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Secretary's Message

July 2, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

This week, Americans all across the country will pause to observe the Fourth of July. As we celebrate our nation’s freedom, we honor the courageous men and women dedicated to preserving it. I wish each of you and your families a happy and safe Independence Day.

I would also like to give a special thank you to our direct care staff who will be away from their family and friends on this day in order to continue to provide continuous service to the youth under our care. 


Christina K. Daly

FCCD Honors DJJ Employees During Awards Banquet

Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, and I attended the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency’s (FCCD) Chapter Two awards banquet on June 21 at the Seminole Golf Club in Tallahassee. Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht took home the Louie L. Wainright Award for Distinguished Service, and Deputy Manager Marcus Smith from the Office of Prevention was honored with the Chapter 2 Juvenile Justice Services Award.

Pictured above (from left to right): Marcus Smith, DJJ; Sgt. Teresa Howard, Leon County Sheriff’s Office; Eddie Hand, FCCD President; Debbie Kissane, Department of Corrections; Melinda Coonrod, Florida Commission on Offender Review; Robin Hassler Thompson, Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center; Fred Schuknecht, DJJ

Winners of Phase One of DJJ and NCIL’s Summer Reading Contest Announced

The National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL) has teamed up with DJJ to combine literacy skills and fun in the classroom with the Clash of the Heroes competition this summer! Hundreds and hundreds of voters confirmed the overall winner from Florida DJJ programs. For phase one of the contest, students created an audio file recording of the first issue of AR Chronicles. Students were encouraged to produce a fluid, original reading of the comic. Congratulations to Eckerd Challenge Youth Academy for an amazing recording complete with sound effects. 

Phase 1 also included the creation of a superhero character for inclusion in a future edition of AR Chronicles. Fan favorite was A’Storya (shown left), created by a student from PACE Hillsborough.  A’Storya will be featured in a special edition AR Chronicles comic book. 

Upcoming in the contest, students will build upon the previous stage to create a backstory and introduction for A’Storya.  Phase two voting begins on July 11. For more information about the contest and to view Phase 1 winning submissions please click here.

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Captain Sherell Cummings from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center who recently completed her course in Certified Public Management from the Florida State University. Captain Cummings was honored at the facility by Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler, North Regional Director Colette Antozzi, and Major Conrad McCray.

Congratulations to Administrative Assistant Franklin Watson, Supervisor Erick Delgado and Juvenile Detention Officer Sherif Brown who were each named Employees of the Month for the Central Region for the month of May. Each employee received a certificate and a gift card.

Office of Prevention Hosts Provider Training

DJJ staff members from the Office of Prevention and Victim Services, Background Screening Unit, Bureau of Contract Management and Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement conducted a training titled “What Providers Need to Know When Doing Business with the State of Florida,” at the LeRoy Collins Public Library in Tallahassee. After opening remarks by Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Budget Administrator Brent Musgrove delivered a presentation titled “Show Me the Money!”

Director of DJJ Background Screening Unit Myra Burks delivered information in a session titled “Are Your Staff Clear to Work” that dealt with the importance of background screening for providers. Bureau Chief for Contract Management Beth Davis delivered a presentation titled “Now, What Exactly Does My Contract Say” that stressed the importance for providers to be familiar with their contracts. Christopher Goodman and Jennifer Bailey from the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement explained the significance of monitoring to ensure that providers can be more successful. Program Director Agatha Muse-Salters of the Restoring Families program said, “The training was very good for new providers. It was all relevant information and it was laid out correctly. At times it can be overwhelming, but it was presented very well.”

Providers in attendance included Living Stones International, Inc., Covenant Restoration International, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida, Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls, Inc. and Gadsden Counties Restoring Families Program.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims addressed the recent graduates from the Florida Youth Challenge Academy Class 34 in Camp Blanding. Assistant Secretary Sims provided words of encouragement and advice to the graduates and congratulated each of them on their outstanding accomplishments.  She also commended the staff, family and friends for their guidance, leadership and support of the young people. At the graduation, six students were awarded scholarships from the Florida Youth Challenge Academy and Construction Career Days. 

