui delivered the Real Colors training, a dynamic workshop experience that provided these team members with the skills to better understand human behavior, uncover motivators that are specific to each temperament, and to improve communication with others. A potluck lunch was provided afterwards as an opportunity for everyone to socialize.

Education Update

Recently, youth from AMIkids Miami Dade North participated in the Annual Service from the Heart-Hearts for Seniors event. The youth spent a day with the residents of the Grey Stone Unity Health and Rehabilitation Center of North Miami.  These students spent the majority of the day socializing with the residents and serving food, followed by gardening and cleaning up. The Grey Stone residents were very happy to spend the day with AMIkids and plan to create an ongoing partnership where students will spend one day a month at the facility.

Five out of the six students who participated in this event will graduate from the program at the end of the month, and three of those five will be taking advantage of a college scholarship opportunity thanks to the support of the Fisher Island Philanthropic fund.

Youth from the AMIkids Miami Dade facility partnered with State Representative Daphne Campbell to volunteer for a free food distribution through Farm Share at Miami Dade College on June 12th. The eight youth who attended were responsible for greeting guests, packing bags with food and distributing them to over 1,000 less fortunate community members. The students went above and beyond by not only distributing food but by helping carry the food to their cars and even to the bus stop.

AMIkids Executive Director Enrique Garcia said, “It’s great to see how our students step up to the challenge when there is a need, I admire and love them for that. Events like this give our students an opportunity to re-identify with the community and understand the importance of giving back.”

AMikids Miami Dade would like to thank State Representative Daphne Campbell for this opportunity. We appreciate her continued support to our mission and for keeping our kids first!

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV)’s Transportation and Mobile Unit came out to the AMIkids Miami Dade facility to provide seven of their students with photo ID and voter registration cards. This service is an ongoing partnership with DHSMV to help provide our youth with a necessary component on their road to successful employment. The Transportation and Mobile Unit will return in July to provide more of our youth with these necessary pieces of identification. AMIkids would like to thank the DHSMV and their Transportation and Mobile Unit for their professionalism and dedication in working with our youth and for their continued support to our mission of keeping kids first.

The United Way of Miami Dade County has selected AMIkids Miami Dade North student Youri A. to become its spokesperson. The United Way will film a documentary on Youri’s life including how AMIkids has made a positive impact on him in separating his troubled past to a bright future. Youri is 18 years old and has already completed the program successfully this past February. Youri chose to re-enroll at AMIkids Miami Dade as a School Board student to take advantage of the Department of Labor Certifications in ServeSafe and Career services. Because of Youri’s strive to continue to better himself, AMIkids Miami Dade North will continue to support Youri and his future endeavors. We are happy that the United Way of Miami Dade County selected and decided to produce a documentary on Youri’s life and how AMIkids Miami Dade North contributed to his success. 

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie, Deputy Manager Marcus Smith, Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III and Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Elizabeth Phillips conducted a community conversation at the New Birth Tabernacle of Praise Church in Tallahassee on July 9th. The focus of the meeting was to share information about prevention services with parents/caregivers, families, community activists, businesses, civic organizations, and faith partners who are working on the front lines to provide greater opportunities for Florida’s youth.  Prevention is working towards building stronger family ties and partnerships throughout our communities to keep our youth out of the juvenile justice system. The team is also enhancing networks to provide more assistance to children and families in need. New Birth Pastor Rudy Ferguson, Sr., welcomed the attendees to his church for the conversation.

Other agencies with representation at the meeting were the Executive Office of the Governor, the Tallahassee Mayor’s Office, the Florida State University, the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Living Stones International, the Florida Department of Corrections and 50 Large.  

Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) Liaison Yvonne Maffia hosted a faith volunteer training with Global Village on June 17th in Hollywood, FL. The purpose of this training was to educate members of the faith community about opportunities to get involved with the Circuit Advisory Boards and DJJ’s Faith Network. This training also gave members of the faith community information needed to assist them in preventing youth from entering the DJJ system or from going deeper into the juvenile justice system. 

