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Secretary's Message

November 24, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

With Thanksgiving upon us this week, I would like to take a moment and express how grateful I am to each of you for the work that you do to impact the lives of Florida’s youth and families.  

Thanksgiving is a time where we gather together with friends and family to appreciate the many blessings we have in our lives.  Sadly, there are those of us that do not have as much and I hope you will take a moment to remember them this holiday.  It is easy to become swept up in our daily troubles and forget that we have much to be thankful for in our lives.  I wish for you great happiness, health, and good cheer this Thanksgiving and thank you for all that you do to make our state a great place to live.  



Christina K. Daly

Florida School-Justice Partnership Kick-Off Summit

On Monday, I was honored to give the opening remarks at the Florida School-Justice Partnership Kick-Off Summit in Tampa. I also had the privilege to serve on an opening session panel with Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll and Superintendent of the Orange County Schools Dr. Barbara Jenkins. The Florida School-Justice Partnership was founded by the Florida Supreme Court and is a collaborative effort among the courts, schools, state agencies, service providers, law enforcement and families to keep children in school and out of the court system.

In addition, Director of Research and Data Integrity Mark Greenwald gave a presentation on our current data regarding school based arrests at the state and county level, and JDAI Coordinator from the Central Region James Millan hosted a workshop regarding alternatives to detention.

Operation Reform Summit 

On Wednesday, Director of Education Julie Orange and I attended the Operation Reform Summit in Jacksonville. Operation Reform is a bipartisan summit on criminal justice reform and reentry solutions. The Summit was an action-oriented gathering of practitioners, employers, national media, and government officials from local, state, tribal, and federal offices who share in the responsibility of reducing recidivism through employment-based solutions. The summit was sponsored by the #cut50 Initiative which works to safely and smartly reduce our incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years.

These year’s Summit featured a wide array of guest speakers including Dr. Lawanda Ravoira from the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, Mayors Lenny Curry from Jacksonville, Andrew Gillum from Tallahassee and Oliver Gilbert III from Miami Gardens, nationally syndicated talk show host Clark Howard, and a video message from Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. 

Youth Success Day 

Each year, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), members of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA), the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF), and youth program providers celebrate Youth Success Day. It is hard to believe, but Youth Success Day 2016 is fast approaching! 

To celebrate youth success, DJJ selects Youth Ambassadors to be recognized at the Youth Success Day Press Conference which will be held on January 26th at 9:00 a.m. at the Florida State Capitol.  We need your help identifying youth who are celebrating success! A Youth Ambassador nomination form is linked below for your use in nominating a youth to be recognized for their success. Youth Ambassadors must have touched the juvenile justice system in some fashion and be 22 years of age or younger.   Nominations will be accepted now through December 31st   

We look forward to receiving your nomination and cannot wait to congratulate the DJJ Youth Ambassadors on their hard work towards a path to success and the inspiration that they provide for us all.

If you have questions about the nomination process or Youth Success Day, please contact Amanda Fortuna at Amanda.Fortuna@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2711. 

Detention Update

The Escambia RJDC hosted a special envoy from the People’s Republic of China on November 9th. These visitors were invited to our country by the State Department through the International Visitor Leadership Program which was arranged by the Institute of International Education and the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council.

The purpose of their visit was to provide a better understanding of the rule of law in the United States, the current legal system, the importance of a transparent and fair judicial system and the relationship between prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges.

The Escambia RJDC held a graduation ceremony for youth A.T. on November 10th at the facility. A.T. received her high school diploma from the Escambia Juvenile Detention School and according to her teacher Debbie Morrison, worked very hard to achieve her goal of graduating. AT’s hard work and achievement set a fine example for the other girls at the facility and it was very encouraging. 

The Education staff at Hillsborough West Detention Center used art projects to support our veterans on Veterans Day. Students and staff worked diligently on weaving red, white and blue construction paper strips to make places mats. In addition, the youth colored patriotic pictures and then added a statement of appreciation to each mat. These mats will be given to the Haley’s Cove Community Living Center in Tampa, which does great work with the local veteran community.

