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Secretary's Message

December 14, 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

JJSIP Update 

The Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) roll outs in Circuits 3 and 10 are now completed with the conclusion of the case studies exercise that were done on Dec. 7 and 8, respectively.  The case studies exercise brings together each agency or person who had contact with a youth prior to his or her juvenile justice commitment.  The case studies tool provides a logical flow to case review and assists in creating a picture of the youth’s development to gain a more accurate picture of the youth’s circumstances.  The goal of the case studies is to facilitate discussion about how the concepts and research behind the JJSIP project can be applied to real-life cases and assess how a case may have been handled differently by applying these concepts to a case.  The process also helps communities identify gaps in services, communication and information sharing that may exist in their area. 

In Circuit 3, a total of 20 participants took part in the case studies review.  In Circuit 10, there were a total of 13 participants.  Participants at the meetings included representatives from the courts, public school systems, SEDNET (the multiagency network for students with emotional/behavioral disabilities), local law enforcement, and the Department of Children and Families.  

Legislative Update 

On Monday, December 7, Representative Mike Miller (Orlando) and his aide toured the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (ORJDC) with Superintendent Daryl Wolf, Asst. Superintendent Roosevelt Butler, Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield and Deputy Legislative Affairs Director Jon Conley. Legislative tours are a great way to explain what the department does, show the legislator how our facilities operate, and answer any questions the legislator may have. This ensures that they have the information they need to make informed decisions about our agency and budget.

Representative Miller is a member of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, which is the department’s budget subcommittee, and ORJDC is in his district. The tour allowed the Representative to better understand the department’s legislative budget requests related to the facility, see detention operations first-hand, and appreciate how we use the funding the Legislature  appropriates. One of the highlights of the facility, of course, was visiting with Justice, the agency’s renowned therapy dog. 

From left to right: Deputy Director Jon Conley, Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield, Representative Mike Miller and Assistant Superintendent Roosevelt Butler, Superintendent Daryl Wolf (kneeling) and Justice. 

 Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation Update 

I am pleased to announce that the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) has a new website, which can be accessed here: www.fjjfoundation.org. The new site gives up-to-date information regarding the Foundation and its mission, the work they do, and board member information.

The most exciting feature is the “Donate Now” button which allows you to make a charitable donation from the comfort of your computer to the FJJF via PayPal. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, and as 2015 comes to a close, please do not forget the FJJF as you consider any end-of-the-year charitable giving.  

The mission of the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation is to solicit and steward private gifts to promote education and public safety through effective prevention, intervention, and treatment services that strengthen families and positively change the lives of troubled youth.

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) would also like to encourage your support of FJJF through its partnership with Amazon Smile.  This partnership brings a convenient and philanthropic way for you to support FJJF every time you shop, at no additional cost.  When you shop through AmazonSmile at http://smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to FJJF.  Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations.

Simply go to smile.amazon.com anytime you want to make a purchase on Amazon and search “Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation” in the search box as your charity. The proceeds from your purchase will come to FJJF and benefit our children who are in need. You can bookmark smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping. It’s easy,  charitable and the perfect way to shop this holiday season.  Thank you for supporting an important cause and making a difference in the lives of our youth! 

Call for Nominations! 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 26, 2016 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 31.     

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 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

In Case You Missed It: ‘Like a safety net’: Nonprofit helps former foster care youth thrive

Officer Ernst Pirre Louis is a shining example of perseverance and is an exceptional role model for not just the youth he serves but his coworkers as well. He was recently featured in the above linked Sun Sentinel article written about SOS Children’s Villages and the services they provide to South Florida foster youth.

I am proud to have Ernst as a part of the DJJ family, commend him for overcoming the obstacles in his life and thank him for his dedication to Florida’s youth!

Recently, Corporals Celeste Cruse and Michelle Chatterton organized and hosted the annual holiday luncheon at the Duval RJDC.  Staff members at Duval either made meals or donated money towards the luncheon. It was a great gathering as both support staff and facility staff shared in the festivities and enjoyed spending time together.  

