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Secretary's Message

March 14, 2014

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, both DJJ employees and those who work for our contractors, and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase 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).


Wansley Walters

The Governor’s Corner

Rick ScottDuring 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. Now, thanks to our pro-growth policies and the efforts of our public servants, our unemployment rate is down, our crime rate is at a 42-year low, our tourism industry is breaking records, and we have added almost half a million jobs.

With the help of our dedicated public servants, we are working together to create an opportunity economy in Florida. We are continuing to pay down debt and cut taxes for Florida families and small businesses by $500 million. We’re on the way to making Florida the best state in the nation to find a good job, raise a family, and achieve the American Dream. So let’s keep working to make Florida number one.

Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Finalists

This week, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham and Director of Education Julie Orange were in Broward and Marion Counties respectively to honor two of the three finalists for the 2012-2013 Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award. 

On Monday, Christy, Laura, Julie and Broward Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie honored Florence Cancilla, a twenty-five year veteran with the Broward County School District, is currently a Dropout Prevention Instructor at Whiddon-Rogers Education Center in Ft. Lauderdale for both the high school and DJJ education programs. She works with DJJ students at the Broward Youth Treatment Center (YTC) and the Pompano Youth Treatment Center preparing them for FCAT 2.0, the GED exam and Certified Internet Web Professional Certification.

From L to R: Principal David Watkins, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly, Broward School Board Member Robin Bartleman, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie (back), Ms. Florence Cancilla, Director of Education Julie Orange

On Tuesday, Christy, Laura, and Julie joined Marion County School Board Chairman Bobby James to honor Marion JCF teacher Dale Wade. Ms. Wade is a language arts teacher at MJCF where she inspires students in the areas of literature, reading, grammar and vocabulary. Dale incorporates innovative tools to engage students in learning such as Flocabulary, an on-line vocabulary building program with modules of vocabulary words set to music and inspiring videos, and all-school presentations including the Vocabulary Smack Down, the All Star Essay Contest and spelling bees. Her level of expectations for her students remains consistently high as she encourages them to achieve new levels of accomplishment. 

From L to R: North Regional Acting Deputy Director Residential East Billy Stark, Assistant Secretary for Residential Laura Moneyham, Teacher of the Year Finalist Dale Wade, Director of Education Julie Orange, Deputy Secretary Christy Dal, Program Monitor Paul McIntrye

Each finalist received a medallion and $200 award from the Florida Association of Alternative School Education. The ceremony was sponsored by Pearson and Youth Services International (YSI).

Legislative Update

On Wednesday, HB 173, DJJ Education, passed the Florida House unanimously. This bill, an agency priority sponsored by Representative Janet Adkins, provides much needed career and technical education opportunities, enhancement of transition services, and accountability and performance measurements in DJJ education programs. The Senate companion (SB 598) is currently working its way through the committee process.


Residential Update

Learning Today—Preparing for Tomorrow:  Ten young men from Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a moderate-risk program in Pensacola operated by AMI Kids, Inc., enrolled in that program’s first Oil & Lubrication Certification Course—a standardized course of the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)—at the George Stone Vocational School.  The certification includes four hours of classroom learning and four hours of hands-on learning in the shop.  Once the basics in the classroom are mastered, the boys will complete on-the-job training at American Fast Lube.  Upon completion of both portions of the class, the youth will receive ASE certification. 

American Fast Lube has approximately 30 locations throughout Florida and has expressed interest in hiring youth who complete this course.  This is a great resource for our youth, increasing their employment opportunities as they transition back into the community.  We look forward to having many youth at EBB complete this vocational certification.

The boys are pictured in the classroom and in the shop with their instructor, Ed Sizemore.

Last week, the JoAnn Bridges Academy, a low- and moderate-risk program for females in Greenville that is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., held its Annual Black History Program titled, “It’s Not Just Black History, It’s American History.”  Students performed a variety of talents and ensembles, depicting key events in history, thought-provoking quotations by notable African-Americans, dramatic dances, choral renditions, and poetry readings. 

At the age of six, Ruby Bridges became the face of school integration on Nov. 14, 1960, which was her first day of first grade in an all-white school.  In this skit, the students portrayed Ruby and her parents discussing concerns about her pending change of schools. 

