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Secretary's Message

April 25, 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

Lauren’s Walk

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. Lauren, and her organization Lauren’s Kids, holds an annual, statewide “Walk in My Shoes” event, which brings together survivors and advocates for child sexual abuse on a walk across Florida to raise awareness and promote supportive legislation.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the event that has seen tens of thousands of Floridians, including survivors, come out to walk with Lauren on her 1,500 mile walk across the state of Florida in support of her mission to end child sexual abuse and help survivors heal. Lauren’s statewide legislative advocacy has helped pass more than a dozen Florida laws over the last five years.


OJJDP Site Visit

This week, the Department was pleased to welcome Gwendolyn Williams from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for a site visit here at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee. The OJJDP has oversight of the federal grant money that is allocated for our agency, and Gwendolyn was able to see first-hand how the Office of Prevention and Victim Services is allocating funding to support DJJ initiatives. The Executive Leadership team was able to meet with Gwendolyn who seemed very pleased with the good work our agency is doing. 

Legislative Update

The 2014 Florida Legislative Session is heading into its final week and there is good news to share concerning the fate of the agency’s biggest legislative priority. I am thrilled to share that House Bill (HB) 7055 which contains our Chapter 985 revisions unanimously passed the House today! The Senate counterpart bill, SB 700, was introduced on the Senate floor today, with a full vote expected early next week.  I will share with you the results next week in our legislative wrap-up. I would like to thank Representative Ray Pilon and Senator Rob Bradley for their sponsorship and continued support of this groundbreaking piece of legislation.

In addition to our Chapter 985 revisions, the budget conference wrapped up on Wednesday, and according to Legislative Affairs Director Jon Menendez, the Juvenile Justice portion of the budget is looking very good. The 2014-15 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,” will be placed on the desk of House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz this afternoon. It is expected to pass next Friday before the session waves the white flag marking Sine Die. I would like to thank Legislative Affairs Director Jon Menendez and Deputy Legislative Affairs Director Marcus Smith for their continued hard work on DJJ’s legislative priorities. Also a big thank you to Director of Administration Fred Schuknecht and Budget Bureau Chief Vicki Harris for their tireless work on the budget this session.

Residential Update

At the Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH), a low-risk residential commitment program for boys ages 12 to 15, which is operated by The Center for Drug-Free Living, Inc., a group of 10 young men make up the “Canine Commandos Unit.”  The Canine Commandos Unit began in mid-March this year and all of the youth in the program will have the opportunity to participate in this special project.

There are more than 200 students in 19 public schools across Brevard County who participate in the Canine Commandos program of the Central Brevard Humane Society in Cocoa (also known as Critter Savers).  The students of BGTH are not included in the number of the public schools participating in the project but their teachers are the ones who lead the program for the 10 BGTH boys who currently form the Canine Commandos Unit.  The Canine Commandos assist in training and rehabilitating homeless dogs in an effort to help the dogs find permanent homes. 

The BGTH young men work patiently to teach the dogs basic obedience commands such as: “Watch Me,” “Sit,” “Down,” Stay,” and “Come.  Once the basic commands are taught, the Commandos go inside the shelter to clicker-train the dogs in their runs.  When clicker-training, the dogs are in their runs and the Commando stands in front of the dog’s door.  When the dog is quiet and not jumping at the door to the run, the Commando clicks and gives the dog a treat.  This makes the shelter quieter and the dogs learn to behave calmly, making them more desirable for adoption.

Due to the outstanding dedication and conduct of the young men of BGTH, as well as the dedication and commitment shown by their teacher, Janet Pendergrass, the Humane Society has agreed to allow the BGTH Canine Commandos Unit to continue involvement in the program throughout the summer!  We applaud Janet for always being a champion for the youths and for serving as a role model who demonstrates positive qualities and behaviors for the young men of BGTH to emulate.

Last week, DJJ Statewide PREA Coordinator Gene McMahon received notification from the National PREA Resource Center (PRC) of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) that he passed the PREA Auditor Examination for the Juvenile Facility Standards administered on January 17, 2014.  Currently, Gene is one of only six Florida Certified Auditors for Juvenile Facilities.  All auditors are certified by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The qualifications to apply for the PREA Auditor Certification are stringent and defined under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standard 28 CFR 115.402.  Applicants must pass a criminal background records check; complete a rigorous 40-hour PREA Auditor Certification Training provided by the PRC; and must pass an examination at the end of the 40-hour training. 

Congratulations, Gene!