JJDO Cynthia Goff received Officer of the Month honors for November at the Duval RJDC. Officer Goff, an 18 year seasoned veteran with DJJ, was nominated due to her good moral and honest character. She continually goes above and beyond her job requirements by assisting with the training of newly hired officers and provides a listening ear to those youth at the facility who need it. Cynthia was given a certificate for this honor, awarded a $25 dollar gift card, and given a congratulatory card from the administrators at the facility thanking her for her hard work and dedication. 

Last week I shared with you a story about the boys from the Volusia RJDC working with Operation Christmas Cards to create unique Christmas cards and artwork for our troops serving overseas. This week I am pleased to share the artwork from the girls at the facility who completed their Christmas cards for the troops. The youth worked with artists from VSAFL who conduct art education programs at our facilities while promoting the accomplishments of artists with disabilities through their artist registry, exhibitions, and performances.

As an addition to the story from Bay RJDC last week, we would like to give a special thanks to Bay RJDC’s Community Advisory Board for supplementing the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with homemade cakes and pies.  Each year for the past six years, the dedicated advisory board members utilize this opportunity to reach out to our youth and remind them they are still in their thoughts, especially during the holiday season.  In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the education liaison Anne Martin speaks with the youth that will spend their holiday at Bay RJDC and gathers a list of their favorite desserts.  Then the community advisory board gets to work!  The advisory board will also be providing this for the Christmas meal as well. 

In addition to making sure each youth has more than enough delicious food, Bay RJDC ensures that staff who are working that day are also provided a bountiful meal as a special thanks to them for spending time away from their families.         

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest DJJ detention officers who graduated Friday, December 11, 2015, in a ceremony at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway, Florida. The Juvenile Justice Detention Officers supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to learning consultants Artavia Parrish, Barbara Campbell, Duane Pace, instructors Cina Wilson Johnson and Jeff Powell for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The graduates will work at the Regional Juvenile Detention Centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Top Row (Left to right):  Derek Nguyen – Bay RJDC, Kendrick Gavin – Leon RJDC, Kinga Harrison – Duval RJDC, Carla Lone – Palm Beach RJDC, Maquisia Guyton – St. Lucie RJDC, Michael Perkins – Brevard RJDC, Brain Lambert – St. Lucie RJDC, William Devault – Collier RJDC, and Gregory Freeman – Marion RJDC

Second Row:  Reginald Henry – Okaloosa RJDC, Charles Christopher – Miami-Dade RJDC,  Angel Rodriguez – Southwest FL RJDC, Phillip Farrior – Okaloosa RJDC, Tracy Blackshear – Okaloosa RJDC, Celina Gayle – Duval RJDC, Eric Young – Alachua RJDC, Travin Wilkerson – Bay RJDC, Taurian Uptgrow – Miami-Dade RJDC, Christian Taylor – Palm Beach RJDC, and Timothy Halcomb – Duval RJDC

Third Row:  James Chipman – Orange RJDC, William Reed – Brevard RJDC, and Jarvis Campbell – Alachua RJDC

Prevention Update

Antonia, a former resident of the Miami Bridge program, wrote a thank you letter to one of the shelter’s Youth Activity Workers, Jimmy Brown, as she was being discharged from the shelter. The letter read: 

“Dear Mr. Jimmy, 

“Sadly, it’s time for me to go, but that doesn’t mean I’ll forget about you. You always had my back even when I didn’t have my own. Even when I was at the bottom of the mountain, somehow you made me feel like I was at the top. And for that I thank you.” 

Staff at the Bridge said they were “honored to create this type of emotion in our kids.”

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.