Students portrayed the historical image of slaves and masters in the field while performing a choral rendition of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” a song historically known as an American-Negro spiritual.  The earliest known recording was in 1909, by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University.

Students performed a praise dance to “Break Every Chain”  Shown here are all of the young ladies who participated in the program.

The students gave their audience an entertaining and educational experience.  JoAnn Bridges Academy Principal Lisa Varnum hopes that all who attended the program left with a sense of community, reflection and pride. 

Last month, the youth of Union Juvenile Residential Facility (Union JRF), a moderate-risk program for males that is located in Raiford and operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, visited a local nursing home to deliver Valentine’s Day cards and homemade flowers to the residents.  The residents and workers were very appreciative and the young men enjoyed bringing smiles to the people they met.

This week, in partnership with the Union and Baker County Health Departments, the Union JRF youth made care packets for the soldiers overseas.  The boys enjoyed this community service project and are looking forward to sending the packages off to the men and women who serve our country.

February was a spectacular month for the residents of the Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a moderate-risk program for males operated by Youth Services International, Inc., and located in Pembroke Pines.  Two of the residents earned and received their high school diplomas and nine young men received their pre-apprenticeship certificates by completing a program that is designed to provide the youth with construction and OSHA vocational skills. 

YTC also had a successful family day celebration, which included a family-style meal that featured “Black History” cuisine.  In addition to celebrating Black History Month, the residents were treated to a Valentine’s Day brunch where the staff prepared the meals.

The residents also heard from community leaders such as former NBA guard Keyon Dooling, Pastor Nathanial Robinson III, NFL wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and members from the Army and Navy divisions of the United States military.  Guest speakers provided career plans and motivational inspiration to the youth.  Many of these leaders also were took part in the “Career Day” forum that included a music producer and a representative from the Broward County Clerk of the Courts.  

Community Advisory Board Chair Spotlight

As a new feature to the weekly letter, I plan to highlight our Circuit Board Advisory Chairs once a month for all the great work they do. This month’s spotlight focuses on Circuit 12 Advisory Board Chair Peria Duncan who is the Criminal Justice Liaison for Manatee County.

Peria holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Washington State University and has extensive related training.  She previously held the position of Regional Administrator for the Washington State Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and was an Executive Board Member for the Washington Correctional Association for many years.

Ms. Duncan’s experience in Juvenile and Adult Corrections includes line level through administrative positions in county, state, residential and community settings. She has chaired a bachelor degree level Criminal Justice program, and was a Regional Administrator with the Washington Department of Early Learning. Ms. Duncan wrote the book “The Correctional Officer’s Resource Guide, 4th edition” for the American Correctional Association, of which she is a member, and has another pending publication.  

The next Circuit 12 meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. on April 14 at 4215 Concept Court at Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County.

Prevention Update

On Tuesday, DMC Coordinator Joshua Kuch hosted a viewing and discussion of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange webinar with the W. Haywood Burns Institute and the Public Welfare Foundation entitled: Youth of Color and the Juvenile Justice System: A conversation with James Bell and Katayoon Majd. Attendees included representatives from Prevention, Probation, Detention, and the Office of the Secretary. The discussion focused on how we can work together as a department to reduce the overrepresentation of minorities in Florida’s juvenile justice system. 

DJJ team members have taken the lead on the Florida Youth Commission which is comprised of youth across the state and acts as an advisory group to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. The objective of the Florida Youth Commission is to engage youth and ensure their voice is heard on identifying and addressing key issues facing Florida’s next generation.

DJJ is extremely excited to work with the FYC and is committed to ensuring its success. Applications for youth commissioners are now being accepted. We are seeking a diverse pool of applicants and encourage all youth to apply. Youth may also be nominated by another individual. Applications will be accepted until May 9th. Please click here to access the applications. If you have any questions regarding the Florida Youth Commission, please contact Christin “Cici” Battle, (850)-717-2429 or Christin.Battle@djj.state.fl.us.

Statewide DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch and Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin attended DMC training in Jacksonville last Friday which was sponsored by the W. Haywood Burns Institute. In order to study new trends and strategies in the field of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), Josh and Gloria joined practitioners to discuss ways to address DMC issues in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.

