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Secretary's Message

July 9, 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 Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Food Services Director Juandal Huggins from the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center for being named Regional Employee of the Month for the South Region during the month of June. Director Huggins was recently promoted to Food Services Director and has implemented new changes to the food service area. The facility looks forward to a long-standing relationship with Mr. Huggins!

Congratulations to Food Support Worker Latanya Hudson from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) who was named the facility’s Employee of the Month for the month of May. Ms. Hudson can be seen in the picture second from the left along with Major Mark Refour and Captains Delmonica Harris and Michael Philpot.

I would like to also send best wishes to former Administrative Assistant Patricia Price from Duval RJDC who recently announced her retirement at the end of June. Ms. Price was a major asset to the staff at Duval RJDC and we wish her well in her future endeavors. Ms. Price is pictured second from the left along with Major Mark Refour and Captains Delmonica Harris and Michael Philpot.

JPO Academy Class Visits Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center

Juvenile probation officers (JPOs) in JPO Academy Class 85 had a chance to visit the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Tallahassee. During their visit, the JPOS from different circuits around the state of Florida engaged with the youth while conducting group sessions. The youth where given an opportunity to speak about their dreams and aspirations. Many of them wanted to go to college and become upstanding citizens in society. The JPOs offered the youth a platform to showcase some of their talent. Some had the opportunity to participate in rap battles with the juvenile probation officers, while others showcased talents such as writing, singing, and even karate.

The most heartwarming part of the experience was when the youth thanked the staff for taking time out to meet with them.  To be able to make a difference in the lives of the youth we serve can be as simple as simply engaging with them. To end the visit, a youth requested to send the JPOs off with blessings for safe travel.  The JPOs gathered with the youth in a big circle where they held hands and shared their appreciation for one another. It’s safe to say that after this experience, there were many tears of joy.  JPO Academy Class 85 would like to encourage all JPOs and JDOs to continue to strive to make a difference in the lives of the youth we serve.  

Pictured left: 1st Row L-R: Micaela Wimberly, Kenya Ray, Ericka Masoline, Parrish Brooks

2nd Row L-R: Dominique Barnett, Jimel Pierre-Louis, Geralda Saintil

3rd Row L-R: Karen Helm, Carline Tonico, Sherine Desouza, Danneil Ainsworth

4th Row L-R: Tremayn Christopher, Val Bryant, Captain Stevens (LRJDC), Haily Collins, Crystal Rose

5th Row L-R: Mylz Wicker, Sergio Savain, Shanell Jackson

6th Row L-R: Joel Morales, Kenzy Pierre-Louis, Kenardo Felix, John Everett, Michael Kokeny, Gary Eugene, James Johnson

Thanks to the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation, a youth in Circuit 8 now has the proper gear to safely practice football this summer for his high school team.  Youth DA had recently moved to a new school and did not know the area or school very well.  Project Connect Transition Specialist Jeremiah Hook built an individualized transition plan for Youth DA that included enrolling him in school and obtaining employment.  Upon enrolling in the local school, Mr. Hook noted the youth’s interest in sports and asked him if he wanted to check into the sports programs there to see if he was eligible for participation.  After meeting with the football coach, it was determined that Youth DA was eligible to compete in high school sports for the upcoming year and could, in fact, start summer football workouts right away.  However, Youth DA did not have football cleats that are necessary for him to participate in summer 7 on 7 camps.  After pursuing other options for funding, Mr. Hook reached out to the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation for assistance. The Foundation was able to provided funding to fill the need and Mr. Hook proudly made the delivery.  Youth DA was ecstatic that after only four weeks in transition programming he was enrolled in school, a sport, and a job. He also had the support of Project Connect to help him learn the time management necessary to make it all work.    

Juvenile Detention Centers Celebrate Independence Day

Captain Reginald Allen from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) organized a 4th of July celebration for the youth at the facility. The youth at Orange RJDC were treated to extra recreation time on the July 4th holiday. The facility celebrated with outside water activities, bean bag toss, music and decorations. In addition, the youth were treated to an All-American lunch which included hamburgers, soda, chips and patriotic cookies.

The Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center planned a special 4th of July meal for both youth and staff to enjoy our nation’s birthday. The youth were treated to a true summer barbecue including grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, cupcakes and ice cream. Staff also held a potluck dinner that included ribs, fried chicken, pasta salad and baked beans. 

Also at Pasco RJDC, Grief Group Counselor Todd Patterson organized a plant memorial with one of his youth who has made remarkable progress in group therapy. The youth, along with Juvenile Detention Officer II Kristin Stennett, planted a rose bush in the Pasco RJDC garden to mark her progress and assist other youth involved through their own grief process. The rose bush was donated by Designated Mental Health Authority (DHMA) Emily Gilbert.