The following is an email message received from a volunteer who works with the youth and staff of the Union Juvenile Residential Facility in Raiford:  

Dear Mr. Starke and Ms. Horner:

I'm writing to let you both know about the outstanding work being done at the Union residential program for juvenile sex offenders, which is under the leadership of Mike Smith.  I've been volunteering at the facility for the past few months, offering the youth the opportunity to attend Christian Bible study if they choose to, and the majority have chosen to attend.

Recently, I attended the graduation ceremony for a young man and I was amazed at his testimony.  He told us how he had come to the program with a terrible attitude and was challenging everyone to fight him.  He explained how he left the program transformed from the inside out, and he credited each of the team members personally for helping him overcome his many issues.  It was especially emotional, when he held up a Bible and encouraged the other youth to begin reading and applying the things they are learning there.  He is just one example of the lives that are undergoing transformation there.  Each week, the young men tell me how they are also becoming equipped to succeed when they leave.

Each week that I volunteer, I observe the staff interacting so positively with the youth and the youth tell me how much the staff members help them.  I've observed Mike Smith speaking to the youth and it's so apparent he has genuine concern for their well-being and that is his top priority.  His leadership is providing an environment where transformation flourishes.

I don't know what I expected when I first came to the facility to volunteer, but I can tell you it was so much more than I could have imagined.  The youth are wonderful to work with and are eager to learn and are very respectful.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to interact with them, and I thought you should know of the good work being done there. 


Myra Monroe Carr

The Okaloosa Youth Development Center (OYDC), operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, is located in Crestview and serves males, ages 13 to 18.  Co-located on the same campus are treatment programs for high-risk and low/moderate-risk youths.

Last week, as part of the OYDC Transition Club, the young men currently in transition visited a local job fair.  This outing gave the boys the opportunity to practice interviewing and networking skills they learned in the program.  The youth spoke with local employers and completed job applications while at the job fair.  OYDC staff members will take those young men to follow-up interviews, assisting them in obtaining employment when they return home. 

Also last week, the youths decorated and distributed Easter eggs and cards to the residents of Crestview Manor, which is a nursing and rehabilitation home for senior citizens, spreading joy for the holiday.

The Northwest Regional Area held its quarterly program director’s meeting last week at the Panhandle Area Education Consortium in Chipley.  The meeting had a jam-packed agenda and was well attended by DJJ staff and representatives from most of the contracted program providers:  Escambia Boys Base Jonathan Wigins; Okaloosa Youth Development Center Program Director Derek Peoples and Clinical Director Tamara Bogle; Okaloosa Youth Academy/Okaloosa Sex Offender Program/Crestview Sex Offender Program Director Mikel Currie; Walton Youth Development Center Assistant Program Director Antonio Potter, Clinical Director Shannon Pruitt and HBI Program Coordinator Angela Forwar; DOVE Academy Assistant Program Director Jean Horton; JUST/TOVA II Program Director Donald Lasseter; Circuit 14 Assistant Chief Probation Officer Marcia Reightnour; Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer and Project Connect Regional Director Tony Read; Northwest Program Director Celena Hayes; Residential Regional Director Mary Mills; Administrative Assistant Sarah Hollar; SMA-II Jeanine Rhodes; General Services Liaison Kelvin Sander; Commitment Managers April Lewis, Sean Dorsey and Shauntrai Bruton; Contract Manager Linda Williams and Linda Lynn; Program Monitors Garret Tucker, Dwight Poole, Kathy Parrish, April Denney and Greg Brown; Administrative Review Specialist Therman Gullette; and SMA-II Lori Jernigan

The Office of Probation’s Statewide Transition Coordinator Sanshell Bussey discussed the continuing transition initiatives around the state.  DJJ’s Senior Safety Specialist Tommy Blankenship provided training on new OSHA standards.  DJJ’s statewide PREA Coordinator Gene McMahon provided training on revisions to the DJJ PREA policy, discussed the Pre-Audit Questionnaire and provided some tips as to how DJJ residential programs can meet the PREA requirements.  General Services SMA-II Jeanine Rhodes provided a refresher training on the work order process and specific requirements for facility repairs.  Regional Director Mary Mills discussed the preliminary results of the ID Card survey programs recently completed and the barriers programs face when trying to help one of our youth obtain a Florida Identification Card. 

Mary also recognized the following programs for achieving the goal of a Restraint-Free Environment during the previous quarter (January-March):  Okaloosa Youth Academy, Okaloosa Sex Offender Program, Crestview Sex Offender Program, JUST, TOVA II, OYDC BDD, and OYDC DD.  In addition, Walton Youth Development Center was recognized for its continued reductions in use of PAR.  