I am excited to announce the appointment of Edna Williams, Director of Children’s Behavioral Health Services for the Lakeview Center, Inc.  as the new chairwoman of the Juvenile Justice Circuit 1 Advisory Board.  Williams has worked at Lakeview Center for 25 years and is responsible for oversight of Behavioral Health Children's Services. This includes residential, outpatient, school services, in- home therapy services, and case management services.

In the additional community service role, Williams will work with local partners to provide advice and direction to the Department of Juvenile Justice to help Florida's at-risk youth and families as well as to help ensure public safety. It's an opportunity to collaborate at the local level to assist the agency in the development and implementation of juvenile justice programs and policies.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee along with the Success Unlimited Women and Youth Business Center co-sponsored a youth and community conversation event on July 14th  at the Pinellas Technical College in St. Petersburg. More than 200 Pinellas youth gathered to speak with elected officials, educators, and other community supporters about the three main elements they need to be successful: support, encouragement, and opportunity. The youth also said they could be more successful if there were more mentors and sources of positive and constructive activities in the community.  While representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary and DJJ sat on the panel, the youth were the stars of the conversation. They discussed peer pressure, teen violence, and of the need for improved communication between teens and adults to enhance their lives.

Pat served as the mistress of ceremonies for the event and she was assisted by Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter. Among those on the panel were St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway; The Honorable Patrice Moore, Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit; the Honorable Michael Andrews, Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit; Laura Snell, Senior Assistant Public Defender, Juvenile Division; and Adrienne Conwell, Circuit 6 Chief Probation Officer.  

The teens were also recognized for essays written and crime prevention posters they had created. In addition, the youth received backpacks full of free school supplies. Some also received gift cards from area merchants. The youth were also treated to a spaghetti dinner.

Residential Update

Special events are part of the life skills experience at the Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  In May, MYA hosted its first Mothers’ Day Dinner, allowing each MYA Champion (a mother’s son) to send his mother an invitation that required an RSVP.  Then, each Champion planned the event and made their mothers beautiful corsages.

The boys learned about corsages and how to make them, were taught how to present a corsage, and learned how to assist a lady in putting on a corsage.  

Each son dressed in one of three clothing options for the special dinner.  The boys presented their handmade wrist corsages to their mothers as they met them at the area entry.  Each young man then escorted his mother to the photography area for a mother-son photograph and then escorted her to the table where he held her chair, seating his mother with courteous manners.  The mothers then enjoyed two hours with their sons and a well-planned special dinner prepared by the MYA Youth Council and the culinary arts initiative.

Anytime MYA has an event, FJJA Volunteer of the Year Nominee Charles Britto (left) always is dependable.  Representing his church, Riverside Baptist Church–Kendall, and as a mentor to two MYA Champions through the JFJ Ministries Steadfast Mentoring program, Mr. Britto attended the event to show his support and to assist those boys whose mothers were unable to attend.

Many thanks go to Ms. Sanchez, vocational instructor, for acquiring the materials to teach the young men how to make corsages and for sharing pertinent historical information.  Miami-Dade County Public Schools provides MYA with excellent services and exceptional professionals who instruct and guide the MYA youth.  Special appreciation also goes to the MYA dietary staff, led by Rosalind Brockington, for the outstanding job in planning, preparing, and serving a delicious dinner.  

Another special event idea was born during the Mothers’ Day Dinner when one guest of honor expressed her heartfelt appreciation to MYA Facility Administrator Johnny Richardson.  She asked how she could help celebrate her son’s 18th birthday.  As a result, MYA hosted its first unique youth birthday celebration—with a twist.  

Ms. Marie—who is a Publix® Super Markets bakery employee—along with her mother, joined MYA in recognizing four MYA Champions who had May birthdays and that included her son.  The event provided the young men with a career exploration component and hands-on experience in how to decorate a sheet cake.

At the Dade Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, art is used as therapy for the youth.  Most people think of a room with a psychologist or psychiatrist conducting a one-on-one session when the word “therapy” is used.  However, some of the best therapy involves utilizing forums that are fun for youth.  Art therapy is just that forum. 

The young men of Dade JRF take part in creating wonderful works of art while expressing themselves in positive manners. 

Shown here, some of the boys learn how to make impressions of their hands in order to create 3-D sculptures while others use the computer to create graphic designs. 