The mission of the Youth Challenge Academy is “to provide a highly disciplined and motivational environment, free from outside distractions, which fosters academics, leadership, development, personal growth, self-esteem and physical fitness for qualifying high school dropouts.”

Pictured above: Brigadier General Trey Chauncey, Assistant Adjutant General Training Installations & Programs (left) and Alice Sims

Fourteen individuals and organizations were recently recognized for outstanding contributions in the service of Florida’s children who are at risk of falling into the delinquency and child welfare systems. The recognitions were presented at the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services’ Annual Awards Luncheon at the Omni Amelia Island as part of the Florida Network’s recent annual meeting. The services provided by the member agencies and shelters of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services play a critical role in the fight against youth homelessness, truancy, sex trafficking of Florida’s children and other critical issues that threaten Florida’s families.

Leaders and agencies that have embodied the vision and core values of the Florida Network this year were eligible to receive an award at the event. Among the award winners was Senator Rob Bradley, receiving the Chairman’s Leadership Award. 

The 2018 Florida Network Annual Awards winners are:

  • Agency of the Year – Lutheran Services of Florida Oasis Youth Shelter (Fort Myers)
  • Agency of the Year – Tampa Housing Authority (Tampa)
  • Network Executive of the Year – Felicia Wells (Youth Advocate Program – Tampa)
  • Program of the Year – Stop Now and Plan, Orange County Youth & Family Services (Orlando)
  • Outstanding Program Leadership – Shad Renick, Sarasota YMCA (Sarasota)
  • Youth Care Worker of the Year – Erick Scott, Lutheran Services of Florida Oasis Youth Shelter (Fort Myers)
  • Nurse of the Year – Tracy Scott, Miami Bridge (Miami)
  • Outstanding Counselor – Dainara Acevedo, Tampa Housing Authority (Tampa)
  • Outstanding Counselor – Diana Davila, Lutheran Services of Florida Lippman Youth Shelter (Broward)
  • Networker of the Year – Jesse Jordan, Family Resources (Manatee and Pinellas County)
  • President’s Award – Miami Bridge (Miami) 
  • Chairman’s Leadership Award – Senator Rob Bradley (Duval and Clay County)
  • Youth Resilience Award – Haley, CCYS (Tallahassee)
  • Youth Resilience Award – Casiy, Orange County Youth & Family Services (Orlando)

Detention Staff Host Employee Appreciation Events

The Brevard Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently teamed up with the Circuit 18 Probation Office in Brevard County for their second annual Bridging the Gap and Employee Appreciation Day at the Center. Central Region Director for Detention Services Monica Gray hosted the training for the day, while Assistant Chief Probation Officer Omar Bohler presented a PowerPoint on “The Art of Verbal De-escalation.”

Donna Bolton from the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) made a presentation about her organization and how employees can get involved with the many different programs that partner with FCCD. In addition, Chief Probation Office Denise Devlin and Major Margie McKinney showed their appreciation for their staff members by providing a barbeque lunch. The day ended with music, a little dancing and water balloon dodge ball.

The Duval Detention Community Advisory Board is very supportive of youth both in and upon release from the facility. The board recently presented a former DJJ youth who was recently released from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center with a small gift to celebrate his release.

Pictured on right: Major Mark Refour (far left) and Advisory Board Chair Vernon Washington (far right) with youth JB and his mother.

The administration staff from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center provided breakfast trays for all staff members at the facility. The breakfast was served by Leon Advisory Board Chair Sargent George Creamer of the Tallahassee Police Department and by Board Secretary Dr. Genea Crump of the Leon County School Board. The breakfast was a wonderful gesture to show staff appreciation for all the hard work they put in on a daily basis.

Pictured (from left to right): Dr. Genea Crump, Major Conrad McCray and Sargent George Creamer.

