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Secretary's Message

October 12, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

I would like to take a moment and share with you all some information on a very important cause.  October is National Bullying Prevention Month and DJJ joins with the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet (FCYC) and other state agencies, school districts, faith-based organizations, and other community stakeholders in recognizing and supporting this issue.  The FCYC has established its Bullying Workgroup as a response to the negative impacts that bullying and cyberbullying were having on Florida’s children and youth. This is the second year that the Cabinet has worked to raise awareness for bullying prevention and support activities that promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of every child.  This year, the Bullying Workgroup is supporting the efforts of Stand Strong USA, an organization that provides guidance and resources to teens currently facing depression and bullying in their daily lives. 

For more information and resources related to bullying prevention, please visit the Florida Department of Education’s website at Bullying Prevention.  I encourage all DJJ staff, providers, and stakeholders to get involved and help prevent bullying. As always, thank you for all that you do to serve Florida’s youth and families.     


Christina K. Daly

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet 

On Monday, Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht attended the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet at the Florida Capitol.  During this meeting, the cabinet heard from Jack Levine, founder of the 4Generations Institute on a proposal for how the Florida Youth Commission could better impact the youth involved.   In addition, the Cabinet discussed the removal of the five year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrant children to enroll in Florida KidCare and the Cabinet’s priority issue of early childhood development for children ages 0-3.

The mission of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet is to ensure that the public policy of Florida relating to children and youth promotes interdepartmental collaboration and program implementation in order for services designed for children and youth to be planned, managed and delivered in a holistic and integrated manner to improve the self-sufficiency, safety, economic stability, health and quality of life of all children and youth in Florida.

On Wednesday, I was interviewed by First Coast News in Jacksonville regarding the upcoming See the Girl Summit hosted by the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Our agency has been a staunch supporter of this event which brings together direct service providers, therapists, advocates and professionals working in the juvenile justice and child protection systems. This year’s summit will focus on three major categories: girl-centered practice, research to activism, and wellness through the healing arts. I will be a featured speaker during the opening session of the summit which begins on October 22nd at the Jessie Ball duPont Center in Jacksonville. Registration for the 2015 See the Girl Summit is still ongoing; for more information, click here.

Human Trafficking Update

Over the past two weeks, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot has traveled to Minnesota and Georgia to meet with state legislators, representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, attorneys, local service providers that work with victims of human trafficking, and juvenile justice and child welfare representatives.  Bethany traveled with DCF Human Trafficking Director Kim Grabert as well as a representative from the Office of the Attorney General. Both trips allowed us to gather information to further address the issue of trafficked youth as Georgia and Minnesota are also considered lead states on this issue.  While Florida continues to be a leading state in regards to policy and practices, it was a great opportunity to strategize how we can incorporate successful methods being used in other states into the current structure in Florida.  Bethany looks forward to reviewing the information gathered to study how we, as the State of Florida and the Department of Juvenile Justice, can best use this information to enhance our efforts to combat human trafficking and serve those victimized by it.

Bethany and I would like to thank DJJ employees for their commitment to serving youth within our system that have been victims of human trafficking. 

Probation Update

Last week, I told you about my recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona for the 2015 Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Inter-Site Conference which was presented by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. During the conference, former statewide JDAI coordinator Colleene Scott, who retired from DJJ back in May, was awarded for her commitment to Juvenile Justice over her years of service with our Department.

Thanks to Colleene for her hard work and dedication to our agency’s reform efforts.  

On October 6th, DJJ hosted the Multi-Systems Collaboration Training and Technical Assistance (MSC-TTA) with the Center for Coordinated Assistance to States. This training welcomed representatives from the Governor’s Office, State Court Administrator, Agency for Health Care Administration, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Children and Families and Guardian Ad Litem. Representing our agency were Meg Bates from the Office of Residential Services as well as Jeannie Becker-Powell, Alyssa Hernandez and Kristen Tellis all with the Office of Probation and Community Intervention. The MSC-TTA focused on building collaborations within the states and our Florida team chose to focus on issues pertaining to youth who are incompetent to proceed in the legal system. The MSC-TTA will continue to meet and make recommendations to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

Circuit 16 Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson recently held a circuit-wide transition training at the DJJ probation offices in Key West. The training was centered on how youth make the jump from probation services back into the real world. After the training, the staff held a fall pot-luck luncheon.