Sargent Holley Pryor from the Escambia RJDC created a fun arts and crafts activity for the young women at the facility on Veteran’s Day. The girls painted bird houses together and were very excited to speak about this activity the next day. 

Prevention Update

On October 31st, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain attended and spoke at a youth program at God’s Holy Temple Church in Quincy. The program was designed to educate youth on future employment opportunities while encouraging them to stay out of the juvenile justice system.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady volunteered during the “My Life” festival at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee on October 28th. In addition, the current probation class from the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy also volunteered during the event. 

My Life Tallahassee is a fun and inspiring group for youth between the ages of 13 and 23 who have experienced mental health, substance abuse, foster care and/or other challenges. My Life’s monthly events feature inspirational speakers, uplifting entertainment, fun activities, free food and information on a variety of topics important to youth.

Girls from the PACE Center for Girls of Palm Beach County made their annual trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia October 3-8. The girls traveled to Georgia as an incentive trip for academic and social excellence. PACE’s strength-based and asset building model addresses the unique needs of middle and high-school aged girls. When the balanced approach addresses both academic and social service needs, girls have the ability to thrive and excel. Five Palm Beach girls were given the opportunity to experience a mountain retreat get-a-way to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Because of their excellence in academics and social services, the girls earned the incentive trip of a lifetime.

The trip included cabin life for a week in the Bear Tracks Lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trip provided “teachable moments” where the girls were able to assist in preparing the daily meals, touring several local orchards, visiting the main street shops/art boutiques, tasting many local delicacies, and visiting Amicalola Falls State Park.

On October 21st, federal representatives from Washington, D.C. toured Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, a DJJ Prevention Provider, at their home base in Miami. Resa F. Matthew, Ph.D., Debbie Powell, and Amy Louttit, J.D., all from Washington, D.C. visited Miami Bridge. Dr. Matthew, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Ms. Powell, with the Family and Youth Services Bureau, helped to fund a federal grant to Miami Bridge to provide specialized services to homeless children and chronic runaways.

During their visit, they spent the day learning about Miami Bridge services and provided valuable feedback. Attorney Louttit, with the National Network for Youth, also toured the Miami shelter. Staff were thrilled to have these special guests visit the program.  Miami Bridge is a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, food and counseling for troubled youths and their families. 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.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest DJJ probation officers who graduated Friday, November 13, 2015, in a ceremony at Keiser University in Daytona Beach.  The officers will supervise youth in the community. Thanks to Cathy Lake, director of probation services for the central region, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to learning consultants Duane Pace, Barbara Campbell, Christiana Ash and adjunct instructors Sandra Johnson, Tim Denton, Stephanie McKenzie and Khalilah Daniels  for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed 4 weeks of training to become a certified officer. The graduates will work at the Regional Juvenile Probation Offices listed next to their names.

First row (Left to right):  Quintaurus Johnson – Circuit 7 – Deland, Stephanie Vazquez Circuit 9 – Kissimmee, Kelly Clark – Circuit 7 – Palatka, Jennifer Tate – Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach, Chelsi Toth – Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach, Rachel Moore – Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach, Kimberly Pinkney – Circuit 7 – Deland, Shanice Keith – Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach

Second row:  Benigno Vazquez Circuit 5 – Mt. Dora, William Davis Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach, Barry Moore Circuit 7 - Deland, Je-Marc Sears Circuit 7 – Daytona Beach, Darrion Ferguson – Circuit 7 – Deland, Lawrence Palmer – Circuit 18 – Titusville 

Probation Update

I am pleased to share the following success story from Circuit 19. Back in March, SJPO Madeline Miller, JPO Michael Potts and JJDO Daniel Holland came into contact with youth M.T. M.T. came from a pretty rough background when he was originally assigned to SJPO Miller. His mother passed away seven years ago, and his father had been recently deported back to Haiti on account of drug charges in Fort Pierce. When Miller made contact with him, M.T. had nothing and was living on the streets. 

