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Secretary's Message

October 26, 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

2015 See the Girl Summit

I was honored to deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2015 See the Girl Summit in Jacksonville, hosted by the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The Summit brought together professionals working in the juvenile justice and child protection systems to discuss the latest research, girl-centered programming practices, and public policy initiatives in an effort to best address the needs of Florida's girls. 

This year’s summit sessions were organized by the following three tracks:

Girl-Centered Practice translates research to practice and introduces participants to the core concepts and practical interventions that promote a girl-centered culture. The fundamentals of girl-centered programming is presented in the context of what matters to girls.

Research to Activism provides the opportunity for participants to learn about the current research that is grounded in the lived experiences and voices of girls and young women.

Wellness through the Healing Arts introduces participants to practices such as mindfulness, yoga, poetry, storytelling, dialogue and reflection. 

Florida Youth Challenge Academy Site Visit

On Thursday, I made a site visit to the Florida Youth Challenge Academy (FLYCA) in Starke. I very much enjoyed meeting the youth and hearing about the positive impact this program is having on their lives. FLYCA is a 17 ½ month voluntary program geared toward Florida’s 16 to 18 year old at-risk youth. The program consists of a 5 ½ month residential phase and a 12 month post-residential phase. The FLYCA program focuses on vocation/job skills, education, leadership skills, community service, life skills, physical fitness/health, and citizenship.

JJSIP Update

For the past two weeks, we’ve rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in Circuits 8 and 3 respectively.  On Oct. 15th, approximately 30 staff members from Circuit 8—representing Residential Services and Probation & Community Intervention—gathered at the Gainesville Police Department for a morning training.  That afternoon, nearly 60 of the circuit’s many stakeholders attended the Circuit 8 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Meeting—hosted by Circuit Advisory Board Chairman Jim Pearce, who is the chief executive officer of CDS Family & Behavioral Health Services, Inc.—which featured the JJSIP roll out presentation.  

Shown left, are Residential Services Deputy North Regional Director Billy Starke, Jr., Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, and Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald. Shown right are Circuit Advisory Board Chairman Jim Pearce and Circuit 8 Chief Probation Officer Diane Pearson at the JJSIP stakeholders’ meeting.

Among those present were Circuit 8 Judges Monica J. Brasington and Phillip A. Pena; Alachua County Judge Susanne Wilson Bullard; Chief Deputy Clerk/Court Director for the Alachua County Clerk's Office Mary Grace Curtain; Eighth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Stacy A. Scott; Assistant Public Defender/Juvenile Division Susan Sheahan; Assistant State Attorney/Juvenile Division Chief Rebecca Shinholser; Alachua County Assistant State Attorney Rogers Walker; Assistant State Attorney/Levy County Division Chief Andrea Muirhead; Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson; and several members of law enforcement from each county in Circuit 8.

On Oct. 16th, Circuit 3 held the JJSIP roll out meeting for the judiciary in the morning and an afternoon training for DJJ staff members from Residential Services and Probation & Community Intervention at the Columbia County Courthouse in Lake City.  Approximately two dozen people attended the judiciary meeting and nearly 30 people attended the staff training, which included 100 percent participation from the Circuit 3 juvenile probation officers. 

Shown left are some of those who attended the staff training on Oct. 16, in Circuit 3.

Among those present at the judiciary meeting were Circuit 3 Chief Judge Gregory S. Parker; Circuit 3/Columbia County Judge Leandra G. Johnson; Circuit 3/Suwannee County Judge William F. Williams, III; Circuit 3 Assistant State Attorney/Juvenile Division Chief Mindy Janousek; Circuit 3 Assistant State Attorney Tonya DeAnne Davis; Circuit 3 Public Defender Blair Payne; Assistant Public Defender Ryan Terry; Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Rosado; and several members of law enforcement.  

In addition, on Oct. 16, Circuit 2 Delinquency Judge Charles Dodson and Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom hosted a refresher brown bag lunch about JJSIP.  Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer David Cornuet facilitated the discussion with approximately 30 stakeholders in attendance, including members of the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Tallahassee Police Department, and Leon County Public Schools.  CPO Cornuet also hosted a refresher course for the Circuit 2 juvenile probation officers the week prior.  