The staff also recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month on October 2nd  by supporting the cause and wearing pink.  Staff from both the Key West and Islamorada offices participated in this event. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.  

Circuit 16 JPO Nancy Masry recently congratulated one of her probationary youth who recently completed her conditional release sanctions. The 18-year old young lady was thrilled to be re-entering her community and thanked Nancy for all of her help during the transition. Nancy rewarded the young girl with a cake and a certificate of completion. 

Circuit 15 Probation staff held a retirement party for SJPO JoAnn Williams. The Probation team recognized JoAnn for the contributions she has made to Palm Beach County youth and their families during her 33 years of service to the State of Florida. JoAnn will be missed greatly by her peers and colleagues in Circuit 15 and on behalf of our entire agency, I would like to congratulate JoAnn on her  retirement and wish her the best in the years to come! 

Pictured left to right:  Retired Dorothea Daniels, Commitment Manager; Centered SJPO Joan Williams and Right Retired Frankie Jerrido, SJPO. 

AMIKids of Volusia County held a “Superhero” Day on September 25th, which included tours at the facility.  This event included superhero snacks provided by AMI  and a performance by the USA Dance Team of Greater Daytona where they asked those in attendance to get on their feet for dance lessons on the Waltz, Cha-Cha, Electric Slide and many others. Throughout the day, over 120 members of the community toured and shared in this fun-filled day of healthy activities.

Detention Update

The administrative staff at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center has been working very hard during the transition of administration by promoting rewards based on positive behaviors.  Administration is working diligently with our officers and showing that positive reinforcement promotes positive behaviors.  This is evident by having 38 youth participate in the Create Your Own Sundae Celebration.

In appreciation for the hard work our Level 3 youth exhibited both during school and on their assigned mods, during the evening of Friday, October 2nd Superintendent Wolf sponsored a Create Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Celebration for those youth.

The youth were able to choose from 3 different ice cream flavors, bananas, 2 types of toppings – Hot Fudge or Caramel, sprinkles, M&M’s, crushed Snicker Bars, Oreo Cookies, and/or Reese’s Pieces. Of course their sundaes wouldn’t be complete without whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Ensuring all dietary alerts were followed, the alert list was reviewed for the youth who were lactose intolerant.  One youth was lactose intolerant and he chose to have Raspberry Sherbet as a replacement for the ice cream.

The event was also a platform to have a positive discussion with the youth about their future goals and plans.  The celebration was enjoyed by all and is just a start for the fun and exciting events that the Orange RJDC is planning. 

The youth are looking forward to another exciting reward and are making sure they exhibit positive behaviors so they may participate. 

 I am pleased to announce that Jack McCotter has been named assistant superintendent for the Southwest Florida RJDC. Jack, who has worked with our agency for the last nine years, began his career at the Monroe RJDC in Key West. He brings a wealth of detention knowledge as he previously served as a detention specialist. Jack joins Assistant Superintendent Mary Pagano at Southwest. Mary has been with the Department for the last 15 years. 

The transformation into a more trauma informed environment continues at the St. Lucie RJDC. Pictured below are the recent updates to the new rewards soft room.

Prevention Update

Congratulations to Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, who was recently  nominated for the 2015 Girls Scout Women of Distinction Award by the Girls Scouts of the Florida Panhandle.  A program inspired by Girl Scouts nationally, the Women of Distinction Awards honor women who truly demonstrate their commitment to the community. Since its inception, more than 134 women throughout the Florida Panhandle have been recognized as Women of Distinction who exemplify the mission of Girl Scouts: building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

Nominees will be honored during the Women of Distinction Awards Gala on November 19th.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, CPO David Cornuet, Reform Specialist Elizabeth Phillips and JPOs Khalisa’t Mollins, Dawn Burns, Camella Bonnick, Darylin Adegbayi and Richard Jones volunteered during the My Fest Florida event on September 26th  at Kleman Plaza in Tallahassee.