The Prodigy Cultural Arts Program in Hillsborough County hosted the “I am Prodigy Music Festival,” on December 3 in celebration of the program’s 15th anniversary. The festival featured an array of cultural and local musical acts including: Fred Johnson, Tom Ziegelhofer, James Crumbly, The Collective, Hyfa tha Prospect, FS 88 Drum Line & Step Team of Prodigy Boys & Girls Club Brandon, Tampa I Prodigy and Prodigy Moves.  Other entertainment included an art walk featuring Junior Polo and Vivian Fisk.

The Prodigy Cultural Arts Program uses an innovative approach to educate and enable at-risk youth, providing a doorway to a better world. Youth ages 7-17 experience performing and visual arts, taught as a tool for self-expression, to learn communication, exploration, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills.

Established in 2000, when University Area CDC was two years old, Prodigy has thrived and is achieving its mission of transforming lives. With the championing of Sen. Victor Crist, funding from DJJ and leadership of the University Area CDC, the program covers 7 counties, with 13 partner sites and 42 programming locations. In 2014, more than 3,400 youth experienced the benefits of Prodigy.

Girls from the PACE Center for girls in Manatee County attended the PACE Girls Rock: Believing in Girls Luncheon on November 5 at the Renaissance Hotel in Bradenton. More than 300 guests joined 30 current and 10 former PACE girls for the celebratory luncheon.  During the event, five PACE girls delivered Spoken Word performances where they expressed who they are as PACE girls.

Former PACE girl, Leah Patten, spoke about her life in foster care, the impact PACE had on her life, and where she is today as a nurse, student and mother.  Mary Marx, President & CEO of PACE Inc. also joined the festivities for the day. 

 I am pleased to announce the Rev. John Baldwin II as DJJ’s newest partner in the Faith Network in Daytona Beach. On November 19, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain met with Rev. Baldwin at Bethune-Cookman University (BCU), where he serves as a policy advisor, to discuss our Faith Network and the exciting opportunities for both BCU staff and students who are working in the campus chaplaincy program. Staff and students alike are eager to roll up their sleeves and start working with our DJJ youth. Currently, there are more than 5,000 members of the DJJ Faith Network. 

Residential Update

Last week, Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker Reeves assisted in overseeing a Train The Trainer class for the Impact of Crime: Addressing the Harm to Victims and the Community (IOC) curriculum.  The class was held at the Pompano Youth Treatment Center.  Participants learned IOC concepts, chapter lessons, and implementation guidelines.  All participants did a great job in demonstrating effective group facilitation skills and completing the required class presentations.  

Class trainers and participants included (Front Row):  Nicos Antonakos, Maritza Vizcarrondo,  Rokeisha Gloster, Joane Joseph, Xavier Robinson, Kourtney Dollard, and (Back Row) Dwayne Jones, Louis Haneef, Adrian Pearson, Artillery Williams, and Darrell Russell.

Although December 1 was World AIDS Day, every day in DJJ’s residential programs is used to educate the young people in our care about this infectious disease.  Upon admission to a commitment program, each youth is offered testing for HIV/AIDS.  Each youth also is screened for sexually transmitted infections, as well as provided testing.  Every resident is taught about the health implications of such infections and how to stay infection free.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) are unaware of the infection.  The CDC estimates that more than 1.2 million people, ages 13 and older, are living with HIV.  That includes more than 150,000 (12.8%) who are unaware that they are infected.  Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable.  However, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level—particularly among certain groups.

That’s why the Annual World AIDS Day offers such a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn more about HIV, moving the world towards the goal of an AIDS-free generation.  A main activity developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is to strive to reach all vulnerable youth and neglected populations. 

In DJJ residential programs, nursing and educational staff members provide continuing education to our youth throughout their stay.   

For more information about World AIDS Day, please check out the library of educational resources at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/awareness/wad.html and  http://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/

Duval Academy, a non-secure facility for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., rewarded six young men with the opportunity to enjoy equine therapy every Friday for a six-week period at the Haven Horse Ranch in St. Augustine.  They brush, feed, and take care of the horses and then enjoy riding the horses.  This therapeutic opportunity focuses on teaching the young men skills to care for the animals while also assisting them with ways to control their temperament while riding, which can transcend in to their everyday interactions with others. 

