Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

October 19, 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

This week, our agency in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council hosted the 2015 National Faith Symposium at the Rosen Center in Orlando. The Symposium is one of the largest gatherings of its kind, bringing together leaders of faith, child welfare, juvenile justice, and others to talk about how we work together to empower Florida’s children and families and set them on a path to success. The Symposium connected conference attendees to resources, highlighted best practices, and provided training to enhance faith and community-based programs that serve at-risk youth and struggling families.

On Tuesday, the conference welcomed Governor Rick Scott who was on hand when I announced the winner of the 2015 Champion of Hope Award. This year’s recipient was Executive Pastor Carolyn Coleman from the New Life Ministries of Niceville, Florida.

In the above photo (from left to right): Pat Smith with DCF, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, me, 2015 Champion of Hope Award Winner Carolyn Coleman, and Governor Rick Scott. 

Pastor Coleman began her work with DJJ last October as New Life Ministries was looking to recruit and train volunteers who had a passion for mentoring at-risk youth. Just six days after becoming executive pastor, Carolyn attended her first chaplaincy training with DJJ’s Circuit 1 Faith Network and began volunteering with our agency almost immediately. Since that time, she has become a certified chaplaincy trainer and hosted her first training class back in May. Pastor Coleman also volunteers as the DJJ Circuit 1 representative in educating the community on our agency initiatives. Her commitment as a volunteer is without recognition and extends beyond her full-time employment with the Department of Defense as a Computer Scientist.   

Pastor Coleman and New Life Ministries began working with High School High Tech (HSHT); a mentoring program which is funded through Goodwill Industries. New Life Ministries proposed the idea of mentoring juveniles from the Okaloosa Youth Development Center (OYDC) at the church once a week. HSHT transported the juveniles to the church facility for mentoring activities.

In addition, to celebrate the completion of major milestones for those youth who are transitioning into the real world again, New Life implemented and hosted a monthly graduation ceremony for those transitioning students. The program has been extremely successful, and since July all juveniles that have left the OYDC have participated in a graduation ceremony at New Life.

On behalf of our entire agency I would like to thank Pastor Coleman for all that she has done to serve not only our agency but the youth that we serve. This is such a well-deserved honor.

Conditions of Confinement Meeting

In partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, I along with several DJJ staff members from various program areas and stakeholders met to participate in training on conducting assessments and audits of the conditions of confinement in DJJ’s juvenile detention centers and assess areas for improvement.  The goal is to ensure that DJJ’s detention centers are operating at a level that meets the nationally recognized standard in order to continue the agency’s mission of providing the best level of services possible.

Education Update

Last week, two recent graduates of the AMIkids Miami Dade North High School recently interviewed with Inktel, a growing telecommunications center.  After a very tedious day of interviews and assessments they were both hired for employment! AMI grads Youri A. and Tiffany B. will start with Inktel next week with a two week paid training. In addition, they will both take advantage of a scholarship opportunity which was made possible by the Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund. On behalf of DJJ, I would like to congratulate them both on landing the job and wish them all the success and happiness in their new careers. 

Detention Update

Recently, a DCF crossover youth with a cynical disposition was ordered to the juvenile detention center in Alachua for his behavior during a recent court appearance. Since arriving at Alachua, the youth was put on isolated supervision due to his nature to act out and make inappropriate outbursts. The youth had refused to complete his homework and was making rude comments to the staff.

Alachua Superintendent Forrest Hallam visited this youth in his mod and talked to him for a few minutes regarding a new litter of therapy puppies in the hopes that he would respond. Upon seeing one of the puppies, the youth’s demeanor completely changed. Superintendent Hallam explained to him that these puppies were abandoned, had no one to care for them and would likely not have made it. The youth bonded with the puppy right away and asked if he could play with him. Hallam told him that if he finished his school work that he could play with them. The youth’s response was, “Can you get me a pencil?”

The youth finished his schoolwork within an hour and spend the remainder of the shift in the courtyard washing the puppies and letting them jump on him. While the puppies did not fix him or change him, they filled a need and now help him get through his tough moments. They allowed him to be a kid again, if only for a few hours.

Last Friday, the staff at the Volusia RJDC celebrated those youth who earned Student of the Week honors by giving them a visit to the candy store and letting them pick out a few of their favorite treats. In addition, the girls at the facility who were students of the week were each permitted to pick out new pajamas and flip flops to wear in their sleeping rooms. The new sleeping attire was purchased with donated funds and purchased by Claudia Owens from the Regional Office. Students at Volusia who earn 80% of their possible classroom participation points are recognized as a Student of the Week. These points are given for demonstrating pro-social behavior in class. This past week, over 75% of the population was successful. 