The “Program Spotlight” for this quarter’s meeting was Okaloosa Youth Development Center serving low- and moderate-risk borderline developmentally disabled youth and high-risk developmentally disabled youth.  Clinical Director Tamara Bogle shared a power point presentation with the group highlighting their efforts to reduce physical intervention and promote normalization in their program.  Their initiative began with changing the environment and their mindset—eliminating the use of controlled observation, converting the CO rooms into tranquility rooms with bean bags and murals inspired by and painted by the youth, increased community involvement for all youth which includes five community outings/activities a week—for every one incentive trip/activity the boys have to participate in four community service type activity per week.  This has been a vehicle by which the boys are simultaneously learning to give back to their community, experience positive community involvement, and earn rewards.  

After the Program Director’s meeting the Northwest Area Residential staff attended a staff meeting.  Among the many agenda items, we took time out to celebrate the staff with birthdays during this quarter (April-June): Jeanine Rhodes, Sarah Hollar, April Denney, April Lewis and Linda Lynn.  Birthday cake was enjoyed by all after they blew out all the candles…on the first try!

Pictured here are Jeanine Rhodes, April Lewis, April Denney, Linda Lynn and Sarah Hollar.

Earlier this month, the Big Cypress Wilderness Institute, a moderate-risk program for males, ages 14 to 18, that is operated by AMIKids, Inc., was presented with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) accreditation banner.  This accreditation means that Big Cypress is an industry-recognized institution, providing all participating students with transferrable skills and certifications from the campus to job sites.  One of the newer offerings for Big Cypress residents is the NCCER Core Curriculum, which is a prerequisite to all other Level 1 craft curricula offered by NCCER.  Its modules cover topics such as Basic Safety, Communication Skills and Introduction to Construction Drawings.  Completing this curriculum gives the trainee the basic skills needed to continue education in any craft area he or she chooses.

Luther Vargas, pictured here, is an NCCER-accredited mason who has been teaching masonry at Big Cypress.  He is a student favorite; every student wants to be in the masonry class.  One student said, “Masonry is hard work…but it will help me build my biceps and shoulder muscles.”

Probation Update

Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson, pictured left, assisted with food set up and serving at the Special Olympics Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run on Monday. This annual event was held at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge and proceeds from the run benefit the athletes participating in the Special Olympics of Florida. The Special Olympics of Florida Summer Games will be held May 16-17 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Last Tuesday, Circuit 6 SJPO Katherine Gomez was the guest lecturer for a corrections class at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Katherine gave the class an overview of the Department including potential career possibilities within our agency and graduate educational possibilities using the state’s employee tuition waiver. Many of the students in attendance were interested in career opportunities in community corrections and several students were interested specifically in the world of juvenile justice. 

The staff from the Circuit 3 Probation Office conducted a presentation for a criminal justice class at Columbia High School in Lake City last week. SJPO Buddy Dopler and JPOs David Bedenbaugh and Albert Coker led discussions with the class on juvenile court proceedings and probation functions. The Department is excited to have the opportunity to nurture the budding interest of the future criminal justice workforce. 

On April 7, CPO Adrienne Conwell from Circuit 6 received a letter of appreciation from Professor Debra Mims at Saint Leo University in regards to two of her probation officers: SJPO Kim Myers and JPOS Harold Garves. Kim and Harold spoke with a criminal justice class at the college and their information was well received. The letter reads:

On behalf of the Criminal Justice Department of Saint Leo University and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to commend SJPO Kim Myers and Supervisor Harold Garves for taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their knowledge and expertise to the students of Saint Leo University.

Both Kim and Harold presentations to the Saint Leo students regarding the procedures, practices and various assistance programs available within the juvenile justice system were excellent and informative. The information and handouts they gave the students was an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about the agency, hiring requirements, working with juveniles and afforded them the ability to address their questions and concerns.

The feedback from the students was impressive; they truly felt the presentation was exactly on target for their academic and future employment possibilities, as well as providing excellent information on the many programs accessible for juveniles. Both Kim and Harold are truly an asset to your organization and I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know that we appreciate their service. 

Last Wednesday, Probation Staff from Circuit 16 held the first Color My World event for the youth in their care. The event was geared toward at-risk youth in the community between the ages of 11-17 with the goal of inspiring them to change their lives and become responsible adults by exposing them to creative expression, career exploration and motivational speakers. Local artists donated their time in creating the outline of the mural shown left, with the youth being tasked to paint the rest of it. The mural will be displayed at the Monroe RJDC. 