(left to right): Josh Kuch, statewide DMC Coordinator; Michael Finley, JD, W. Haywood Burns Institute; Gloria Gatlin, Federal Assistant; and Taurean Sinclair, Coordinator-City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Journey & Black Male Initiative

Former Delinquency Prevention Specialist Becky Linn retired from our agency on January 31 after fourteen years of service. Becky, a resident of Marion County was responsible for community outreach, grants and contract management covering 20 counties in Northeast Florida. Becky was honored by the Circuit 8 Advisory Board on the eve or her retirement with a reception during their January meeting. The Circuit 8 Board attributed much of their recent progress to Becky’s hard work and dedication. Prior to working with DJJ, Becky worked for the Ocala Housing Authority, Central Telephone Company and in banking and property management.

 Probation Update

Assistant Secretary for Probation Joan Wimmer took part in the introductory Effective Practices for Community Supervision (EPICS) training in Ft. Myers this week with trainers from the University of Cincinnati. EPICS training was also held in both Orlando and Pensacola. This training marks the beginning of a graduated statewide roll out of this specialized model for community supervision. 

Last week, CPO Wydee’a Wilson from Circuit 19 attended the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model Training in Dallas as a part of a six member team representing St. Lucie County. The gang violence reduction model engages key agencies in a collaborative response to gangs that focus on five strategies. The five strategies are: community mobilization; organizational change and development; suppression; social intervention and opportunities provision.

Last Friday, JPOs from Circuit 18 visited the newly constructed Boys and Girls Club facility in Cocoa where they were given a tour by Service Director RaQuel Hinton. The new facility includes recreation activities, arts and crafts, a music studio, a dance studio, and educational facilities such as computer labs and libraries. 

Pictured left to right are JPO Gary Sullivan, Service Director RaQuel Hinton, JPO Jared Stanley, JPO Susan Coufman, JPO Celeste Chambliss, and Senior JPO Beth Cantrell

I am happy to share this e-mail sent from Tony Read, executive director of Project Connect, to Assistant Secretary for Probation Joan Wimmer and North Region Director Jill Clemens. It reads:

Hi Joni/Jill, 

     Through Project Connect, our Transition Specialists have done some wonderful work out there in serving the transition needs of juvenile youth in the north region.  This stuff gets documented, of course, in youth files and monthly summary reports but I’ve recently challenged our staff to start personally sending me little messages of success that they encounter so I can share in the enthusiasm as well.  

     So, with that in mind, I wanted to take a minute to share a recent good news story out of C1.  One of our Transition Specialists (TS) over there, Rebecca Schernitzki, was sharing the successful completion of the CAREER$ curriculum (see attached) for two of the youth on her case load and also shared with me about a young man out at Escambia Boys Base (EBB) that was recently assigned to her by her Area Director through a JPO referral.  I think the story really optimizes how important the early referrals are to the successful transition of youth in the program.  

     This young man has been in EBB for a quite a while and has shown an interest in pursuing higher education at local colleges/universities.  Rebecca was able to work with the residential staff to take the youth on a college campus tour/visit, show him around, take him to the registrar’s office, financial aid, etc.  After a good, thorough tour and some confidence building, Rebecca took the youth back to EBB and followed up with the case manager a week or so later.  The case manager reported a significantly positive change in the youth’s attitude and perspective of his life situation.  He had no hope before of being able to pursue college as a possibility for himself due to a chaotic home but now sees a future in higher education for himself and will have someone there to help him get started (TS) and a small group of people (Community Action Team, Life Coach, JPO) to foster him along the way.  

     Now, we have the challenge of taking these gains out of the residential program and continuing to build on them (job while in college, transportation, etc.) in the community but, thanks to the ability to conduct pre-service work, we are a leg up.  

SJPO Omar Bohler from Circuit 9 spoke to a group of teachers, students and parents at the Silver Star Academy in Orlando in honor of Black History Month. Omar spoke about his duties as a probation officer as well as some new initiatives within our agency. The Silver Star Academy presented Omar with a certificate of appreciation for taking the time to share his work experiences with their students.

JPOSs Michelle McCaskill and Fred Womack and their teams in Circuit 14 are making preparations for the arrival of Spring Break 2014 in Panama City and Bay County. As part of a new collaborative partnership between local law enforcement agencies, our JPOs will patrol Panama City Beach four evenings per week between March 9 and April 20. Last Sunday, JPOs from Circuit 14 began serving at the Bay County Sheriff Office’s Spring Break Command Center where they will make referrals and pre-screen youth who are brought to the center. 

