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Secretary's Message

July 26, 2013

Secretary Walters’ Weekly Letter

I am so proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice, and I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase DJJ employees and the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your 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 (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).

Sincerely,

Wansley Walters

School-to-Prison Pipeline

The protestors at the Capitol, whom I met with on Monday, have made it clear that one of their biggest issues is school arrests. As I told them, our Department is making great strides in reducing the number of arrests in our schools and I am very happy to share the statistics to support that statement. Over the last two years some of our strongest declines in school arrests have represented black youth. There has been a 21% decline in school arrests involving black males during that time, and a 13% decline among black females. We are all working very hard to bring these numbers even lower, and I am very pleased with our progress. 


Civil Citation Update

I am elated to report some very strong statistics regarding Civil Citation, which Mark Greenwald and his team in the Office of Research and Planning put together. Most notably, the recidivism rate for Civil Citation was just 6% for fiscal year 2010-11. This makes Civil Citation one of the most successful program models the Department has ever seen. As we break these numbers down, we find that 32% of eligible black youth received the Civil Citation alternative compared to 26% of eligible white youth. In the last year, 42% of all eligible youth accused of school-related offenses received Civil Citation. As of June 30, 2013, Civil Citations have been issued by law enforcement in 51 of Florida’s 67 counties, and we look to see that number increase in the coming months. 


Staff Development and Training Update

Juvenile Detention Officer Graduation 

Congratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice detention officers, who graduated today, July 26, 2013, at Broward College. Thanks to LaWanna Tynes, superintendent of Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center (CRJDC), for presenting the graduation address, and to Learning Consultant Andrea “A.J.” Minnis for leading another class of detention officers through the process to certification for this position of critical responsibility. Detention officers work with youth who are adjudicated to secure facilities in the interests of public safety, pending court appearance or placement in a residential facility. Each graduate successfully completed 240 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the detention center listed next to his/her name.

Allen Alexandre                    Dade RJDC

Shelley Carnegie                   Broward RJDC

Jorge Chavarria                      Palm Beach RJDC

Tina Hansen                            Broward RJDC

D'Erica Houston                     Broward RJDC

Roslyn Houston                     Palm Beach RJDC

Kelvin Hudson                       Broward RJDC

Steve McLean                        Palm Beach RJDC

Dannie Odom                         Broward RJDC

Melissa Tharpe                      Palm Beach RJDC

Silvestre Mata-Vargas         Broward RJDC

Christine Walker                   Broward RJDC

Performance Management

The Performance Management System supports Florida’s commitment to continuous improvement in state government. Thanks to the participants who attended DJJ’s pilot training classes on July 24. The feedback from this week’s classes will be incorporated into DJJ’s statewide training roll out, which begins next week and will continue throughout August and September. DJJ staff from various offices will conduct mandatory training to assist all DJJ employees as they learn the new system. Kudos to this week’s trainers: Sylvia Baker, Linda Lynn, Tanesha Blackmon, Jennifer Boswell, Samadhi Jones, Kahlifi McGee, Kiva Hagans and Catherine Chandler for delivering the pilot training.


Probation Update

Last Wednesday, JPOs Marilyn Walker and Jim Lane from Circuit 6 attended the Pinellas County Sheriff Board of Directors meeting. The focus of this meeting was to select a new executive director and organize a breakfast fundraiser – it’s great to see our employees engaging with stakeholders to help their communities.

Tuesday, Reform Specialist Khalilah Daniels from Circuit 13 attended the Delinquency Court Improvement meeting at the Edgecombe Courthouse. Judge Stoddard chaired the meeting and announced new juvenile judges, while Daniels provided a DJJ update with a brief overview of the reform position, alternative education liaisons, and upcoming DJJ meetings and events. The Hillsborough County clerk’s office advised that juvenile court cases have decreased from this time last year.

JPO Shakira Williams and Jesus Sosa from the specialized foster care unit attended the community alliance meeting on July 11. The Eckerd Youth Challenge, the AG’s office and the Child Protection Unit each gave presentations about the transformation in the Child Welfare System in October.

I am pleased to announce that Kara Ahearn is the new reform coordinator here at headquarters. Kara has worked as a juvenile probation officer for the last five years as a therapist in a residential commitment program. Her career spans nearly 11 years working with dependent and delinquent youth.