Prevention Update

Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris was a guest on “The Jazmyne Show,” a public access television program produced and directed at Florida A&M University on October 6. Eugene was one of two guests interviewed by host and executive producer Jazmyne Simmons during her program which focused on the importance of effective gender-specific prevention programming for girls. In addition to Eugene, the other program guest was Lashawn Gordon, Program Director at PACE Center for Girls-Leon, a DJJ Prevention provider.

The Jazmyne Show is a trendy, innovative talk show that focuses on key topics in health, lifestyle and social empowerment. The purpose of the show is to engage teens and young adults on every day issues that affect their overall health and well-being. The Jazmyne Show seeks to be a platform for open discussion. There are many forms of negative, yet highly impactful media. It is their hope to change that, one episode at a time.

In the above photo (from left to right): Eugene Morris, Lashawn Gordon and Jazmyne Simmons

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington, III and Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain spoke at Big Bend Cares Prevention and Outreach Services on September 16th in Quincy to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new satellite office of Big Bend Cares in Gadsden County.  Big Bend Cares is a United Way agency that provides education and comprehensive support to people impacted by HIV/AIDS.

The services are provided, in part, by the Florida Department of Health, serving eight Big Bend counties (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla). Big Bend Cares is the only organization devoted solely to providing AIDS services in those eight counties. The Center’s Director of Prevention and Outreach Services, Camye Edwards, stressed the importance of collaboration, building strong partnerships and community involvement. Their focus is on identifying and linking clients to service, educating the community, social networking, providing free HIV rapid testing, HIV outreach and education, in-service trainings, providing opportunities to volunteer and health fairs. 

The DJJ team provided an overview of Department initiatives, Prevention’s initiatives and the Faith Network.  Verla, Craig and Onazina explained how the Office of Prevention and Victim Services  and the Faith Network fits into the DJJ continuum.  They also discussed building partnerships and strengthening community outreach.

In the above photo (from left to right): Onazina Washington, III, DJJ Prevention; Alexander Moore, Program Coordinator; seated Tracy Gallon, Program Coordinator; Director Camye C. Edwards and Verla Lawson-Grady, DJJ Prevention.

Residential Update

For the past few years, the Office of Residential Services team in the northwest region has taken on a project that makes a difference during the holiday season to some of the kids served by DJJ.  This year, the team broadened its reach and pooled resources to make a much larger impact on the lives of children through collaboration with His Kids Too!

The team assembled 21 gallon-sized bags—14 for children and 7 for adults—to be sent to orphans and homeless adults in the war-torn eastern Ukraine.  These bags were filled with a variety of items that included hotel-sized toiletries, washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Band-Aids®, socks, combs, gender-specific items, and a few, fun non-essential items.  The team also donated many miscellaneous items such as clothes, gloves, toboggan caps, head wraps, bags, and wallets that will be added to other bags.  Although the bags may seem small, they are precious plenty for those in need.  

Shown above (left to right):  Natosha Faul and Sarah Hollar with prepared bags of goodies. 

Special thanks go to retired Commitment Chief Stuart Wolcott for coordinating this opportunity with the DJJ staff.  A very special thanks go to Natosha Faul (Residential Services North Region–West), April Lewis (Residential Services North Region–West), Sarah Hollar (Residential HQ–Contracts Unit), Kelvin Sanders (Residential Services North Region–West), Residential Services North Regional Director Mary Mills, Sandra Moten (Facility Services), Jeanine Rhodes (Residential HQ–Contracts Unit), and Lori Jernigan (Residential Services North Region–West) for their many contributions.  They all agreed this was a very worthwhile and heartwarming mission.

To everyone who has collected hotel-sized toiletries in your travels, thank you for contributing them to the Office of Residential Services for youth in programs.  Please keep them coming! 

Last month, the Orange Youth Academy and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA), non-secure commitment programs for males, ages 12 to 18, which are located in Orange County and operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, hosted the quarterly family day.  Students, staff members, and 48 families attended. 

The residents and their families participated in board games, enjoyed a special meal, and attended a graduation ceremony for those students who completed “Thinking for a Change” (T4C)—a behavioral program that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills, which includes 25 lessons that are taught in small groups. 