My Fest Florida is a community event organized by My Life (Magellan Youth Leaders Inspiring Future Empowerment) to raise awareness and share resources related to mental health, substance abuse, foster care, violence, bullying, disabilities and other challenges facing youth and young adults.  Staff set up a DJJ display at My Fest and CPO David Cornuet and other JPOs volunteered to assist in manning the booth all day.  It was totally a DJJ team effort.  A special thanks to Leon County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jessica Ikner who gave Verla the McGruff the Crime Dog’s uniform for the event.  Volunteers from the FAMU School of Pharmacy rotated wearing the McGruff uniform and walked  through the crowd giving out ID fingerprinting kits and badges.  Parents were referred to DJJ’s display table for assistance in fingerprinting their kids, and JPOs Dawn Burns and Khalisa’t Mollins fingerprinted kids throughout the day’s event.  The bounce house, face painting, and entertainment and music kept the event going all day.   Also appearing on program were Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell as well as Leon County Public Schools’ Special Projects Manager Rocky Hannah who provided an uplifting, inspirational message to all attendees. 

My Fest Florida was not only a fun event but helped to educate the community with a positive message as well as introducing a community partnership network available to parents. 

In the above photo, Khalisa't Mollins, JPO; Darylin Adegbayi, JPO; Mcgruff the Crime Dog; Dawn Burns, JPO; Elizabeth Phillips, Reform Specialist and Verla Lawson-Grady, Community Engagement Coordinator attend My Fest activities.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene spoke at the Department of Education’s Educational Strategies and Student Engagement on September 22nd in Orlando. Using the theme, “Preventing Burn-out, Igniting Passion!” Tina delivered an interactive, entertaining, and motivational presentation where participants learned how to prevent and recover from burn-out. Among the areas addressed were: how to effectively and positively build teams; igniting passion and living out your purpose; enhancing awareness of youth who are/or have suffered from trauma, human trafficking, abuse and/or neglect; inspiring others through the power of positive words and letting go of negativity; utilizing effective work ethics and active listening skills.

I am pleased to share this success story from the PACE Center for Girls of Orange Countyregarding a student named Veronica. When Veronica enrolled at PACE Orange as a freshman in November of 2014, she was deemed ungovernable with a history of mental health concerns, and was not achieving academic success in public school.

During her first few weeks at PACE, she would not speak with staff, girls, or even respond to requests. Counseling and academic staff began intensive work with Veronica, taking a trauma-informed approach and building a trusting relationship which allowed her to blossom.

After a few weeks, Veronica began to open up about her past as well as the obstacles that she faced. Staff created a plan and worked with her mother to ensure Veronica had the tools and services to succeed. As a result, Veronica’s attendance in school improved. She began building relationships and trust with students and staff. She took additional classes online, became an honor roll student, and student of the month.

During the summer, Veronica completed five online classes in addition to her regular schedule. She successfully completed PACE at the end of the 2015 summer session as a junior. Veronica has since moved to New York with her mother where she is enrolled in school and preparing to graduate during the 2016-2017 school year.

Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, JPO Patricia Hooper, and Circuit 1 Faith Network Leader Carolyn Coleman participated in the Circuit 1 Faith Network training course on October 3rd at the Marie K. Young Wedgewood Community Center in Pensacola. The purpose of the training was to educate members of the faith community about opportunities to get involved with the Faith Network. The training gave members of the faith community information to assist in preventing youth from entering the juvenile justice system or from going deeper into system. Information was presented about how the faith community can work with the DJJ’s circuit advisory boards.

Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) who graduated on October 9, 2015, in a ceremony at the JAC in Jacksonville. JDOs supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. Thanks to Vicki Burke, JDAI Coordinator, North Region, and Darrell Johnson, Superintendent for Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to SD&T Learning Consultant/Statewide Reviewer Barbara Campbell, Senior Learning Specialist Artavia Parrish, Cina Wilson Johnson,  Deputy Director, and Duane Pace, Senior Learning Consultant who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility listed next to their names.

Front Row (left to right): Joey Joseph – Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC), Tychone Hagans – Volusia RJDC, Latosha Welch Johnson –Alachua RJDC, Michelle Chatterton – Duval RJDC

Middle Row (left to right): Deangelo Smith – Alachua RJDC, Robert Loyd – Alachua RJDC, Williams Courtney – Alachua RJDC, Megan Wilson – Alachua RJDC, Tina Scott – Alachua RJDC and Matthew Frueh – Volusia RJDC

Back Row (left to right): Robert King – Duval RJDC, Joel Eddy – Volusia RJDC, Frederick Thompson – Duval RJDC, Henry Crespo – Volusia RJDC, Deonte Jones – Duval RJDC, Kendrick Sanford – Duval RJDC, Shaquis Brown – Alachua RJDC

Residential Update

Choo, choo…all aboard!”  The students at the Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment (JUST), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 17, which is located in Liberty County and operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., help the local community every Friday in preparation of special community events.  One of the projects they have been involved in for many years is the Veteran’s Memorial Railroad located in Bristol. 

