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Secretary's Message

March 28, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children 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 a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all do – on and off the clock – to enrich our 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

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Last week, Director of Administration Vickie Harris hosted a breakfast to honor those DJJ staff members who were instrumental in assessing and repairing the damages in the field left behind in the wake of Hurricane Irma.  Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht and myself were pleased to extend our thanks and congratulations to all who played such a critical part in this effort.

As you may remember, Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys before making landfall of the Western coast of Florida before traveling up the peninsula. It stands as the fifth-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history with an estimated $53.4 billion dollars in property damage. Our Department, and more importantly our facilities, were heavily impacted by the storm. Six months later, we are still recovering.

Pictured above (from left to right): Chief of General Services Roger Kesling, myself and Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht

Dealing with this devastation and the damage due to the hurricane took a team of dedicated professionals over many program areas. Our facility maintenance crews, as well as our staff members in support services, contracts and purchasing, all played a hand in the recovery efforts.

These employees were in direct contact with FEMA as well as our insurance companies to make sure that our facilities were cleaned up properly and built back better than they were before. Each employee who was instrumental in this monumental task was honored during this breakfast with a certificate. On behalf of the entire agency, please congratulate them on a job well done!     

Congratulations to Circuit 1 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Dallas Rich who was named the circuit’s Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2018. JPO Rich made 90% of his monthly contacts and developed a tracking system for probation youth to ensure that monthly contacts are being completed. His tracking system also ensures that Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT) and the Youth-Empowered Success (YES) plans are updated in the appropriate time frames. JPO Rich continues to show leadership in his Unit 103 and we are very thankful for his efforts.

Pictured above: JPO Dallas Rich (right) and his supervisor Fredrick Vrgora.

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) Dawneika Brown from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named Employee of the Month for the Central Region of Detention Services for the month of February. JDO Brown is always willing to assist other staff members, stays late to help, and maintains a positive attitude. JDO Brown was nominated for this award by Major Adrian Mathena and Captain Louise Hill.

Pictured above (from left to right): Major Adrian Mathena, JDO Dawneika Brown and Captain Louise Hill. 

Congratulations to Larry Lawrence (pictured below right) and Brett Ross (pictured below left with Chief of IT Dennis Hollingsworth) for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for February 2018.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process.  Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.


PACE Girls Receive a Visit From the British Consulate

The PACE Center for Girls of Miami observed International Women’s Day at their facility with a visit from the British Consulate. Students from PACE Miami spent an informative afternoon with the British Consulate General Dave Prodger and his staff learning about the work Britain is doing to support women, the suffrage movement, and the work Britain is doing throughout the world.

After an interactive discussion, the students participated in a question and answer session. The intriguing questions posed by the students showed they had fully understood the topic and that they recognize their role as women in the United States. It was difficult to close the session since questions were flowing from the students. 

It was stressed to the girls that Great Britain and the United States have always been great allies and both countries work on similar efforts with great success. This was a great lesson for the students to apply to their lives.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson attended the Prodigy Showcase at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts in Orlando to help celebrate Prodigy Month. The theme of the showcase was Prodigy: Past, Present and Future. Prodigy displayed the youth’s visual art, improvisational comedy, dance, and a music production. The youth showed their many talents to their community and paid tribute to the past and present creative arts, and had the audience ready for the future.

The Mistress of Ceremonies was Ericka Dunlap, the first African-American woman crowned Miss Florida. Orlando City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings presented Prodigy with a proclamation declaring the month of March Prodigy Month in the City of Orlando.

Pictured above (from left to right): Mike Trepper, Prodigy Director; Dionne Anderson, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; and LaSonashia McFadden, Resident Services Manager

Prodigy is a research-based prevention and diversion program for at-risk youth, ages 5-18. Prodigy uses visual and performing arts to help young people develop life skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving, anger management, career aspirations, and goal setting. Each art class is taught by a professional artist who serves as a mentor and teacher. Through art, young people build self-confidence, learn to showcase their skills and develop lifelong positive habits for future success.

Detention Facility Receives Visit from Local Rapper and Girls Decorate Easter Cookies

The Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted an Easter cookie decorating contest with the help of Corporal Yolanda Teamer and facility mentor Ms. Martinez for the Level 3 girls. All of the girls had a wonderful time participating in this unique arts activity. A big thank you to Captain Courtney Preston for providing the supplies.

