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Secretary's Messages


  • I would like to take a moment and share with you all some information on a very important cause. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and DJJ joins with the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet (FCYC) and other state agencies, school districts, faith-based organizations, and other community stakeholders in recognizing and supporting this issue.
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  • Last week, DJJ staff traveled to Phoenix for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 2015 Inter-Site Conference, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The conference hosted over 800 JDAI professionals to discuss major accomplishments and review best practices and outcomes.
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  • It is my great pleasure to recognize Juvenile Detention Officer Steiner Jean-Louis as our DJJ Employee of the Month! Officer Jean-Louis has been with our Department for twenty years and currently serves as a juvenile detention officer at Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
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  • I am overjoyed to announce that DJJ has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Public Organization of the Year Award by the Able Trust. The Department, chosen for its unwavering support of the Able Trust’s mission to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, offers the High School High Tech (HSHT) Program in its residential programs.
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  • 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.
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  • The 2015-2016 Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is officially underway as of September 1st. The online pledge system is now open for payroll and one-time pledges and will close on November 6th.
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  • Last week I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network Meeting (JJLN) at Georgetown University. The JJLN is part of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) and was created to support juvenile justice and probation leaders at the state and local level who are engaged in significant reform efforts in their jurisdictions.
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  • On Monday, I attended the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking’s Legislative and Special Initiatives Committee Meeting at the University of Orlando. Chaired by Attorney General Pam Bondi, the committee discussed the current services available to trafficked minors and adults in Florida with an emphasis on increasing emergency housing options and utilizing wraparound community services in areas that do not have trafficking-specific services available to their victims.
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  • Last week I traveled to Indianapolis for two separate working meetings hosted by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA). The CJCA is a national non-profit organization, formed in 1994 to improve local juvenile correctional services, programs and practices so that youth within the systems succeed when they return to the community as well as to provide national leadership and leadership development for the individuals responsible for the systems.
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  • I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make sure that Florida’s students start the year off right by taking advantage of the 2015 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday which began last Friday and will continue through August 16. Education is a key factor in keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system, and being prepared is critical to their academic success.
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  • On Monday, I was honored to join Governor Rick Scott at the PACE Center for Girls in West Palm Beach as he announced the funding of $89.4 million dollars from the “Keep Florida Working,” Budget aimed towards prevention programs under DJJ.
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  • Last week was a busy one for our human trafficking initiatives and staff. Human Trafficking Director, Bethany Brimer Gilot, spent last week in South Florida conducting site visits and meeting with various stakeholders involved in the anti-trafficking efforts in Florida.
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  • It is my great pleasure to recognize SJPO Linda McCray as our DJJ Employee of the Month! Circuit 1 SJPO McCray with the Pensacola Probation Office has worked with troubled and delinquent youth for more than sixteen years, serving as a Senior Juvenile Probation Officer with the Department for the last seven years.
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  • Last Monday, I attended a county-wide meeting for Circuit 18 probation staff in Sanford. Probation staff members were thoroughly engaged during the discussion which covered circuit and county specific issues.
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  • On Wednesday, I was in Orlando for meetings with probation reform specialists, school transition specialists from county school districts and chief probation officers. During these meetings, I shared my vision for the future and the reforms that we are consistently striving to implement in the lives of the youth that we serve.
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  • On Saturday, I was honored to attend the Living Stones International (LSI) Annual Family Fun Day event at the Walker Ford Community Center in Tallahassee. Since its inception in 2007, LSI has been a committed member of our DJJ Faith Network.
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  • DJJ Provider AMIkids Inc. was named the overall winner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2015 Nonprofit of the Year award during a ceremony on June 11th at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. AMIkids also received a $10,000 donation from SunTrust as the overall award winner.
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  • On Friday, I joined together with the Commissioner of K-12 Schools Hershel Lyons from the Florida Department of Education as we honored Cheryl Smith with the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award during a ceremony at the Orange County Schools Alternative Education Main Campus in Orlando.
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  • Forty-seven DJJ team members from all statewide program areas attended the 30th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community last week at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel in Tampa Bay.
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