Circuit 5 Probation held their 10th Annual Connecting Through Change Conference on April 11 which brought together area leaders from DCF, Marion County School System, Project Connect and BAYS to learn through information sessions such as personal safety, the Marchman Act and understanding recovery. During the conference, JPO Meghan Thrasher was presented with the Circuit 5 Probation Officer of the Year award. 

Administrative Professional’s Day was celebrated this past Wednesday. DJJ recognized and thanked the many administrative professionals across the agency that work to make sure many of the “behind the scenes” items get accomplished – like Circuit 20 Administrative Assistant Linda Trammell. Linda keeps the probation staff updated on purchasing, archives, inventories, PARs and other administrative duties. Thank you Linda for going above and beyond with your work. You stand as an asset to the Department and are an amazing team player. And again, thank you to all the Department’s administrative professionals for the work you do every day!  

Recently, Circuit 13 Probation Staff were having a difficult time helping those youth who live in rural Hillsborough County and do not have transportation to earn their community service work hours. Accordingly, JPO Robin Lindsey came up with an innovative approach to ensure these youth can fulfill their requirements. Robin picks the kids up and reports to the probation field office where she arranged for them to wash state vehicles. This has proven to be beneficial for all involved and Robin and the probation youths have a good time working together. 

Last Wednesday, Reform Specialist Khalilah Daniels, Jennifer Cristiano-Czaja from the Hillsborough County Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) and Monica Martinez from the Circuit 13 Court Diversion Program attended the City of Tampa School Resource Officer (SRO) meeting. During the meeting, the trio discussed Civil Citation and the Roadmap to System Excellence as well as how our Department processes youth through the JAC. The meeting gave SROs the opportunity to ask questions about the juvenile justice process and front-end probation services. 

Probation staff from Circuit 11 recently completed its first community service project at Golden Glades Elementary School in Miami Gardens. The project took place over two weekends and enlisted the help of nine DJJ staff members and various community leaders and law enforcement officers as well as 23 youth in our care through the STEP Program and the Miami Gardens Police Explorers. These volunteers beautified the front of the school and filled in existing garden beds with plans. This partnership provided a safe and structured environment for our youth to earn valuable community service hours. 

SJPO Greg Moore, JPOS Phillipa Robertson and JPOs Amanda Lopresti Ivan Ilarraza, Rhonda Taylor and Elsie Ilarraza represented Circuit 13 during the 4th Annual Law Enforcement & Safety Day on April 12 at the Grant Park Community Center in Tampa. This event was designed to educate youth, parents, educators and residents of the local community about the significance in helping law enforcement and other agencies protect the community as well as the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own safety and wellbeing.

ACPO Dorothy Malik and JPOs LeAndrea Darden and Timorya Ware from Circuit 19 attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Ft. Pierce Community Garden on Tuesday. Ft. Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson and other city dignitaries were on hand to cut the ribbon. City and county agencies made donations of various garden tools that will be shared among the vendors that were granted plots in the garden. Circuit 19 probation was awarded two plots that our youth will plant and maintain while earning valuable community service hours. The crop harvested will be given back to those less fortunate in the local community. 

(from left to right): Mayor Linda Hudson; JPO Timorya Ware, JPO LeAndrea Ware and ACPO Dorothy Malik.

On Tuesday, the Honorable Judge Stacy Ross hosted Dolphin Days at the Broward County Courthouse in Circuit 17 where 22 of our youth on probation or conditional release were on hand to hear from cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The two standout defensive players spoke candidly to the youth about their background and life challenges that they encountered on their path to achieving their dreams. The youth asked great questions and the ones who asked the best questions received autographed footballs. I would like to thank DJJ’s own Janice Charlassier who coordinated this event.

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene visited female youth and donated copies of her book entitled, “Let Your Lessons Become Your Blessings,” to the girls from the Hillsborough West Detention Center in Tampa last Friday. Tina visited to encourage the young ladies to take proactive steps in preventing re-entry and accomplishing dreams. Tina was joined on her visit by Alisa Persad, Founder of the organization Taking Opportunities to Reach Compelling Heights (TORCH). The mission of TORCH is to Educate! Enlighten! Empower! young women to ignite and reach their full potential while becoming productive community citizens. TORCH aims to connect with young women newly released from the Florida Prison / Juvenile Justice System, as well as those who have “aged out” of Foster Care, by assisting with facilitating their positive integration into society. We serve to not only empower, educate and enlighten this high risk, underperforming demographic, but ultimately to create positive environments and legacies for the children and families that depend on them.