Then on the morning of Oct. 21, Circuit 3 held the JJSIP roll out stakeholders’ meeting in conjunction with the Circuit 3 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Meeting at the Lake City Police Department—hosted by Circuit Advisory Board Chairman Curt Jenkins, who is the director of Teen Court.  More than 30 stakeholders attended, including members of law enforcement who were unable to attend the judiciary meeting the previous Friday.

Shown left, Circuit 3 Chief Probation Officer Tom Witt at the Oct. 21 JJSIP stakeholders’ meeting.  The image on the right shows part of the audience at that meeting.

I appreciate all of our stakeholders for their continued support of the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence, of which JJSIP is an integral component. 

Special thanks go to Circuit 8 Chief Probation Officer Dianne Pearson and to Circuit 3 Chief Probation Officer Tom Witt for organizing these JJSIP roll out meetings and for presenting in each circuit.  Each of these roll out meetings and training sessions featured Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Interim Assistant Secretary for Probation & Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, and Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald.  After presenting the national perspective and research foundations of JJSIP, the speakers presented specifics about implementation in Florida and data relative to each circuit.

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP, a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating “what works” into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.

Human Trafficking Update

DJJ’s Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot partnered with the Big Bend Coalition against Human Trafficking to raise awareness on human trafficking during the Tally Fiesta event on October 17th in Tallahassee. Tally Fiesta is an annual event scheduled in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. Many students and community members visited the tent to learn more about the local efforts to combat trafficking in the Big Bend area as well as receive emergency safety information for migrant workers. It was a wonderful opportunity to represent DJJ within the community. 

In the above photo from left to right Sharon Saulter from the Department of Health and DJJ’s Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot. 

Probation Update

I am excited to announce that Elizabeth Phillips has been named statewide reform coordinator for the Office of Probation and Community Intervention.

Elizabeth brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her new position. She began her service to DJJ in 2007, most recently serving as the reform specialist for Circuit 2.  Before finding a home at DJJ, Elizabeth worked as a case manager with AMIkids and with the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches as a family social worker and camp director. She has a passion for working with families and our communities while promoting the agency’s reform initiatives. Elizabeth works tirelessly in order to provide the very best services to each and every youth touched by the juvenile justice system.

On behalf of our agency, I would like to congratulate Elizabeth on this well-deserved promotion! 

On Sept. 17th  and 18th , seven members of the DJJ probation team geared up to be named Honorary Army Recruiters.  Before becoming official recruits though, they needed to pass a few tests, including sitting in tank simulators and flying through the air.  Attending the tour were:  Circuit 4 CPO Donna Webb, JPOS Ashley Graves, JPOS Ann McKinnon, SJPO Donnell Malpress, SJPO Keith Money, JPO Dwayne Barton, and JPO LeAnn Gruentzel. They joined 12 other educators, civic leaders and law enforcement officials from Albany, Jacksonville, Ocala, Savannah, Valdosta and Vidalia, as guests of the Jacksonville Army Recruiting Battalion in a two-day educator tour to Ft. Benning, Ga., Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE), home of training for the U.S. Army’s Infantry, Armor and Airborne schools. Immersing themselves in the total-Army experience, the tour was packed with information about the history and architecture surrounding Ft. Benning. The group began its two-day mission with a brief about the seven Army Values from the tour host, Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg, commander, Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion. Moving to the Clarke Simulation Center, the tour experienced the sensation of firing at virtual targets inside the tight enclosure of a simulated tank. That virtual training prepared them for the real thing: actually climbing into a tank’s close confines when they visited the Abrams and Bradley tank motor pools.

While the first day was packed with on-the-ground training and skill testing, the second day showed off the culmination of infantry training and talent as the tour observed a military graduation ceremony—which included the stylings of the MCOE Band. Taking the path to the graduation on Inouye Field, the tour followed Heritage Walk passing the Dignity Vietnam Memorial Wall, where one of the recruiter escorts told his personal story about his connection to the wall. This replica of the wall will be at the post until at least 2019.