Staff Development and Training Update

DJJ Leadership Microlearning Pilot Program
Investing in staff to enhance and develop leadership & management skills

SD&T is excited to announce the launch of the Leadership Microlearning Pilot Program! The pilot program offers approximately 100 selected juvenile justice professionals statewide an opportunity to support and develop their leadership and management skills.

Leadership and management training has been identified as a top staff need. Research shows that investing in staff to develop and enhance job skills heightens employee engagement, which in turn results in better performance and staff retention.

Director Denny Clark offers thanks on behalf of SD&T to the following individuals for their strong support in presenting this pilot learning opportunity to juvenile justice staff:  Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler, Interim Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, Director of Program Accountability Amy Johnson, Bureau Chief of Human Resources Dodye Garye, Minnora Bishop, Christopher Goodman, Maureen Honan, Morrison King, Faye Mack, Naomi Screen, Ann Schulte, Eugene Morris, FJJA Executive Director Cathy Craig-Myers, and the DJJ Training Advisory Council. For their assistance and teamwork in creating the pilot, kudos to DJJ’s Latrice Covington, Nikole Ellis, Kimi Johnson, Samadhi Jones, Kenny Reeves and Jennifer Sherlock, and to Grovo’s Matt Anderson and Hillary Manne.

Got a minute or so? Online microlearning is a cutting-edge approach that is ideally suited to the busy schedules of juvenile justice professionals. For the pilot, SD&T chose Grovo, a leader in microlearning. Grovo structures content as one- to four-minute videos. All that’s needed is a computer or smart device with internet access. Participants complete their lessons at the times that suit them best!

What do the participants get? The video-based microlearning tool can help build skills in a way that fits with a busy schedule. Pilot participants can view pre-loaded videos that focus on leadership and management skills, and are also invited to explore the site and click the videos that appeal to them. Grovo’s library has more than 5,000 video lessons! Freedom of choice helps SD&T understand staff learning preferences. Two certificates are also available.


Leadership and Management Videos

  • Skill-building videos, 1- to 4-minutes long
  • Quick questions follow each video to confirm understanding

Mandatory Weekly Surveys

  • Assess the suitability of microlearning juvenile justice professionals
  • Data will be used to determine usage preferences

Optional Coaching Support

  • Learner-driven conversation
  • Coach helps select videos that align with learners’ needs, and/or practice newly-learned skills
  • Available to all participants throughout the pilot
  • Supervisors are welcome to participate

Basic Leadership content:

  1. Attention Management
  2. Building Consensus and Commitment
  3. Communication Fundamentals
  4. Communicating and Interacting with Others
  5. Developing Self and Others
  6. Leadership
  7. Leading and Managing Change
  8. Leveraging and Optimizing Performance
  9. Stress Management

SD&T’s Leadership Microlearning Pilot Program will run from July 10 through September 30, 2015. For more information, please email Samadhi.Jones@djj.state.fl.us.

Office of Health Services Update

Statewide Helpline for Questions about Psychotropic Medication 

The Office of Health Services (OHS) would like to inform Residential and Day Treatment programs, Detention Services, Probation staff, and Medical/Mental Health providers of a new Helpline for questions about psychotropic medications. 

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has partnered with the University of Florida Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to pilot a statewide toll free telephonic consultation help line for prescribing practitioners, nurses, mental health and substance abuse clinicians, and other DJJ staff and providers.

The purpose of the help line is to facilitate access to expert consultation on questions concerning the safety and well-being of children and adolescents in DJJ facilities who are receiving psychotropic medications. It does not represent a second opinion, but is an educational line designed to give information about psychotropic medications.

To schedule a consultation, callers will be asked to leave information with the consult line staff.  The consult line staff will take information about the youth including age, height and weight, medication history, and the reason for contacting the consult line. Daily appointment slots will be available, and all appointment time will be provided within two working days after the initial contact. The consultation will be provided by experienced licensed physicians who hold certification in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. A written summary of the consultation will be sent by fax after the call.

Toll-free number:


 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight/Standard Time

For a printable flyer to distribute to staff or display in your facility, please click here.