Head Nurse Manager Jacqueline Trumble at Orange RJDC was recently presented with a certificate of appreciation for her time spent with the facility. Nurse Trumble served at Orange RJDC with a dynamic personality, passion for the job, and desire to make a positive impact on the center. Orange RJDC wishes her well as she will be moving out of state with her family.

Pictured on right (from left to right): Captain Reginald Allen, Ms. Jacqueline Trumble, Major Adrian Mathena, Captain Louise Quick

DJJ Students Take Part in Nursing Assistant Training Program

A core component of Rite of Passage’s academic model is providing high quality career technical skills and training to our youth. Student athletes at Joann Bridges Academy can now participate in a new certified nursing assistant training program. Through the program, eligible students are enrolled in a medical skills course taught by a licensed registered nurse. Upon completion of the course, a full elective course credit is earned.  When the student reaches the age of 18, they become eligible to take the Florida Board of Nursing’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Exam to become licensed. 

Recently, four students successfully completed the first cycle of the semester long medical skills course. These students have been guided in attaining the book knowledge and practical skills necessary to earn their certification. Working as a CNA will allow them to utilize all the skills learned throughout the program and return to their communities equipped to participate as productive citizens.  

Probationary Youth Attends Graduation Ceremony

Youth HF is a success story that attests to the long term commitment of the Department to its mission and the dedication of service by its many community partners. Youth HF is being served by Project Connect, the north region transition services provider, and was referred for these services by JPO Dominique Bryant. She recently participated in the Pensacola PACE Center for Girls graduation ceremony as one of their transition students. In addition, she has been attending GED classes through Pathways for Change. Youth HF's academic success was truly a community collaborative effort.

Project Connect Transition Specialist Penelope Mihas stated, "PACE Center for Girls graduation motto is 'She believed she could, so she did.'  In Youth HF's case that is so true. Youth HF has shown amazing determination, motivation and resiliency. She has learned to set goals for herself in order to make positive things happen. She has completed over 500 community service hours to pay her court fees in their entirety. She has also earned her driver’s permit and with the assistance of her wonderful Project Connect Life Coach Julia Venturi, has earned her hair braiding certification. Youth HF has completed all employability, social and life skills courses and has just started her first job! She also plans on enrolling in Pensacola State College's Cosmetology program in the fall.

JPO Bryant recently set up a hearing with Judge Robinson in Circuit 1. The judge was very pleased with Youth HF’s success and gladly terminated her probation. Youth HF expressed a desire to continue with Project Connect services after release so she could receive college enrollment and financial aid application services. Judge Robinson was happy to hear this and encouraged Youth HF to seek the advice and assistance of Project Connect’s Life Coach even after their services ended.

Circuit 19 Reform Specialist Chris Seagrist recently attended a Men of Purpose community event in Port St. Lucie, sponsored by our Faith Community Network partner Life-Changing Ministries.

Men of Purpose is a group focused on inspiring more men to become active members and role models in their communities. The event had vendors from the VA Hospital and Faith Community Network partners.

Residential Staff Attend TRACE Workshop and Youth Continue with Equine Therapy

The Department of Juvenile Justice, in coordination with Dr. Monique Marrow, recently rolled out the Trauma Responsive and Caring Environment (TRACE) workshop for the Northwest, Northeast, Central, and South regions. Dr. Marrow serves as an instructional leader for the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice. The workshops focused on understanding the application of the TRACE and utilizing trauma responsive practices throughout facility programming. The workshops discussed the importance of using a “Champions Team” in coordination with staff and youth surveys to identify opportunities for program and environment improvement.

As part of the workshop, programs who had previously implemented the TRACE were invited to showcase their achievements with the tool.

These presenters included Joe Nixon from Kissimmee Youth Academy, Michael Baglivio from True Core Behavioral, and Katina Hill-Thompson from Palm Beach Youth Academy. 