The day was still not over as the group moved in formation to one of the highlights of the tour: The U.S. Army Airborne School. Airborne instructors, also known as Black Hats, discussed the three phases of the school: ground training, tower training and jump training. Excited and apprehensive, the group was eager to prove they had the skill to fly Army by diving from a 34-foot tower. Although everyone didn’t make the jump, some of the ones who did, went back for the thrill at least three times. Before preparing for movement home, the tour gathered for a briefing from the MCOE chief of staff, as well as a brief at the Education Center where they learned about education opportunities available to soldiers and their families, such as tuition assistance, life-long learning and access to the nine colleges on the post.

Pictured above: JPOS Graves and Malpress during jump training. 

The Infantry School has been at Ft. Benning since 1918. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), resulted in relocation of the Armor School from Ft. Knox, Ky., joining the Infantry and Armor schools in one location. In 2009, Ft. Benning MCOE expanded to become the cornerstone of the Army’s simulation-based training and the apex for sharpening soldiers’ armor, airborne and infantry skills.

SJPO Chiquita Williams, JPO Greg Brown, and SJPO Linda McCray, from Probation and Community Intervention, Circuit 1, participated in the 22nd Annual Big Community Cookout event at the Fricker Center in Pensacola on Saturday, October 17, 2015. The theme of the event was, “Reclaiming Our Peaceful Community.” The event was sponsored by the Pensacola Community Arts and Recreation Association (PCARA) and Pensacola Neighborhood Services, attendees were treated to free food and entertainment by local recording artists, groups and soloists. Also in attendance were our community partners Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander III, and Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May.

There were many vendors that set up displays at the event. Linda, Chiquita, and Greg, passed out flyers on the Department’s “Roadmap to System Excellence” and the Civil Citation Initiative. There was great discussion on the Department’s desire to reduce juvenile delinquency through prevention and diversion initiatives and keeping youth from becoming involved in or from becoming more deeply involved in the juvenile justice system.

Prior to arriving at the event, Linda and Greg picked up five youth who are on their caseloads and who needed assistance with getting community service work hours completed. These youth thoroughly enjoyed helping to set up for the event and also working a concession stand handing out soft drinks and chips. They were all on-site at the event for eight hours and were taken home by Linda and Greg. It was a wonderful opportunity for the youth to spend time in a positive environment, meeting new people, and contributing in a positive way to their community.

Eckerd Project Bridge recently partnered with The Mission Continues and UPS to provide Central Florida youth with a second chance to give back to their community. Our partner for the event, The Mission Continues, empowers veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home to find new missions. The program redeploys veterans in their communities, so that their shared legacy will be one of action and service. 

The youth and volunteers had a wonderful day building a community garden at the Project Bridge site.  Other projects included painting a building and awnings, and completing various other gardening tasks.  The youth participated in a safety session on the utilization of power tools and the importance of hydration.  The community garden fosters the opportunity for continued education on how to grow vegetables and plants, as the youth will be maintaining this throughout the week.    

The event also served as community outreach to gain additional mentors for our youth.  The youth and volunteers greatly enjoyed the day giving back to the community.  

Thad Jenkins of Henkels and McCoy and Melissa Geiwitz of The Home Builders Institute represented Eckerd Project Bridge at the University of South Florida Showcase of Service Volunteer Fair. The team was there to show off the impact the organization has in the USF and Tampa Bay Community.  

From the event, the team networked and generated connections with many nonprofit community partners, USF faculty and staff, and student organizations who are willing to provide mentoring services, community service projects, internships, and more to our youth! We are hopeful for a great deal of additional opportunities for Project Bridge as a result of the Volunteer Fair.

