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Press Release Detail


Governor Scott’s 2013-14 Juvenile Justice Budget Promotes Reform, Public Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2013
Contact: C. J. Drake
850.921.5905
cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Child advocates and civic leaders praised Governor Rick Scott’s Florida Families First 2013-14 Budget for juvenile justice, saying it promotes reform and discourages delinquency while providing savings to Florida taxpayers.

“Governor Scott’s budget funds the priorities in our Roadmap to System Excellence,” said Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Secretary Wansley Walters. “This is a major step toward making sure we deliver the right service to the right youth at the right time. Not only are we helping at-risk youth get back on track, we are protecting Florida’s communities and saving money. This budget reflects the Governor’s continued emphasis on reforming and right-sizing the system so that troubled young people can get the care they need and keep our communities safe.”

The budget recommendation provides targeted reinvestments of savings from underutilized residential beds to front-end services that focus on prevention, education and health in communities where troubled kids need help.

“Delinquency in Florida is declining in all categories, and this budget will promote that positive trend,” said Walters. “Youth in the juvenile justice system are the ones who struggle in school, who can't get a job when they turn 18 and who continually affect cost-of-living when they regularly interact with law enforcement and social service agencies.”

Dedicating resources to the front end of the juvenile justice system is also a key element of the Roadmap, which has been the subject of public meetings throughout Florida since November. Since the Roadmap’s launch, more than one thousand citizens have attended Town Hall meetings in nine Florida cities to learn more about juvenile justice reform. 

Child advocates support the budget’s emphasis on prevention. “Keeping kids from entering the system in the first place – and once there from moving deeper into it – is a message this budget sends loud and clear,” said Stacy Gromatski, president and CEO of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. “Additional investments in the front end will save taxpayers even more, as well as give every young person a chance at a brighter future.” 

The Florida Families First Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-14 includes $513.6 million for DJJ, $9.7 million less than the current budget. This is due to reforms underway at the agency that are decreasing juvenile delinquency, which in turn is reducing utilization of DJJ facilities. The budget also funds 3,401 full-time positions, 99.5 fewer than currently funded. Highlights of the recommended FY 2013-14 budget include:

  • $5.8 million in savings from underutilized residential beds.
  • Investing in health and front-end services, specifically:
    • $1.5 million to strengthen prevention services to prevent and divert more youth from entering the juvenile justice system.
    • $145,360 to improve the health and mental health needs of youth, including psychiatric consultation and contract clinical specialists.
    • $55,000 to provide internet based educational testing to youth.
    • $618,750 for educational services targeted to girls in Miami-Dade County.
  • $898,300 to increase the state’s share of the cost of detention and reduce the counties’ share consistent with current utilization.
  • $1.8 million in repair and maintenance to address critical health and safety issues in DJJ facilities.

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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT…

Governor Scott’s Florida Families First 2013-14 Budget for Juvenile Justice

Dominic Calabro, president and CEO, Florida TaxWatch: “We place our full support behind DJJ’s Roadmap to System Excellence, which we believe has the potential to transform Florida into a national model for juvenile justice. We are pleased that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget enables DJJ to move forward with reforms outlined in the Roadmap. These reforms provide troubled youth with the right service in the right place at the right time while saving taxpayers money. As a result, we can expect to see stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger economy.”

Alan J. Levy, co-chair of the Broward Workshop Committee on Education and Youth Advocacy and member of the Circuit 17 Juvenile Justice Board: “As a longtime local business owner and Broward County resident, I have a deep respect for this community and an interest in seeing it flourish. DJJ is committed to helping our communities by reducing juvenile delinquency. In fact, data shows Broward’s delinquency rate has dropped 24 percent over the last five years. I commend Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget for funding the reforms outlined in DJJ’s Roadmap to System Excellence.”

Stephen Bardy, executive director, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Palm Beach County: “DJJ is committed to community partnerships that help youth change their behaviors and improve their chance of success. The agency’s Roadmap to System Excellence places a deliberate focus on diverting youth from the justice system – an ambitious but attainable and worthwhile goal. I applaud Governor Scott and Secretary Walters for a juvenile justice budget that truly puts kids first.” 

Alan F. Abramowitz, executive director, Florida Guardian ad Litem: “I am impressed by DJJ’s thoughtful approach to reforms aimed at keeping troubled youth out of the juvenile justice system. I also agree that if funding is invested in community services, we can keep more children out of deep-end programs and adult prisons. I am confident that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget will allow DJJ to keep pressing forward with juvenile justice reform.” 

Lucas Boyce, Orlando Magic executive and chair of the State Advisory Group: “The Roadmap to System Excellence is a research-driven and data-supported reform effort that has already benefited communities across the state. For instance, juvenile delinquency in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties has declined 25 percent over the last five years. The statewide drop is even more significant at 35 percent. I am delighted that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget provides DJJ with the resources necessary to build on this progress and give our youth hope for a brighter future.”

Dennis O. Torbett, senior vice president for Workforce Training and Employment, Home Builders Institute (HBI): “HBI is committed to helping students acquire knowledge and skills to help them succeed academically and pursue fulfilling careers. We enthusiastically support DJJ’s Roadmap to System Excellence and are pleased that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget supports juvenile justice reform. This budget will help young people successfully complete their educational goals, become productive members of society and achieve economic self-sufficiency.”

 

T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami: “Proactive prevention not only saves millions of taxpayer dollars, it can save the futures of our troubled youth. DJJ has presented a plan to transform the current juvenile justice system to more effectively meet the needs of Florida’s youth, enhancing public safety and enriching the lives of all Floridians. DJJ’s leaders take their responsibility as stewards of taxpayer dollars seriously, a fact that is clearly reflected in Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget.”   

Stacy Gromatski, president and CEO, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services: “DJJ’s Roadmap to System Excellence provides us with more flexibility to do the right thing for at-risk youth who need our programs and doing it in a way that reaches them when they need it most. In the end, I know that it will help us save the futures of troubled kids. It also increases efficiency, which will free up resources that can be used to keep kids out of the juvenile justice altogether and to help those already in the system from getting any deeper. Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget proves that DJJ is listening to prevention advocates and using our feedback to help troubled kids.”

Mary Marx, president and CEO, PACE Center for Girls: “As a national leader in helping girls in need of services and their families, PACE’s vision is that every girl should receive an opportunity to succeed. Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget for juvenile justice will help deliver the right service to the right youth at the right time.”

O. B. Stander, president and CEO, AMIkids: We are pleased to hear that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget fulfills DJJ’s commitment to helping youth get the services and programs they need in their homes and communities.”

David Dennis, president and CEO, Eckerd: “I applaud Secretary Walters for her efforts in transforming juvenile justice in Florida through engaging communities across the state. The monumental task of both meeting the unique rehabilitative needs of each youth and the unique public safety needs of each community in a cost effective manner is  best accomplished through her community engagement approach. I am further encouraged to hear that Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget was carefully crafted to support DJJ’s reforms.”

James Slattery, president and CEO, Youth Services International: “We are dedicated to preparing Florida’s troubled youth for the future. To provide the young people in our care with the tools to succeed, DJJ must also have the support to make decisions that are in the best interest of our state’s youth and their families. With Governor Scott’s Florida Families First Budget, our state is on a path to better outcomes for the kids and families we serve.”

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