Haven Horse Ranch Executive Director Ric Lehman spends time every Friday with the young men after their day at the ranch.  He shares words of encouragement and some of his life experiences in an effort to positively affect  each youth.  The staff at Haven Horse Ranch share their philosophies with the boys that it is not “hard work but heart work” that will make the difference in their lives. 

On the last day of November, Duval Academy staff and residents saluted their veterans.  Honorees represented the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. 

Shown right (from left to right) : W. Bingham (Army),  R. Griggs (Navy), O. West (Marine Corps), D.  McClendon (Army), and D. Green (Navy).

Last month, youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, volunteered at Jacksonville’s Habitat for Humanity ReStores, an independently owned and operated not-for-profit store that benefits the local Habitat for Humanity.

ReStores is a home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials, and more to the public at a subsidized cost.  Proceeds from ReStores are used to build homes, communities, and hope locally and around the world. 

The JYA residents volunteered by stocking shelves and working as customer service representatives, assisting customers with purchases and moving furniture. 

This past Sunday, the residents of JYA, Orange Youth Academy (OYA), Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility, and Gulf Academy—all of which are non-secure programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC,—participated in a flag football tournament.  The game was hosted by Hastings. 

In the first game, OYA took the win against JYA.  However, in the second game the young men from Hastings and Gulf Academy were able to defeat OYA.  In the end, Hastings won the championship title with a score of 7 to 6 against OYA.  All youth had a great time while displaying remarkable sportsmanship throughout the tournament.

Office of Health Services Update

On December 3, members from the DJJ Office of Health Services partnered with WFSU for the professional video recording of the Mental Health Training Curriculum for Juvenile Justice (MHTC-JJ) in Orlando. The MHTC-JJ was presented by ten certified DJJ trainers who received training in 2013 on the curriculum from the National Center for Mental Health and subsequently provided MHTC-JJ regional trainings to over 200 DJJ staff members across the state.  

The MHTC-JJ presentation provides information regarding adolescent development, mental health disorders commonly seen among juvenile justice youth, treatment services often used with justice-involved youth, and practical strategies for interacting and communicating with youth with mental health needs and their families.

WFSU worked with the Office of Health Services, Staff Development and Training and MIS to edit the recorded presentation of this training for placement on Skill Pro. For more information regarding this training visit the Office of Health Services page.

Special thanks to the MHTC-JJ trainers: Philip Amorgianos, G4S, Dahlia Kaplan, G4S, Stephanie Savo, YSI, Darrell Bacon, DJJ, John Beck, DJJ-OHS, Christine Gurk, DJJ-OHS, Melissa Johnson, DJJ, Ramona Salazar, DJJ, Gayla Sumner, DJJ-OHS and April Walker-DJJ.  Special thanks also to Joy Bennink, OHS, and MIS staff Florence Doggett and Paul Prado for assisting with the project.  

Probation Update 

Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell, Statewide Reform Coordinator Elizabeth Phillips, and Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman from Circuit 8 conducted a SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) facilitator training to staff members from the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services November 16-20 in Orlando. I am pleased to share this e-mail from Dr. Tracy Salem from the Orange County Youth and Family Services regarding the training her staff received. Kuddos to Jeannie, Elizabeth and Melanie for all their hard work during this training.

Good Morning Network- 

I just want to let you know the trainers that you sent for SNAP are wonderful.  They have been very professional, very engaging, and very informative.  The staff that I have sent through the first round of training are just thrilled with the way this has been done.  

Thank you so much for providing us with the tools necessary to be successful.  

Have a great weekend and Thanksgiving holiday.  

Dr. Tracy Salem

Youth and Family Services Manager

Youth from AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) were treated to a visit from members of the United States Coast Guard last week. Recently, representatives from AMI made an in-depth presentation of the facility on the Coast Guard base and it went over so well that members of the Coast Guard wanted to come over and see the facility for themselves. They loaded up two of their patrol craft and came across the bay for a quick tour.