CPO Peg LaMarca, ACPO Joe Dinda, JPOS Toni Lesher and Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 conducted a civil citation meeting at the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office last Wednesday. The meeting was centered on our continued efforts to provide civil citation for all qualified youth through the use of DJJ staff in La Belle. Representatives from the state attorney’s office and the Department of Health were also in attendance.

Last Wednesday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq was the guest speaker at Caloosa Middle School in Cape Coral and met with “The Young Gentleman’s Club.” The club is designed to provide mentoring assistance to the young men of Caloosa and to educate them about their life choices, self-respect, and goal-setting. Lut spoke with the club members about taking responsibility and being accountable.  (Lut is pictured left with club members.) 

Lut also the guest speaker during a career day class for eighth graders at Oasis Middle Charter School in Cape Coral on October 19th. She spoke to the class about how to make good decisions, being responsible, accountable and following their dreams. The class was very engaged and asked numerous questions about the processes here at DJJ.

Northwest Operations and Program Manager Gwen Steverson and Reform Specialists Therese Moses, Elizabeth Phillips, Michelle Galloway, and Bree Thaxton conducted the “Supervisor Bowl” at the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) in Chipley on October 15th. This retreat gave our supervisors and assistant chiefs in the Northwest Region a full day of team building and networking.  DJJ thanks PAEC for hosting the retreat, DOVE Academy for providing lunch and Circuit 14 CPO Wanda Jackson for all of her organizational assistance in making this retreat memorable. 

Probationary youth in Circuit 14 baked fun cupcakes and desserts last week to get ready for Halloween. Students who had enough Gold Card points were invited to participate in this unique event. Gold Card points are awarded for participation and conduct in the classroom throughout the week, and those students who were above average this week were invited to participate. The students can spend the points they earn in the school store or for special activities like off-campus trips and baking. 

Prevention Update

On October 16th, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) members and DJJ staff toured the Orange Youth Academy in Orlando during their recent quarterly SAG meeting.

Participants learned about the accomplishments and experiences of the youth at the academy and observed interaction between the teachers and students.  They also had the opportunity to hear from Cheryl Smith, who was named DJJ Teacher of the Year. Cheryl expressed great inspiration and passion for teaching the youth career and vocational skills at OYA.  

In the above photo (from left to right):  Cheryl Howard, DJJ; Shadai Simmons, SAG; Lucy Swain, DJJ; Yvonne Woodard, DJJ; Julie Orange, DJJ; Ima McCray, OYA; Mercedes Ramirez, SAG; Tiffany King, OYC. Back Row: Joshua Kuch, DJJ; Dwayne Maddron, SAG; Curtis Williams, DOE and Kerrick May, G4S.

DJJ Staff and SAG members also toured the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (ORJDC) in Orlando on October 16th. SAG members Shadai Simmons, SAG Chair Dwayne Maddron, Mercedes Ramirez, and DJJ Staff Cheryl Howard (financial coordinator – Federal grants) and Yvonne Woodard (juvenile justice specialist) and Victoria Little (research analyst) had the opportunity to visit with staff and youth and meet Justice, the department’s first therapy dog.

In the above photo (from left to right): Cheryl Howard, Yvonne Woodard, Victoria Little, Shadai Simmons and Mercedes Ramirez. Standing in the rear is Dwayne Maddron. Sitting in front is Justice the therapy dog.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene attended a presentation of the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners to the Hillsborough Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee on October 7th in Tampa. The Board of County Commissioners recognized the Hillsborough Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee for all of their hard work in combating bullying. The Board also issued a Proclamation identifying October as Bullying Prevention Month in Hillsborough County. A public service announcement featuring a student from the group Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) will soon be distributed in support of this campaign.

Commissioner Sandy Murman proclaimed October 2015 as Bullying Prevention Month in Hillsborough County. The Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee was represented by Dr. Tom Massey, University of South Florida; Jessica Muroff, Girl Scouts; Chantel Stampfer, Easter Seals; Violet Powell, Hillsborough Children’s Services; Cpl. Benjamin Kenny, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office; Monica Martinez, 13th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Programs; Tina Levene, Department of Juvenile Justice; Sarah Rynearson-Moody and Eva Dyer; Hillsborough County Strategic Planning-Criminal Justice Unit.