Pictured (from left to right): Garrett Tucker, Dr. Monique Marrow, and Vanessa Wicker

Trained by the O.K. Corral Series Therapist, Tricia Fagan from Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, is given the wonderful opportunity to share her love of horses. Through equine assisted therapy, she uses natural behavior of horses to assist individuals in developing problem solving and communication skills as well as increase their self-esteem.

They begin the process of developing self-esteem by overcoming hesitations of working with a large animal. Through experiential exercises, youth learn the importance of effective communication skills.

In learning about a horses body language and their responses to the humans working with them, youth can learn about themselves and begin the process to changing thought and behavior patterns.

Youth have reported feeling peace when working with the horses. In the picture to the left, two youth who experienced the life changing event of losing a parent while in the program partake in equine therapy. They reported an extremely positive experience and feeling hopeful and peaceful after working with the horses.

Crestview Youth Academy BDD/DD, a non-secure facility for boys ages 13-18, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, took some time off campus to compete in a friendly game of basketball against their rival/neighboring program, Okaloosa Youth Academy. Thanks to their involved community, the youth were able to have the court at Twin Hills Recreational Park all to themselves! The youth competed in a few 3 on 3 tournament games and then played the opposing academy in a 5 on 5 game. The youth from both facilities displayed impeccable sportsmanship and skill! Crestview Youth Academy will be re-challenging Okaloosa Youth Academy in the near future for a re-match game!

Crestview Youth Academy’s non-secure program also ventured off campus recently with one goal in mind: to give back to the community and gain some muscles in the process! They started at Crestview High School where the youth picked up trash and debris around the campus. The campus sits on 3.5 acres of land, so the youth really had their work cut out for them! They successfully tidied up the campus and collected quite a few bags of trash.

The next stop was Davidson Middle School where the boys were in for a real treat! They participated in a controlled weight lifting class that taught them how to properly lift weights and how to build specific muscle groups. The class lasted approximately 45 minutes and gave the boys a great work-out.

The youth at Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, enjoyed a day at Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park as a reward for good behavior during the month of June. The youth enjoyed a day of dodgeball, obstacle courses, bull riding and slam dunk basketball.  

Jacksonville Youth Academy also participated in AMI Jacksonville’s inaugural 3 on 3 Basketball tournament. Teams from JYA and AMIkids clashed on the court shooting three pointers, lay ups and making assists. After a healthy day of competition and three rounds of intense basketball, JYA came out victorious as the champions! Special thanks to AMI Jacksonville for the invitation.  

Youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel, along with the Duval Academy Advisory Board recently attended the Paint the Town Project. The group worked all day to repaint a few homes in Jacksonville. The project supports seniors, the elderly and our veterans. The youth really enjoyed giving back to the community and helping beautify the homes of people who aren’t physically able to do it.

Youth from Lake Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 19, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, participated in a concert performed by the Freedom Tour Choir from the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina. The choir consisted of teenage youth girls and boys who committed their summer to touring the state of Florida sharing their stories and experiences through encouraging motivational music.

All 50 Lake Academy youth and staff participated and were actively engaged in the choir presentation. A special than you to Cindy Lane for making the arrangements and for all her hard work to ensure this special event happened.

Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys ages 15 to 21, operated by Sequel, had its end of the school year graduation commencement ceremony. This year the program had 17 graduates. The 10 that were still in the program had a chance to put on their cap and gowns and participate in the ceremony with their other class mates. The program was very fortunate to have the distinction of having Assistant Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ruiz not only in attendance but as its keynote speaker. Most of the residents had their respective families in attendance who got to take part in the special occasions. In addition to several distinguished guests from the school district, DJJ Educational Liaison Peter Keelan was onsite to greet the group of graduates as well as community advisory board member Megan Eaton, who also currently serves as head of the juvenile division for the Circuit 15 Public Defenders Office. The youth at Palm Beach Youth Academy are very fortunate to have the ongoing support of so many local stakeholders.

Upon completion of the event, all parents were given copies of their son’s senior class pictures that were taken earlier in the week as part of a special photo shoot for the graduates. Everyone in attendance also got to enjoy food and refreshments provided by the facility.