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Secretary's Messages


  • I was excited to sit down with the Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s new leadership team on Wednesday here at DJJ Headquarters. I was joined by both Communications Director Heather DiGiacomo and Legislative Affairs Director Jon Menendez where we discussed a wide variety of topics.
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  • I was excited to attend the quarterly Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting yesterday in Pensacola and am thrilled that former Secretary Wansley Walters will remain in her position as Chairwoman of this prestigious cabinet.
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  • We recently took the time to honor the brave men and women of Florida who have served in the United States military. Thanks in part to the help of our dedicated public servants, more than 1,700 veterans were presented with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award during honor ceremonies in Tampa, Fort Myers, Hollywood, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, and Panama City.
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  • I was honored to kick off the first meeting of the newly formed Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) statewide workgroup and training team this week at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Quincy.
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  • As I sit here typing this message, it is difficult to put into words the surreal feeling of knowing that I will no longer be serving as Secretary of this agency after Monday. I shared on the Roadmap tours how much I enjoyed meeting the many staff from around the state that dedicate their lives to making Florida a better place for at-risk and delinquent youth.
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  • I was honored to attend the Florida Cabinet meeting on Tuesday with Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. My presence was requested to be on hand for the signing of the Human Trafficking Bill which I will speak in detail later in this newsletter, but was surprised when Governor Scott presented me with a proclamation for my years of service as the head of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
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  • We recently reached a great victory when the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget was signed into law. With the support of Florida’s public servants, our state has experienced incredible growth during the past three years.
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  • This week I traveled to Philadelphia for the 21st Annual Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) National Inter-Site Conference presented by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
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  • This week I was the featured speaker at the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community in Jacksonville. This conference represents a collaborative effort to foster communication and action among practitioners through the sharing of innovative ideas and prevention strategies that have been successful in the black community.
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  • It is a bittersweet moment that I share that I will be leaving the agency as of June 30th. Reflecting on the past 3 ½ years, I am so extremely proud of all that DJJ has accomplished in that short period of time.
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  • Gina Castaneda, a juvenile probation officer from Santa Cruz, California, presented to a standing room only crowd in Orlando at a pre-conference seminar on Monday.
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  • On Thursday, I was elated to address nearly 400 children and their parents on the 22nd Floor of the Florida Capitol for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event, sponsored by the Department of Economic Opportunity, showcased twenty exhibitors from a wide variety of organizations to learn hands-on about career opportunities in Florida.
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  • As the 2014 Florida Legislative Session comes to a close, I am elated to report that House Bill 7055, which contains our agency’s revisions to Chapter 985 of Florida Statutes, passed the full Legislature unanimously this week.
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  • On Tuesday, I was honored to walk the final mile from the Governor’s Square Mall to the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee as a part of the Walk in My Shoes 2014 event created by Lauren Book.
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  • Floridians across the state have been seeing the benefits of Florida’s opportunity economy. Our unemployment rate is down, our labor force is increasing, and we have created more than half a million new private sector jobs. These exciting opportunities would not have been possible without our public servants. Your hard work is helping to make even more investments to improve the lives and health of Florida families.
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  • On Tuesday, I was honored to award our 2014 Youth Ambassadors on the steps of the Florida Capitol as a part of Youth Success Day.
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  • I am pleased to honor Senior Management Analyst Supervisor Jacklyn Colson as DJJ’s Employee of the Month for February 2014.
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  • I was pleased to join First Lady Ann Scott and Eckerd at a ceremony yesterday at the Challenge Juvenile Residential Facility in Brooksville to honor the 2012-13 Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award winner Ms. Edie Flores
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  • This week, Circuit 6 DJJ staff hosted a delegation from Delaware who traveled down to our fair state to learn more about the Juvenile Justice Systems Improvement Project in Pinellas County.
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  • During the recent opening of the 2014 Legislative Session, we took the time to review how far Florida has come. Four years ago, unemployment was high, home values were shrinking and more people left the state of Florida than moved in from other states.
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