DJJ prevention provider Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services recently participated in The Children’s Trust, the largest annual single free event showcasing health and social services agencies in Miami-Dade County. During the event, thousands of children and families converged at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo Center to enjoy a wide variety of fun and entertainment as they learned about the educational, health and social services from more than 250 exhibitors. Over 20,000 people attended the event.

Miami Bridge was excited to be part of the assortment of exhibitors that were located in two indoor exhibit halls showcasing information about shelter and counseling services, education, after-school enrichment activities, low-cost health insurance, nutrition, safety, services for children with special needs, pre-kindergarten registration and much more. Since 1985, Miami Bridge has been the only 24/7 emergency youth shelter in Miami-Dade County. Annually, Miami Bridge shelters more than 1,000 youth and counsels more than 550 families. Services to youth in crisis include counseling, family counseling, mentoring, life-skill training and on-site Miami-Dade County Public School education.

The Bridge works to rescue kids from lives of victimization and crime, and in so doing, helps the South Florida community ensure that these kids have the opportunity to become productive members of society.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III and Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain attended the grand opening of the Hugh E. Cunningham, Jr. Enrichment Center on September 16th in Quincy. The center was created to keep youth off the streets and provide a service to aid with their education.  The center provides a number of services such as: school pickup, tutoring, mentoring, and working with students to complete homework.  The center serves as a safe haven for youth who have been expelled from school. Youth are provided music lessons, arts and crafts, and supervised access to computers. The center is also currently in the process of creating a choir. 

The DJJ team toured the facility and interacted with students.  They expressed the need to build partnerships and develop stronger community outreach with the facility owner. 

The DJJ team also met with the assistant principal of Carter-Parramore Academy and the Gadsden County Schools behavioral specialist and court liaison. Carter Parramore Academy is located in Quincy, and is one of 24 schools in the Gadsden School District.  The alternative school serves 276 students in grades 4-12.

On October 7th, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis attended a training entitled “Bullying Prevention in Education: Identifying it and How to handle it.” Rhonda Thomason with Welcoming Schools facilitated the training, sponsored by Legal Services of North Florida, Inc.  Topics covered included: ‘Words that Hurt and Words that Heal’ for youth in kindergarten to grade 4; ‘Be Who You Are’ for youth in grades 1-5 and ‘Making decisions on being an ally or bystander to bullying’ for youth in grades 4-6.

Lydia also attended the “Moving the Margins” Train the Trainer Training on October 8-9 at the Legal Services of North Florida Offices in Pensacola. Lydia completed the curriculum for Child Welfare Services with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth in out-of -home care. The training, based on the Moving the Margin curriculum that Lambda Legal and other experts developed with the National Association of Social Workers, was designed to bring people together to discuss issues affecting LGBTQ youth and families that have contact with the child welfare systems and to build community and strengthen policies around these issues.

The training included modules on areas such as: vocabulary, values clarification, risks, challenges and strengths specific to LGBTQ youth and their caregivers, managing confidential information, enhancing skills to intervene with biological, adoptive and foster parents, addressing differential treatment in child welfare agencies, and addressing the needs of transgender youth. The goal of the training was to educate key staff in agencies that work with or may come in contact with LGBTQ youth, so staff members can return to their agencies and train and educate their colleagues as well. 

On October 21st, team members from the Office of Prevention and Victim’s Services at DJJ Headquarters wore pink clothing and boots in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Office of Prevention team members in headquarters wore pink in support of the cause and used boots of all fashion to GIVE ALL CANCER the BOOT.

Detention Update

Superintendent Jeanette Lee and Captains Dorothy Brown and Sylvester Scott from the Escambia RJDC held a cake decorating class for level 3 girls at the facility. Each girl had the opportunity to decorate their own cake. The North Regional Office donated icing in several different colors which was transferred into cake decorating bags for easier decorating. The class of young ladies inspired Captains Brown and Scott to decorate their own cake. Captain Brown represented the agency with his very own DJJ cake.