Miller set him up with a community outreach program called, “In the Image of Christ,” which houses a program called Youth 4 Change. Youth 4 Change is an after-school and summer program that directly responds to the growing number of young people who are having a turbulent transition to adulthood. It creates a learning environment that is an invaluable resource to young people, parents, aspiring mentors, and the community at large.

Through this organization, M.T. began to turn his life around and became interested in the Job Corps. With the help of our staff members, M.T. received an interview with the Job Corps and soon began his orientation. Last Wednesday, M.T. boarded a plan in Melbourne and left to work for the Job Corps in Kentucky.

SJPO Miller visited with M.T. the night before he left and the spoke about how far he had come. He remembered his first conversation with her when he was sleeping in a park, and noted that it wasn’t until DJJ came into his life that he was able to make the changes necessary to have a full and productive adulthood.

M.T.’s transition was a long journey, but took a total team effort. On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to congratulate M.T. for all of the hard work he has put into his future as well as our staff members who helped him in every step of the way. 

Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell, Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman, and Statewide Reform Coordinator Elizabeth Phillips conducted a SNAP facilitator training for the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services last week at the Orange County Youth and Family Services Building in Orlando. Statewide SNAP Coordinator Lauren Maldonado and Headquarters staff member Lauren Floyd were also in attendance as the new facilitators did an amazing job of role playing, practicing, and learning all of the fantastic skills that SNAP has to offer.

DJJ will hold its next SNAP training on December 10th in Tallahassee. The Florida Network is also planning their first round of SNAP groups which will run in Alachua, Duval, Orange and Leon Counties beginning in January. 

JPOs Robert Scott and Phillip Minafield from Circuit 8 worked with the Gainesville Police Department on November 6th for the annual Florida Gator’s homecoming parade in downtown Gainesville. Gainesville Police Sargent Audrey Mazzuca from the Youth and Community Services Division stated that Scott and Minafield’s assistance was “immeasurable,” during the parade. Due to our JPOs personally knowing so many of the youth in attendance, they acted as liaisons and helped to keep communication open and friendly between the youth and law enforcement. Sargent Mazzuca said that their presence made a huge difference and thanks DJJ for their assistance with the event.                              

Education Update

On Nov. 12th, the students who made A-B honor roll for the first quarter at Central Pasco Girls Academy (CPGA) were treated to an “Honor Day” at the home campus of Marchman Technical College (MTC).  Principal Rob Aguis met the girls upon arrival and congratulated them on their achievements.  The girls were treated to a variety of pastries that were made by the culinary students at MTC.   Following their snack, Asst. Principal Thomas Brochu, the administrator of DJJ educational programming in Pasco County, took the girls and staff on a tour of the MTC campus.  

After the campus tour, the CPGA students were treated to a special lunch that also was prepared by the MTC culinary students.  Immediately after lunch, the girls had appointments with the MTC cosmetology students for facials, manicures, eyebrow waxing, and hair styling.  

The CPGA students and staff were truly excited about their “Day of Honor” at Marchman Technical College.  Many thanks go to Principal Aguis, Asst. Principal Brochu, CPGA Teacher Tim Guy, and all the staff at Marchman Technical College for making this special day possible for the CPGA honor roll students.  Special thanks go to the CPGA staff who supervised the girls on the visit and to CPGA Facility Administrator Kirsti Naoom for scheduling transportation and staff.   

Residential Update

At the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement’s annual statewide meeting, Office of Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker Reeves presented the fidelity adherence checklist for the curriculum titled Impact of Crime: Addressing the Harm to Victims and the Community (IOC).  The presentation was part of ongoing efforts to ensure the quality and fidelity of the curriculum.  Approximately 50 DJJ staff members attended the presentation and were asked to provide input on this fidelity measurement tool.  In addition, those contracted residential providers that teach the IOC curriculum in their programs will be providing feedback on the fidelity adherence checklist.  