Sargent Pierre Sainval and Sargent Jamaurie Lockett from the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center coordinated a visit with rapper Ice Billion Berg from Miami along with his team to come and speak to the youth at the facility. The group spoke to the youth about life choices, dreams and any talents they may have. Ice Billion Berg and his Life House team spent most of the bravo shift at Southwest sharing their real life experiences, offering words of encouragement and hosting an open mic where the youth had a chance to show off their talents. After his presentation, the team held a question and answer session before having lunch with the officers. Ice Billion Berg said that he enjoyed his time at Southwest and would like to visit the facility again.

Circuit Advisory Board Hosts Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conversation

The Circuit 12 Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board’s Racial and Ethnic Disparity (RED) Subcommittee recently hosted a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) Conversation at the Manatee County downtown library in Bradenton. The conversation was moderated by Circuit Judges Charles Williams and Theresa “Teri” Kaklis Dees. Youth from Teen Court, the Healthy Teens Coalition, Project Bridge, PACE Center for Girls, the AMIkids school, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Explores Group attended this meeting along with officers from the Bradenton Police Department and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. All of the attendees enjoyed an evening of good conversation and fellowship.

The Circuit 6 probation team hosted a provider panel for new juvenile probation officers in Pinellas and Pasco Counties on March 16. The panel consisted of sixteen local providers who shared information on the services they provide. This session provided a wealth of helpful guidance to all of the new officers in Circuit 6.

Residential Youth Volunteer with Strawberry Festival and Make a Trip to the Zoo

Earlier this month, several youth from Marion Youth Academy’s HBI class, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, operated by Sequel, volunteered in the set-up, operation and teardown of the annual “Habitat for Humanity Strawberry Festival” held in Ocala, Florida. The festival featured live entertainment, a display of a variety of foods, carnival rides, and numerous other events. With over 65,000 people in attendance the youth handled themselves in a respectful, honorable and professional manner representing both Sequel and HBI.

A few days later, the HBI’s Teen Build observed and participated in the construction of a site-built home. The youth were able to assist in the block wall construction. Thanks to Boutwell Construction for this incredible opportunity.

The following day, the HBI’s Teen Build had an amazing adventure. The youth helped out at a local food bank located in Ocala to begin the renovations on the facility after it was damaged during the most recent hurricane. It was a lot of hard work, but the youth did an amazing job. The youth even met some of the community members that were blessed by their actions.

Seventeen youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, enjoyed a fun filled day visiting the Jacksonville Zoo. The experience was a first for several of the Jacksonville Youth Academy residents. The tour guide educated the youth on the awareness and conservation of plants, animals and natural resources.

The staff at Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, took seven youth to the Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Daytona to test the theory of how high a youth can fly if they put their mind to it. The youth took to the trampolines and played dodgeball, basketball, jousting, participated in a ninja warrior course and free jumping. The youth had a great time jumping and engaging in the various activities.

The Hastings and Gulf Youth Academy also recently took eight youth to Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum in St. Augustine. The youth were amazed by the weird and wonderful artifacts and art displays. There was everything from shrunken heads to art made from matchsticks and the youth raved about seeing things they had never seen before.

The weather at the Hastings and Gulf Academy has been picture-perfect for a little football. Under the supervision of the recreational therapist, Andrew Crowley, the youth have been practicing different offensive and defensive drills. Afterwards, the youth displayed what they learned in an action-packed game.

Bartow Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the privilege of having a Job Corp recruiter come to speak to the youth. Community Case Manager LeVert Threats and TSM Derrell King facilitated the appearance and met with the recruiter to explain how BYA provides vocational and educational activities to the boys. The Job Corp recruiter provided the youth with a pamphlet and application and discussed the admission process, the different sites in the U.S., living arrangements, income and allowance, and education/vocation training. The youth appeared to enjoy the discussion and interacted a lot with the recruiter. There were a lot of good points that appeared to resonate with the boys.

Bartow Youth Academy also took two of its All-Star level youth to Golden Corral. Community Case Manager LeVert Threats, TSM Derrell King, and Recreation Therapist Tori Palma accompanied the youth on this outing. These two youth fulfilled a behavior contract completed by the program in order to participate in this special outing. The youth interacted with the Golden Corral staff, BYA staff, and customers in the restaurant.