Last week, the Escambia RJDC also received a batch of 20 pumpkins from Sweet Farms and Holland Farms in Milton. Over the next week, staff and youth will decorate these pumpkins for display throughout the facility and we will bring you those pictures as we get them.

Shown left is Sargent Kim Moorer with our pumpkins.

The Pasco RJDC recently received a new litter of puppies for the Teens Assisting Puppies Program at the facility. The pups are a lab/German shepherd mix and are about seven weeks old. The youth at the facility have already grown attached to the new group of dogs and have spoiled them with love and attention. These pups were graciously donated by the Pixel Fund and will remain with the facility until they are adopted. If you are interested in adopting one of these sweet dogs, please contact the staff at the Pasco RJDC or the local Pixel Fund.  

The Pasco RJDC also received a generous donation of backpacks and school supplies from the DJJ Pasco Faith Network Steering Committee. These donated items will be given to those youth who are being released. The backpacks included pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, ruler, composition book, spiral notebook and folders. The Faith Network is also working on care packages for our youth being released which will include snacks and hygiene products. 

Each week, girls from the Pasco RJDC are invited to participate in a yoga class at the facility. The class is instructed by volunteer Beatriz Lomeli who comes to the facility every Thursday afternoon.  All of the girls who participate say that this is a great way to relax and divert their minds away from the trouble surrounding them. 

Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) who graduated on Friday, October 23, 2015, in a ceremony at Broward College/Central Campus in Davie, FL.   JDOs supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. Thanks to Quatelious Mosley, Superintendent for Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center, for delivering the graduation address to the Broward College class.  Kudos to SD&T Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the facility listed next to their name.

Front Row (left to right):  Tangela Graham  – Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC); Polianna Santovenia – Collier RJDC; John Lenza –Palm Beach RJDC; Tarika McKay – Collier RJDC; Eli Obando – Miami-Dade RJDC; Samuel Charles – Collier RJDC; Shantavia Windom – Broward RJDC; Samy Alexia – Broward RJDC

Second Row (left to right): Andrea Minnis – Learning consultant Manager; Jhony Faustin – Collier RJDC; Catherine Solimine – Collier RJDC; Drita Bajram – Collier RJDC; Crystal Connors – Palm Beach RJDC; Markeshia Kirksey – Broward RJDC; Bria Tigner – Broward RJDC; Christian Espinoza – Miami-Dade RJDC

Back Row (left to right): Theodore Johnson – Broward RJDC; Otis Butler – Miami-Dade RJDC; Kenny Thimothee – Collier RJDC; Garron Morley – Collier RJDC; Antwain Strong – Miami-Dade RJDC; Andrew Smikle – Collier RJDC; Gina Reed – Broward RJDC 

Residential Update 

Last week, Office of Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker Reeves and master trainers Kevin George, Dru Greene, and Gale Wire held a weeklong R-PACT “Train The Trainer” workshop at the Wildwood Service Center in St. Petersburg.  The workshop focused on the best practices used in completing and applying the R-PACT concepts to performance planning.  The Residential Positive Achievement Change Tool (R-PACT) is a validated risk/needs assessment, which is fully integrated with the JJIS system.  The Residential Positive Achievement Change Tool (R-PACT) is used to track key areas of development for the youth in residential care.  The tool collects data on such things as prior criminal history, academic performance, family relationships, involvement with antisocial peers, and use of appropriate social skills for controlling emotions and handling difficult situations.  The train the trainer workshop provided a model-based training curriculum for 10 participants.  

The participants discussed identifying a youth’s level of risk to re-offend (along with criminogenic needs and protective factors) to guide case planning and engage youth in the change process.  Trainers and class participants discussed in-depth the importance of applying information from the R-PACT to support best practices in performance planning.  The training sessions were designed to continue to improve information, quality of services, and effectiveness of our programs.