About the Curriculum 

Originally created in 2001, the Office of Residential Services revised the Impact of Crime: Addressing the Harm to Victims and the Community (IOC) curriculum in 2009.  The revised IOC curriculum is a victim-impact, restorative justice curriculum, consisting of seven chapters that take approximately 24 sessions to facilitate.  Based on the philosophical principles of the balanced and restorative justice model, the lessons include competency development, community safety, and personal accountability for the harm caused by one’s behavior.  The curriculum is designed to help youth in commitment understand the harm they created by committing a crime and to teach them about being accountable for their actions.  The IOC curriculum uses cognitive restructuring in its lessons, and helps youth develop social skills, peaceful conflict resolution skills and problem-solving skills.  The Office of Residential Services offers specific training for program facilitators to learn and practice the skills specific to teaching this curriculum.  In order to provide this curriculum in residential programs, facilitators must complete 24 hours of IOC facilitator training and demonstrate a level of competency in delivering the curriculum as intended.

The students of Frances Walker Halfway House, a non-secure program for females, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Aspire Health Partners, recently enjoyed a fall festival in that included friendly competitions and a water slide.  This was the first fall festival under the direction of Director Sharon Stevens.  The event was held to celebrate the positive behaviors of the residents.

At the fall festival, the girls bobbed for apples, participated in a whipped cream “pie” eating contest, competed in Hula-Hoop™®, played on a water slide, and enjoyed a special picnic lunch.  The staff and the students enjoyed lots of laughter and fun in the sun.  

Several of the residents of Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 15, which is operated by Aspire Health Partners, interacted with the author of Make Life Work In a Fast-paced World, Turning Failure into Success, during a November 14 workshop.

The “Make Life Work” workshop provides a how-to guide of 10 essential principles that, when followed, will transform negative thinking and negative behavior cycles.  The concept focuses on the importance of asking God for help, working hard, playing by the rules, turning failure into success, remembering life is all about choices, knowing where one wants to go, possessing the power of unrelenting courage, thinking success, becoming a creator, and surrounding oneself with human inspiration. 

We are thankful for the many BGTH community partners who provide the program’s residents with opportunities to build their lives in positive directions and to grow together.

Volunteers from the staff of the Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in the Broward County Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® campaign as guest readers.  Assistant Facility Administrator Michael Williams and Health Services Administrator Danielle Beauzil, RN, joined thousands of volunteers worldwide in support of early literacy by reading a special edition of the book, Not Norman, to the students, ages 4 to 6, of Maplewood Elementary and Pembroke Road Baptist Child Development Center.  

Recently, 12 students of MYA completed the program’s second, formally structured and timed team debates on the topic of performance enhancing drugs.  Each team member was judged on his delivery and the content of his position on the topic (pro or con). 

The performance enhancing drugs discussed as part of the debate were those referenced in news stories—some of which were formerly available as over-the-counter supplements—about famous athletes.  

The debate was structured like a high school competition, teaching the students the art of persuasion.  Research suggests that students who participate in debates have improved academic performance and increased likelihood of earning a college degree.  Students must hone their research skills in order to prepare for a debate.  Each team member discusses the opposition’s argument and delivers rebuttals to refute the other team’s statements by making statements of facts that invalidate the first speaker’s remarks.  Typically, each team has only three minutes to develop its rebuttal. 

On Nov. 7, students and staff members of the Orange Youth Academy (OYA), a non-secure commitment program for males, ages 14 to 18, and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 18, which are both operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in the Stop the Violence in Our Community Walk.  City of Orlando District 6 Commissioner Samuel B. Ings and City of Orlando Police Chief John W. Mina hosted the event.  

The students helped setup information displays and passed out beverages to the walkers.  The OYA/OIYA students also enjoyed the event’s food and live entertainment.  In appreciation of their participation, the students received door prizes and the opportunity to get a haircut.  The most important lesson they learned was what each one can do on their part to prevent violence.

The next day, five OYA/OIYA students and staff members participated in the BETA Center Fashion Show.  The BETA Center has been serving Central Florida for over 30 years providing support to Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, focusing on teenage moms and at-risk families.  The students assisted with the set up process and escorted patrons to their assigned seats for the premiere fashion show.