The St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center has begun utilizing a fun activity for their level three youth after early school dismissal on Fridays. The facility now hosts Bingo Friday, where the youth and staff play bingo together. Each winner also receives a small prize.

Residential Youth Compete in Basketball Tournament and Football Camp

Young men from Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys ages 13 to 19, operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, were able to engage in three on three basketball games versus young men from neighboring Crestview Youth Academy. This opportunity allowed the boys to engage in positive recreational activities while interacting with other young men who are also on the path to making lasting life changes. The program looks forward to more opportunities to enhance activities for the young men to interact and show great sportsmanship.

Youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, attended the Clay High School Annual Football Camp hosted by NFL great and Jacksonville native Cliff Avril. While at the camp, the youth participated with other local high school athletes in footwork drills, technique exercises, and seven on seven scrimmages.  They also received various tips on being successful from the pro athletes in attendance.

Youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy also got into the community and enjoyed a game of baseball. The youth watched Jacksonville’s minor league team, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, battle it out against the Biloxi Shuckers. The Jumbo Shrimp came out victorious in the first of a three-game home stand. It was a great time for everyone in attendance!

Nine girls and two staff members from Central Pasco Girls Academy, a non-secure program for girls ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, attended and made 10 clean water filtration systems for One Ball One Village to take on their next mission trip to Haiti.

Everyone was very grateful for this incredible opportunity to participate with One Ball One Village in their mission to bring clean water to thousands of people that have none. Jody and Laurie Johnston invited Steadfast Ministries and Central Pasco Girls Academy to partner with them to provide these water systems as well as 400 toiletry bags that were packed by all the girls during a recent special outreach night.  The girls at Central Pasco Girls Academy have also made close to 100 headscarves in their sewing program and hundreds of gospel bracelets during bible study that will be given out on this trip and the upcoming trip to Guatemala, led by Lezlie and Jeff Gold.

The girls and staff also assembled and installed a clean water filtration system on site at the sports field at Bay Hope Church's main campus for the families that use this area during sports camps and special events.  

At the end of June, Bartow Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, celebrated their Summer Family Day. Families gathered around tables to spend time together over board games and coloring pages. They were served a meal by Bartow Youth Academy staff and treated to snow cones via a visiting snow cone food truck. Each family participated in a photo booth session and were given a keepsake photo to take home after their visit. Staff were “all hands-on deck” and got involved in the fun as well!

During the last weekend of June, Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments (YOI), had a team building experience for the leadership of the program organized by Facility Administrator Latoya Jackson-Singletary. Morale is a huge aspect of YOI’s Teamwork, Leadership and Culture program. The program provides employee incentives to recognize and reward excellent work and dedicated years of service, leadership development and a trauma-focused culture.

Office of Prevention Staff Hosts CORE Forum and Resource Fair

The Office of Prevention and Victim Services teamed up with the Office of Detention Services and the Office of Probation and Community Intervention to hold our first CORE (Community, Outreach, Resources and Education) forum and resource fair at the Leon County Public Library Headquarters in Tallahassee. Operations and Training Director Yvonne Woodard presided over the event and my thanks to Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Major Conrad McCray from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Michael Byrd for serving as guest speakers.

More than 200 youth, parents, providers and other stakeholders attended this event. A recent graduate of the Florida Youth Challenge Academy and Rickards High School, Tyler Williams, delivered a powerful testimony on overcoming challenges to achieve his dreams of higher education to prepare him for a successful life. Nine other youth from four families were also recognized for successfully overcoming challenges to become successful students and siblings. Entertainment was also provided by the In the Faith dance team.

The event hosted numerous venders including Living Stones International, Inc., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Magellan Complete Care, CareerSource Capitol Region, Family Network on Disabilities/Parents of the Panhandle, Bond Community Health Center Inc., Children’s Home Society of Florida-Open Doors Outreach Network, “People Helping People,” Tallahassee Urban League, PACE Center for Girls Leon, Camelot Community Care, Inc., CCYS-Going Places, DISC Village, Inc., Families First of Florida, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Tallahassee Police Department, and the National Organization of Black Executives.

Also in attendance were several agencies and organizations including the Department of Children & Families, Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Crime Survivors for Safety & Justice, NAMI Tallahassee, Inc., NAMI Tallahassee, Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Team of the Big Bend, Florida Youth Challenge Academy, Florida Department of Health, Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend, Sickle Cell Foundation and Florida A&M University Police Department.