Shown left is the group who attended the weeklong training.  Back row:  Kevin George, Vanessa Wicker Reeves, Brittany O’Brien, Ann McPherson, Gale Wire, Charles Mason, William Freeman, and Alexander Lewis.  Middle row:  Jessica Gibson, Marla Vose, Leslie Hagans, Jessica Schmidt, and Dru Greene.  Kneeling in front: Nicos Antonakos.

By using the Train The Trainer approach for R-PACT instructors, the Department is able to offer a sufficient number of R-PACT trainings for programs throughout the state.  This was the first R-PACT Train The Trainer workshop that has been offered in a few years.  Those who attended this workshop represent a variety of residential program contracted providers, as well as staff from DJJ’s Office of Programming & Technical Assistance.  For a list of qualified R-PACT trainers who can teach residential program staff, please contact Vanessa Wicker Reeves in the Office of Residential Services-HQ at (850) 717-2536 or by email:  Vanessa.Wicker@djj.state.fl.us.

Last week, Facility Administrator Mike Slayton, Assistant Facility Administrator Mike Durham, and Shift Manager Phenold Jacques passed out pizza to the residents of Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center, a maximum-risk residential commitment program for males, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  All of the residents of the program participated in the pizza party, which was held to celebrate the youths’ excellent performance in the month of September.  The pizza party is just one of the behavioral motivation system techniques used in the program to change youth behavior and maintain a positive program culture.

Fort Myers Youth Academy (FMYA), a non-secure residential commitment program for males, ages 14 to 18, operated by G4S, is constantly developing opportunities to encourage, empower, and assist the residents in making positive changes.  One of those opportunities was an invitation to attend the September Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Service Fair, which was established through a partnership between FGCU and FMYA through the FMYA Community Advisory Board. 

Shown left are the FMYA students who staffed the information booth at the Florida Gulf Coast University’s Service Fair.

FMYA set up a table at the fair to provide information about the educational needs of the students in the program.  Transitional Services Manager Steven Pam and Clinical Director Safiyah Davis accompanied two of the FMYA students who talked with the college students about the program and how it has made a positive difference in their lives.  The young men represented the facility very well and the response was positive. 

Multiple college students expressed interest in connecting with FMYA and, as a result, FMYA has been approved and registered with the FGCU service-learning database

Currently, there are FGCU students who have expressed interest in completing their service-learning community projects at the FMYA program.  In the past, the FMYA Community Advisory Board and program administration have actively explored ways to find volunteers who can tutor FMYA students in need of the extra help with their schoolwork in order to increase their skills in math, reading, and science.  The assistance of these college students will be greatly appreciated. 

In addition, the FGCU invited the students and staff of FMYA to attend the college’s lecture series, which begins in February 2016.  This will be a great opportunity for the youth to hear some dynamic speakers!  Special thanks go to Steven Pam for forging this partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University.

“Super Sweet Friday” is a weekly treat for those youths who have had zero behavior reports and received the most positives in their units at the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (JOCC), a maximum-risk residential commitment program for males, ages 13 to 21, operated by G4S. 

The boys have to work diligently to achieve this goal.  It is a prestigious night, which provides reinforcement for each youth that his hard work pays off. 

Prior to the event, staff members spend their days and evenings catching youth doing right, and going above and beyond in their assigned tasks and studies.  This week, 12 young men made it to Super Sweet Friday where they chose their favorite sweet cereals to munch on while they enjoyed playing Xbox™, PlayStation®4, and listened to music in the facility’s game room.  

As a weekly event, this has been a positive performance incentive for approximately eight years.  Super Sweet Friday includes at least two young men per living unit, two selected youths of the week, and two boys who recently completed orientation as a part of the “getting to know the program” process. 

The five puppies that live at the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center spend most of their days at the Alachua Academy, a non-secure residential commitment program for females, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by the North American Family Institute.  Last week, after the JJSIP roll out meetings in Circuit 8, Office of Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham and Programs, Policy Coordinator Meg Bates, and Residential Services Deputy North Regional Director Billy Starke, Jr. toured Alachua Academy and enjoyed interacting with the girls and the puppies.