(from left to right): Tina Levene poses with youth at the Hillsborough West Detention Center. At far right is Alisa Persad, Founder of the organization Taking Opportunities to Reach Compelling Heights (TORCH). The mission of TORCH is to Educate! Enlighten! Empower! young women to ignite and reach their full potential while becoming productive community citizens.

Lucas Boyce, State Advisory Group (SAG) Chairman and Director of Business and Development for the Orlando Magic, spoke to students at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee about “Life Lessons for Success, Leadership and Character,” on April 16. Boyce was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott as SAG Chair in 2012 and as a Valencia College trustee in 2013. Boyce serves on the Orange County Library Board, TSA Services Advisory Committee, Central Florida Fairgrounds, the National Coalition for Adoption Institute, Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida and on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s Service Academy Nomination Board. Boyce received his bachelor’s degree in political science and speech communication from UCM and graduated with his master’s in business administration from Rollins College in 2013. He published his book entitled “Living Proof: From Foster Care to the White House and the NBA” in 2011, and travels across the country giving speeches focused on leadership, teamwork, overcoming obstacles and making a positive impact on the lives of others.   

On April 9, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis attended the Youth Success Recognition Ceremony to honor young people for improving their behavior and academic performance at the Perry House in Pensacola. Approximately 15 youth received certificates from the Council and State Rep. Greg Evers. Youth who received certificates were recognized for their outstanding performance in academics, career goals, GED passage and college enrollment. CPO Paul Wallis received proclamations from Assistant School Superintendent Norm Ross, Commissioner Lumon Ray, Mayor Ashton Haywood, Rep. Helen Gibson. The Council gave gift certificates to winners of the poster contest and also awarded a youth from the Escambia Boys Base for the poem he wrote on “Respecting Authority – A Pathway to Success.” Special thanks to Escambia sheriff David Morgan, Camp-Fire Gulf Winds and Lavonne Haven, Jamie Cochran, Lutheran Services, Carmela Bechtel, Informed Families, Rick Branch, First United Methodist Church, Ken Myers (Chair of Escambia County Juvenile Justice Council), Rodney Jones, PAHWAY for Change and Chief JPO Paul Wallis.

(from left to right): CJPO Paul Wallis listens as Assistant Superintendent of Schools Norm Ross speaks before presenting Wallis with a proclamation

Detention Update

On Wednesday, the Bay RJDC Community Advisory Board with help from Bay District School Board Liaison Anne Martin hosted a pizza party for the youth at the facility who had 100% participation during FCAT testing over the last two weeks. All of the youth were able to enjoy pizza and soft drinks while unwinding after the testing was completed. Anne and Paraprofessional Vickie Brown are pictured left with several of the male youth who were all smiles as they enjoyed their pizza. The youth were very appreciative of the generosity shown to them. 

The Teens Assisting Puppies (TAPS) Program at the Brevard RJDC saw its last puppy leave last week. The young pup named Star (pictured left) was an amazing dog. The kids at the facility trained her to sit, shake, beg and talk and very much enjoyed having her do tricks. Star was adopted last week by one of our juvenile probation officers.

During Easter weekend JPO Phyllis Ivory, along with the food services team, spearheaded a number of fun activities for the youth at the Marion RJDC. The youth colored Easter eggs, decorated cupcakes and participated in a poster contest. We received a wonderful donation of egg-dyeing kits, icing and sprinkles from a local business-these items really helped make it extra special. The youth had a great time and the staff enjoyed being able to share in these uplifting activities. 

Jeff Wenhold, Chief of Policy and Planning for the Office of Detention Services, visited the Pinellas RJDC this week to see firsthand the changes being made to the facility. These changes are a part of the Trauma Informed Care Initiative under the direction of Superintendent Monica Gray. Both Monica and JDO Sharon Brown took Jeff on a tour of the facility. 

Juvenile Detention Officer Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the following juvenile detention officers (JDOs) who graduated today in a ceremony at Broward College in Davie.  JDOs supervise youth in state-operated regional juvenile detention centers (RJDCs) as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. The graduates successfully completed 240 hours of training to become certified officers. They will work in the DJJ facility listed next to their name. Thanks to Mamine Saintil, assistant superintendent of Miami-Dade RJDC, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to Learning Consultant Andrea Minnis, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility.