According to the website, the “Veterans Memorial Railroad was founded in 2001 when a group of local people, interested in both railroading and community service, banded together to install a passenger train at Veterans Memorial Park in Bristol.  The Liberty County Board of Commissioners gave their permission to use a large area of the park for the Railroad.” 

The railroad, tunnels, water tower, and other buildings necessary to maintain the operation of the locomotive and the steam engine were made possible by local donations and a federal grant.  In addition, the community and the students from JUST continually provide labor to support its operation.  The boys from JUST enthusiastically help prepare this local resource for seasonal events, such as the “Veterans Memorial Railroad Ghost Train” that will operate from Oct. 23 to 31.  After working so hard on this community service project, the JUST students also participate in the seasonal events.  Their work provides valuable experiences in teamwork, learning about history, and giving back to a community.

The students of JUST also participated in a community service project that took them to the coast in Eastpoint.  Last month, they participated in the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup Day, which was one of the world’s largest volunteer efforts to clean up our oceans and waterways.  This was the 30th anniversary of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup®.  The students from JUST participate in this event each year.  This year, JUST participated in the cleanup that took place along the Apalachicola Estuary located at Cat Point–Apalachicola Bay. 

Leading up to the annual event, the boys participate in the 21st Century/Boys and Girls Club groups, learning about the Apalachicola Estuary.  

The boys walked up and down parts of the Apalachicola Bay coastline, picking up all kinds of litter.  They logged and weighed each item, which will be recorded for international research.

While helping out, the students learned firsthand—through exploration—about the connectivity of the river, the bay, and Gulf of Mexico habitats.  They learned the history of the area and its role as a working waterfront.

After the cleanup, the boys visited The Reserve Education and Research Center.  At the Center, the students enjoyed many exhibits that explained the local fishing industry and live exhibits of local wildlife.  That day, they learned a lot about the coastal environment and helped not just the local community, but also the global community. 

RAM-C (Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged), a non-secure program for males, ages 9 to 18, which is located in Madison County and operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., has many partnerships in the local community.  One of those partnerships is with Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville.

Last month, a few of the RAM-C students performed community service work at the church to help prepare for a special service:  Pastor Appreciation Day.  The young men assisted by cleaning the church grounds for the special celebration.  The program’s goal for this and all community service projects is “Giving back to the community one day at a time.”

RAM-C also offers many faith-based opportunities at the program and in the local community.  A few of the young men attended services at Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church the next day.

Last month, the staff of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., joined in partnership with Pastor Darryl E. Edwards, II, of Greater Bethany Baptist Church to provide a special event for the boys. 

The young men had the opportunity to listen to the Rev. Jonathan K. Sanders from the Victory Deliverance Church in Columbus, OH.  He shared his life experiences in the hope of inspiring the young men to make positive decisions, reach forward, and set new and positive goals for their futures. 

Shown right are the young men listening to Rev. Sanders.

In addition, last month the teachers and staff at Duval Academy selected four students who showed the most growth and academic progress in the previous four weeks.  Those students were awarded a certificate and treated to a special lunch with their teachers.

Duval Academy Lead Teacher Edelen and English Teacher Collins (who also was a finalist for the Teacher of the Year) are shown below with students who were honored. 

Each week, a youth is selected for the “Student of the Week” award.  This incentive continues to be a motivation for youth at Duval Academy to strive for greatness in their academics.  Many thanks go to the education and program staff members at Duval Academy for their continuing efforts to motivate the students of the program.

In mid-September, the Duval Academy youth participated in a restorative justice project in which they assisted with the American Heart Association Heart Walk.  The young men set up for the event and cleaned up afterward.  

The last week of September brought the much-anticipated Duval Academy Quarterly Family Day.  This day not only allows the young men to spend time with their families and enjoy good food, they also enjoy games with their family members, and participate in an awards presentation to recognize those youth who have performed well in meeting their treatment goals.  Additionally, the youth perform for the families by reciting original poetry and singing.