JPO Julia Rogers and Reform Specialist Tracy Olson from Circuit 18 participated in the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale in Brevard County. Julia and Tracy accompanied probation youth who received valuable community service hours for their service during the event. All items that were donated were given to The Mustard Seed of Central Florida to help local families and children.

Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts hosted a working lunch meeting with the Sheriff Departments from Osceola and Orange County respectively last Friday. Theda provided an overview of the progress on Civil Citation for the Circuit as well as a review of the Civil Citation Dashboard. Cpl. Gregg Wynn of the Orlando Sheriff’s Department provided the attendees with updated information and encouragement on the use of Civil Citation as an effective alternative to arrest.

Probation team members from Circuit 11 celebrated black history on February 28 by acknowledging the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Circuit 11 is proud to identify over forty Juvenile Probation Staff who attended or graduated from twelve (12) well known HBCUs.  The largest representation of C11 staff for attendance and or graduation came from Florida A&M University and Florida Memorial University.  CPO Terria Flakes is a proud Tuskegee University graduate.   Regional Director, Vanessa Hargray, is a proud graduate of Florida A&M University as well as an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority.

From left to right:  Vanessa Hargray South Regional Director, JPO Caroline Romero, Secretary Specialist Alicia Borders and  JPO Jasmine Toomer.

From left to right: CPO Terria Flakes, JPOS Loretta Banks and ACPO Frank Manning

Last week, Circuit 6 CPO Adrienne Conwell received this e-mail from court psychologist Christine Jaggi recognizing the outstanding work SJPO Troi Owens has given to a youth in her care. It reads:

I want to recognize Troi Owens who has a special touch in working with our foster care youth with delinquency charges.  These youth are used to being ordered around by case managers, group home staff, school personnel, etc.  They get very good at struggling.  It gives them at least a small sense of control in foster care which can be a very disempowering experience.  I have seen professional after professional fall into the trap of struggle back.  I sometimes fall into this trap because it is so hard to avoid.  But, it leaves us and the kids in a no-win situation.   

 Troi has the absolutely priceless gift of deftly side-stepping these struggles.  She listens to the youths' concerns, gives them a voice in decisions whenever possible, and sets limits that even these challenging youth would agree were fair, all while keeping her eye on the big picture.  I'm sure it also helps that they clearly feel that she cares about them and their well-being.  I have seen her do this time and time again.  

Most recently, Troi was the JPO for a youth who is one of the most masterful strugglers we have had in foster care/delinquency.  He has been on the run for most of the last 3 years, and has spent little time in school.  After he became entrenched in a stand-off with his foster care case manager over school, I asked Troi to take the lead.  She skillfully managed the impossible and got him back into school.  And, while things were not always entirely smooth, Troi managed to get this youth, who has not had a charge since 2012, finally off of probation.  He now has a chance at a more normal teen life.  All of this contributed to his actually going to and staying at a group home for the first time in years.  And, he has contacted her even though he is no longer on probation because he sees her as such a valuable support and resource as he tries to start life as a normal kid, get his GED, and find a job.     

 Troi helped set the stage for this not so small miracle and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the difference she made in the life of this kid, and the care, optimism, and resourcefulness with which she approaches each youth in her care.

Detention Update

Last week, detention employees from around the state participated in MK Mueller’s 8 Step Process for Change training at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Quincy. “8 to Great” is an 8-step process for young adults and adults who are facing challenges and teaches processes for forgiving the past, rebuilding self-confidence, taking full responsibility, communicating more effectively, and making better decisions. An additional training will be held in Tampa on May 8 as a part of our continued efforts to reform Detention Services by providing trauma-informed environments within our centers.

While many of her fellow students were at the beach this Spring Break, University of Florida student Emma Roulette instead volunteered her time at the Alachua RJDC painting a mural seen here. Thank you Emma for the beautiful addition to the detention center!

The TAP (Teens Adopting Puppies) Program at the Brevard RJDC said goodbye to their first five puppies on Monday. Each dog left the comforts of the facility to begin their new lives in their forever homes. Four of the five puppies were adopted by detention staff and local law enforcement, however one of the girls at our facility fell in love with one of the pups named ‘Oreo’ and her parents took it upon them to go to the SPCA and adopt him. The inaugural TAP program at Brevard has been instrumental in providing therapy to the youth within our facility, while giving these dogs a new home. 