Front row (left to right):  Jarion Hardin-Collier RJDC, Brandon Perez-Dade RJDC, Elsa Molina-Collier RJDC, Ingrid Vargas-Collier RJDC, Darly Ford-Broward RJDC

Back row:  Andrea Minnis-Learning Consultant, Anthony Diaz-Palm Beach RJDC, Brandon Thron-Collier RJDC, Travis Rhymer-Palm Beach RJDC, Bradley Rose-Dade RJDC, Joseph Sena-Collier RJDC, Jimmie Arnold II-Palm Beach RJDC

Skill Pro Kudos

Director Denny Clark and the Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) commends the SkillPro Team members for their expertise and diligence as they continue to fine tune the SkillPro learning management system. Special thanks go to Jackie Suttle and the MIS team members – Sharon Arnold, John Chappell, Dan Daume, Jackie Johnson, Sharon Long, Ryan Osterman (MIS/Catapult) and Darron Toston; Alexander “Al” Lewis and data integrity officers Jeff Clarcq, Kelcey Hall, and Lori Workman; and Shawn Sherman (SD&T/LXR). These team members are doing unprecedented work in SkillPro to create a seamless online experience.

Quality Improvement Update

Quality Improvement (QI) Certified Peer Reviewer Trainings: The Bureau of Quality Improvement (QI) recently conducted Certified Peer Reviewer training sessions at various locations throughout the state.  During the months of March and April, Bureau staff trained fifty-five people, representing provider-operated residential and day treatment programs, and Department staff from Probation and Detention Services. The two-day training sessions were conducted in Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

During the interactive training sessions, participants received an overview of the Quality Improvement process and were provided the opportunity to practice evaluating documentation, complete writing exercises and learn how to apply ratings to indicators. In order to become a certified peer reviewer, each trainee was required to pass a final exam (this was accomplished by all fifty-five participants!) and complete the Department’s Motivational Interviewing training.

The Bureau would like to thank those who took the time to attend the training, as well as the agencies that sent their staff to the training.  The Bureau of Quality Improvement relies on the skills and expertise of these trained professional staff to conduct valid reviews of juvenile justice programs. The certified peer reviewers expertise and hands-on knowledge brings an element to reviews that are invaluable. 

Terry Evans, Randy Reynolds, Benjamin Overgaard, Pamela Cummins, Kameika Bonner, Dennis McKinney, Lori Bright and Kent Rinehart on hand for training in Tampa

Global Day of Giving Back

North Highland Consulting, an organization that has been instrumental in getting our Shared Services Initiative off the ground, will host their third annual Global Day of Giving Back tomorrow at the Carrie Wilson Miccosukee Boys and Girls Club to support the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend. Approximately 25 employees of North Highland and their families will clean up around the entrance to the club as well as working inside the facility including painting the kitchen and bathroom and deep cleaning and organizing other areas. This effort will allow Boys and Girls Club members to have a nice place to go every day after school. Additionally, the volunteers will donate games, toys, sports equipment and supplies to the facility.

Florida Retirement System Financial Planning Workshops

The Florida Retirement System is offering free financial planning workshops for your FRS-covered employees via webcast.  The workshops will be held on Tuesday, April 29, and Wednesday, April 30, and will be on the following topics: 


10:00 a.m. to Noon ET

1:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Tuesday, April 29

Using the FRS to Plan for Retirement

Estate Planning: Caring for Your Loved Ones

Wednesday, April 30

Nearing Retirement in the FRS

FRS Investment Plan: Understanding Your Benefits


 Employees wishing to register for these workshops should call 1-866-446-9377, Option 2. 


Employees who sign up to attend an online workshop will receive details for logging in and participating a few days prior to the workshop.


Employees in the Tallahassee area can attend the workshops in person at the State Board of Administration, 1801 Hermitage Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

If you have any questions, contact Lorna Jackson in the Bureau of Personnel at (850) 717-2656.

Trauma Informed Care Webinar

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) National Center for Youth in Custody (NCYC) will present “Trauma Informed Care,” the first Webinar in the series “What Works? A Practitioners Response to Theory and Evidence,” on April 30. This webinar will provide a training and testimonial to the use and success of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) in juvenile confinement facilities. The Webinar will explain what TIC is, how to go about implementing it in your facility, as well as what is currently being done in TIC facilities along with their observations and success rates.

I am so pleased that two of our own will be speaking on this panel: South Region Detention Director Dr. Gladys Negron and North Region Detention Director Dixie Fosler. For more information concerning this webinar including registration information, please click here.