The students shared what they learned through T4C, using drawings and providing verbal presentations that included a synopsis of T4C, as well as how the presenter changed his behavior based upon the various topics of the T4C course.  Each graduate received a certificate of completion and a special dinner for the achievements.  The boys were beaming when they received a standing ovation at the close of the ceremony. 

Shown below are the students who received T4C completion certificates at the ceremony.

Also in September, OYA/OIYA and the Orange County Public Schools Alternative Education Program formed a partnership to host a Parent’s Open House for the residents’ parents.  The parents and their sons visited each class taught by the educators. 

The teachers talked about their areas of expertise that they teach at OYA/OIYA and some of the students recited poetry about their journeys.  In addition to seeing the classrooms, the parents also toured the students’ dormitories.  They were pleased to be able to ask questions of the educational and program staff members while spending time with their sons.  

Prior to the Parent’s Open House, two OYA students were panelists at the 2015 Educational Strategies & Student Engagement Institute: Destination Graduation, which was sponsored by the Florida Department of Education & Florida Afterschool Alliance and held at the Orlando World Center Marriott.  The students who represented OYA were exemplary; both spoke eloquently about their educational experiences while at OYA. 

The rookie running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars Timothy Antonio “T.J.” Yeldon, Jr. donated tickets to be a “fan for a day” when the Jaguars played against the Miami Dolphins in mid-September.  His gift was made to the Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program, a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 19, and to Gulf Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 19, which are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  

Program administration invited the students from OYA/OIYA to join in the National Football League (NFL) experience.  The students and staff members who attended also received meal tickets for the event.  Everyone who participated had a wonderful time.  For most, this was their first time attending a NFL game.  

At the end of September, 19 girls from Broward Girls Academy, a non-secure program for females, ages 14 to 19, operated by Youth Services International, Inc., were treated to Major League Baseball (MLB) game as special guests of the Miami Marlins Foundation

The girls enjoyed watching and cheering the Miami Marlins on to victory against the Atlanta Braves.  Prior to and after the game, the girls were treated to a picnic provided by the facility and had the opportunity to share their excitement.  This was the first time that the girls had ever attended a professional sporting event. 

At the end of the third inning, the Marlins even welcomed the girls by displaying a big welcome sign on the stadium jumbo screen that read “The Marlins welcome the girls of Broward Girls Academy.”  This successful outing fostered a partnership between the two organizations to benefit the girls in our care.

Office of Program Accountability Update

The Office of Program Accountability continues to improve the Department’s management and monitoring of both state-operated and contracted service providers.   The efforts to provide consistent, efficient, and effective oversight of service providers helps ensure the youth and families of the state are receiving the best services possible to strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth.  One of the processes now being consistently completed for all DJJ contracts across the state is administrative monitoring. This monitoring is an annual review of a provider’s compliance with the contract terms and conditions incidental to the direct care and/or supervision of Department youth. This includes the review of state-owned or leased property and /or equipment, financial reporting packages, financial management practices, provider policies and procedures, and personnel training, licensing and screening. Recently one of the Bureau of Contract Management’s contract managers Keyla Osorno, who works out of Fort Lauderdale, received some very positive feedback from two of the providers she manages.  These kind words demonstrate the positive impact a good contract manager can have in maintaining positive relationships with our providers.  Great work Keyla!

Libby Thomas of FSU, contract number X1712 stated:  “We continue to value our partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice in supporting court-involved teen mothers. We are appreciative of the knowledge and guidance provided by DJJ's Contract Manager in assisting Young Parents Project staff with program compliance and efficacy.”

Sherwood Hanford of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, contract number X1718 stated:  “Administrative monitoring was conducted professionally and efficiently.”

I am pleased to share this thank you letter from Kim Riley, DOC’s Director of Re-Entry.  Kim praised three of our employees from the Office of Program Accountability’s Technical Assistance Unit  including Josie Ashton, Sherri Wilson and Sandra Johnson who provided Motivational Interviewing Training for Department of Corrections staff at Sumter who supervise our juvenile offenders. The letter reads:

Sandra, Josie and Sherri,

I wanted to formally thank you for delivering a dynamic, engaging and professional Motivational Interviewing training at Sumter CI this week.  Not a single participant left the classroom without thanking me for the exceptional training they received. DJJ is fortunate to have the three of you as professional and master trainers in this specialized area.  Your passion for this mode of intervention and personal belief in its ability to directly impact personal transition was evident throughout the two days we spent with you.