Superintendent Darrell Johnson from the Duval RJDC hosted representatives from the Colgate Bright Smiles-Bright Futures organization for a presentation with the kids at the facility. Colgate representative Savannah Tchordadjian talked with our students about dental hygiene including the proper way to brush teeth, tongue and the proper care for their gums. Savannah also spoke on making the right choices at the snack counter and which snacks were better than others. 


Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

Last Thursday, DJJ staff participated in Suicide Prevention Awareness Day at the Florida Capitol in concert with the Department of Children and Families and the Suicide Prevention Coalition to raise awareness on suicide and strengthen prevention measures. Our staff displayed the agency’s suicide prevention process as well as the procedures used in Department facilities to improve the detection of suicide risk, and to increase protective factors through early intervention and treatment. 

DJJ display, with DJJ staff Heather Lincicome and Gayla Sumner, in the Rotunda of the Capitol on Suicide Prevention Day, March 6th.  The display provided information regarding the Department's suicide processes and procedures and specialized treatment services.  

FJJA 2014 Awards Nominations

Each year, FJJA recognizes excellence with awards presented at the annual FJJA Adolescent Conference. The awards are given to deserving individuals who work in member or state agencies, and who show youth the “way forward” -- giving much of themselves to enrich the lives of our at-risk youth.

FJF is excited to launch the application process for the 2014 Adolescent Conference “The Way Forward: Our Communities, Our Youth, Our Future.” 

To nominate someone and to find awards criteria, click here. Nominations will be accepted online through Friday, April 18, 2014.

The top winners will receive a complimentary registration to the 2014 Adolescent Conference and will be honored at the awards banquet on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - opening day of the 2014 Adolescent Conference.   I am thrilled that FJJA has asked that I present the awards.

The Learning Light 

Lori Bright, Circuit 5 Assistant Chief Probation Officer:
“I love the idea and I think that any kind of explanation or training on Performance Management is useful. I know that our supervisors in Circuit 5 would appreciate it and they will read the information and use it. Having the SMART expectation worksheet and the link for more information is a key to having staff use it. I like the one-page format.” 


Jill Clemens, DJJ North Region Probation Director:
“This looks really good. I think the multimedia approach works well and the video is especially effective. The objectives are easy to understand.”


Paul Finn, Superintendent of Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center:
“I think this will benefit our staff, supervisors as well as the line staff.” 


Dixie Fosler, DJJ North Region Detention Director:
“I really like this… [It’s] a great way to provide some good training to staff in the field…”


Margaret LaMarca, DJJ Circuit 20 Chief Probation Officer:
“I think it is absolutely a GREAT idea. It will serve as a kind of ‘refresher.’”

The DJJ Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) has developed a new learning tool for all state and provider staff: the DJJ Learning Light. The DJJ Learning Light debuts as a special five-part series on Performance Management. Here is a link to the first Learning Light in the series, Plan for Success. The complete series is available here.

The DJJ Learning Light is a useful tool for team meetings. Designed to offer “bite-sized” learning “nuggets” that people can quickly absorb and easily incorporate into their work day, the DJJ Learning Light e-format offers hyperlinks to short videos and other resources that strengthen the learning experience.


The Performance Management series focuses on proven management principles and techniques that can enhance any organization. The series also features hyperlinks to DJJ Performance Management worksheets that both state and provider staff may find helpful.

We need your feedback! Please be sure to take the short survey at the bottom of the Learning Light page, and tell us if there are specific topics you want to see in future editions.

People First Customer Survey

Starting Monday (March 10, 2014) through Friday (March 21, 2014), the Department of Management Services will e-mail a survey to 25,000 randomly selected active and retired state employees with e-mail addresses (work or personal) captured in People First. The survey will be from “DMS Survey Comments <noreply@dms.myflorida.com>”. The agency Chief Information Officers have already been notified to help ensure that this e-mail is not blocked as spam. The e-mail will present a link to a Survey Monkey survey and there will not be any e-mail attachments. The survey will ask employees to rate their level of satisfaction with People First. Our goal is to determine the effectiveness of the system and the People First Service Center, and to give our customers an opportunity to provide feedback.

I encourage you to respond quickly and openly to this survey.  The deadline to respond is Friday, March 21.