I always love to share stories from parents who take a moment to recognize the hard work our JPOs are doing. This letter was received by JPO Supervisor Paul Armstrong from Circuit 16 regarding to JPO Kathleen Bautz. It reads:

Dear Paul:

I'm writing to let you know that we are very grateful to Kathleen Bautz, my son’s PO, for all her hard work, support, and encouragement. Please let your superiors know that Mrs. Bautz has done an excellent job providing direction and support to both him and his family.

Sincerely,
Carole Vann

 


Prevention Update

Yesterday, Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie delivered the commencement address for the 50 LARGE Summer Camp Program in Tallahassee. 50 LARGE is a program funded by the Department and helps to change the lives of teenage boys by inspiring hope, molding, character, teaching responsibility and providing opportunity.  A special thanks goes out to Brent Musgrove (pictured left), a prevention specialist from circuits two and three who monitors the DJJ contract for the 50 LARGE program. Brent spent a lot of time visiting the students and hearing about their experiences during the camp. A total of nineteen young men graduated from the program. 

 

From Left to Right: Christin “Cici” Battle; Eugene Morris; Dani Delvento; Craig Swain; Larry Thompson, Director, 50 Large; Yvonne Woodard; Warren Garrison; Chris Daniels; and Rhyna Jefferson.


I would like to recognize Federal Juvenile Justice Specialist Yvonne Woodard who attended the Delta Sigma Theta National Convention last week in Washington DC. Delta Sigma Theta is the nation’s largest African American women’s organization and is celebrating its centennial. Yvonne listened to keynote speakers Hillary Clinton and Reverend Bernice King. Delta Sigma Theta distinguishes itself as a public service organization that confronts the challenges of African Americans.  

 


Residential Update

On Wednesday, nearly 30 DJJ Residential team members participated in a daylong meeting with CEOs, corporate staff and program directors from each contracted residential provider to discuss behavior management and program environments in residential settings. The collective group represented more than 1,000 years of experience in juvenile justice. The providers and DJJ staff worked together in examining ways to improve normalization in residential programs. These discussions were facilitated by residential staff members Meg Bates, Gene McMahon, Stephanie Sanford and Candace Seifert, as well as director of program accountability Amy Johnson.

 

 

Assistant Secretary of Residential Services Laura Moneyham (pictured top left with Residential Services Central Region Director Tom McFadyen) said, “It is our hope that this is the first of what will be at least a semi-annual event.  The providers and regional leadership staff were very good sports who actively engaged in the empathy activities, such as randomly designating one person from each of the five small groups as a flight risk.  They jovially surrendered their street shoes for the slides that DJJ youth often are issued to wear. I am very grateful to members of DJJ’s headquarters staff who were guest speakers in the morning meeting: Kathy Jackowski from research and planning, Beth Davis from program accountability, Meg Bates from my staff, Mike Baglivio from research and planning, and Rosemary Haynes from health services.”

 

 

I would also like to acknowledge Kari Anderson, Patricia Boyd, David Douglass, Debbie Gries, Monique Johnson, Pat Wilson, Katrina Youman and Vanessa Wicker, Lytha Belrose, Stephanie Sanford and Betsy Chance.

President/CEO of Youth Services International, Inc. Jim Slattery was among five participants randomly selected to be designated as a flight risk during the afternoon small group sessions.  Shown here, he cheerfully donned a pair of DJJ-issued slides and carried his street shoes in a brown paper bag the rest of the afternoon.

 


Stakeholder Roadmap Meeting

As you know, the Department has held meetings throughout the state concerning the development of the Roadmap to System Excellence. We have heard from the community and received rave reviews for our efforts.  That said I felt that an additional meeting was needed for stakeholders to voice their feedback and give an extra opportunity for those who were not able to attend the other statewide meetings. Accordingly, on August 6th I will host a stakeholder meeting to discuss our reforms at the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center in Bunnell.

 


Education Update

Assistant Secretary for Education Joan Wimmer (pictured bottom row second from the right) traveled to Broward County this week to celebrate and administer the Oath of Office and employee recognition program. 

 

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