Florida Department of Corrections appreciates the hand the Department of Juvenile Justice has extended to us for our partnership.  We appreciate Ms Greenwald's willingness to share your team as an invaluable resource.

Many thanks!  You did an outstanding job!

Kim Riley, ACSW, CAP
Director of Re-Entry
Florida Department of Corrections

Probation Update

Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell and Reform Specialist Elizabeth Phillips presented a workshop on Navigating the Crossroads of the Juvenile Justice System during the National Faith Symposium last week in Orlando. Jeannie and Elizabeth joined South Regional Director Steve Brown from Residential, Northeast Deputy Regional Director Billy Stark from Residential, and Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady from Prevention on a panel discussion that answered questions on how faith partners can become more involved with at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system.

JPOS Vicki Vance, SJPOs Patricia Locker and Shelley Turner, and JPOs Temika Shoemake and Bernadette Shoats from Circuit 13 joined Hillsborough Police Chief Eric Ward during Hillsborough County’s National Night Out event back in August. National Night Out is an annual community building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie in order to make our neighborhoods safer and better places to live. 

The Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP) in Circuit 11 participated in a Breast Cancer Awareness event at Trinity Church on October 10th. Youth in the STEP program assisted with the set up and breakdown for this event and in the process earned valuable community service hours for their efforts. During this event our youth had a great time participating in the walk for cancer, winning raffle gifts and learning more about breast cancer thru testimonials of breast cancer survivors.

CPO Cassandra Evans and JPOS Travisa Skinner attended the Women of Color Conference on September 19th, hosted by the Women Empowerment Institute. This conference was designed to education and inform professionals of current opportunities and the need for diversity within many field areas including law enforcement The guest speaker was Judge Glenda Hatchett who gave a speech entitled, “How Dare You Not?” The conference was very powerful with its message and will be an influence to those who attended. 

The Honorable Stacy Ross, Juvenile Circuit Judge for Circuit 17, hosted “Dolphin Day,” in her courtroom on October 13th. Judge Ross has hosted this event for several years now where she asks several football players from the Miami Dolphins to come speak to a courtroom full of youth, the majority of whom are DJJ clients, about how to rise above adversity and ignore the negative influences surrounding them.  This year the court welcomed starting offensive tackle Ja’Wan James and offensive guard Jamil Douglas. James told our youth that the windows of opportunity only get smaller as you grow older so you need to take advantage of them now. He also shared the advice of his mother who said, “Work hard now, so you can play later.” Douglas talked about his brush with the law while in college and how it made him realize that he needed to focus on his goals. The youth in attendance were thoroughly engaged and asked all sorts of questions. Those who asked questions were rewarded with autographed footballs.

Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign

Just a few weeks remain in this year’s pledge drive for the current Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC). Here are some quick tips for using the online pledging process:  

Step One: Register or, (if you already have an account) Log in.

Go to the pledging tool at https://www.givingnexus.org/_fsecc/ or via the FSECC website (www.fsecc.com). 

Step Two: Browse or Search the Charity Listings and Pick Your Favorite(s).

Access the charity lookup tool under the Main Menu drop-down list in the upper left hand side of the screen. (You do not have to be registered or logged in to browse or search for any of our participating charitable organizations.)  

Step Three: Make Your Pledge.

Once you have registered or logged in, you are ready to pledge (or you can sign out and log in later using the same user name and password that you created to register). To begin the pledge process, you must enter an employee ID number. Important: Use the same six- or seven-digit login number that you use when you log in the People First system. If you do not know or use a People First login number, please contact your human resource office.  

Step Four: Allocate Your Pledge.

You are only required to allocate (designate) one charity. If you choose more than one charity, the minimum annual gift to each charity is $5. As you add charities, the system automatically recalculates the portion of your total annual pledge that remains to be allocated. When your remaining total is $0, your allocations are complete.

Step Five: Complete Pledge Process and Print Receipt. 

You will be asked to sign your name digitally. Remember, if your donation is for a one-time sum in cash or a check, you must take a copy of your pledge receipt along with your cash or check donation to your agency campaign coordinator no later than 5 p.m. EST, Nov. 6, 2015. 

Thank you for participating in the FSECC and helping to support its many charitable causes!

Please visit www.fsecc.com for more information about the FSECC and current activity.