One Guardsman asked what they could do to help, and the AMI representative told him that they are always looking for tutors for the students. The Coast Guard pledged that they were committed to creating a working relationship with PCMI in order to help the students achieve their potential. The men were shown around by two students, Keynota and Kiara. After talking to the different Coast Guardsmen, Kiara said; “I didn’t know the Coast Guard had so many different jobs you could do!” 

Probation staff from Circuit 17 collaborated with the local Children’s Services Advisory Board, the Children Services Council, and the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition for a Cross Systems Training on December 7. This free training was designed to teach new front line staff of various agencies within the circuit working with families and children about how to navigate through various child-serving and transitional youth programs. Reform Specialist Tina Robinson was on hand to provide an overview of DJJ services. 

Circuit 9 Probation in Osceola County has partnered with the Kissimmee Police Department (KPD) to establish a juvenile curfew monitoring system. This system focuses on moderate to high risk youth and includes monitoring the youth’s curfew as well as their activities within the city’s jurisdiction. In this system, KPD officers’ conduct curfew checks and immediately notify our juvenile probation officers (JPOs) of their results. Many of the JPOs work the same area, which helps to strengthen the rapport between youth, their families, and KPD. This project has yielded some pretty lofty results. KPD recently sent over some statistics and have found that out of the 193 curfew checks completed since August 1, 83% of our youth have been home or following probation stipulations.

Youth in Circuit 9 participated in a community services project during the month of November entitled, “Teens Learning to Care,” which included the makeover of a vegetable garden at the local DJJ probation office. The garden was established in 2012 by Community Service Worksite Coordinator Barbara McNealy and allows those civil citation and probationary youth the opportunity to work in the garden where they prepare, plant, monitor, and harvest vegetables that are donated to local agencies who feed those less fortunate. 

Each of the youth earned valuable services hours all while experiencing meaningful service in the community. During this last project, one of the parents donated and assisted with the planting of poinsettias around the grounds of the facility. Probation staff in Circuit 9 would like to thank Home Depot for donating plants and gift cards that were used to purchase supplies for the garden, Lowes for donating seeds, Orange County Utilities and Solid Waste Department for donating the soil, Home Builders Institute (HBI) for building the beds and the parents for donating and planting the poinsettias.  The makeover would have been impossible without their donations and support.

The Circuit 13 Girls Court in Hillsborough County held a special session on December 3 through the Honorable Circuit Judge Barbara Twine-Thomas. The purpose of the special session was to provide additional services and wraparound support to help the girls reach their infinite potential. Attorney Grimes and Hillsborough County School Transition Specialist Chrissy Dorian also addressed the girls and their parents on this date to commend them on their progress.  “Swag Bags” full of goodies donated by the law offices of Ward and Seward were given to all the young ladies in attendance.  Circuit 13 DJJ probation staff were on hand to update the court on the girls’ progress and remained for the entirety of this special court session to support, praise and congratulate youth for their successes. Girls’ court was first held here in Hillsborough County in July of 2015 and since its inception, improvements have been noted in participants’ attendance, school enrollment and successful completions of probation for girls who otherwise were not progressing with their court ordered sanctions.  

Eight probationary youth from Circuit 13 participated in the inaugural Male Initiative mentoring event on November 24 at the local DJJ office. This event was conducted by our local JPOs and centered on the topic of attitude and responsibility. The youth were very receptive and motivated to participate in the mentoring program and all eight agreed to participate in the next event. The Male Initiative is a fun-filled event that focuses on providing community service opportunities to those youth on probation. I would like to thank JPO Arthur Russell, JPO Jimmy Close, JPO James Jolly, JPO Ivan Colon, JPO Dexter Battle, JPO Alex Lubin, JPO Kenson Vincent and JDAI coordinator James Millan for collaborating, coordinating and making this event a success!