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Secretary's Message

May 23, 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

A Special Note 

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. The efforts of this agency’s staff and partners have influenced a tremendous shift. A change in not only how this agency is viewed but how the children we serve are viewed. These children are now seen as the troubled youth they are as opposed to the throw away children of the past with no hope for a future.

I would also like to express my pride and gratitude to Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for the support they have provided to this agency and the reform efforts we have embarked upon. Without their recognition, our work would have been much more difficult.

I have no doubt that Governor Scott will select someone to lead this agency that shares my passion for providing youth who come to this agency with the right services and supports to lead them to successful adulthood.

DJJ Employee of the Month

I am pleased to honor SJJDO Glynis Jones as DJJ’s Employee of the Month for April 2014.  Glynis is assigned to the 3rd shift intake and release unit at the Hillsborough RJDC West and is responsible for all admission and releases from the juvenile assessment center and the hub transportation system.  She has consistently demonstrated her ability to multitask and her extensive knowledge of detention has allowed her to assist in a variety of capacities. Glynis personifies the saying "Leadership is not defined by your title but what you do for others." Her dedication to not only her team but to DJJ overall has made her a wise choice for employee of the month and I would like to extend my thanks to her for her efforts. 

Please join me in congratulating Glynis on this tremendous honor! 

The Employee of the Month for May will be highlighted in the near future and I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending your nominations for the monthly DJJ Employee of the Month Award. You can do so by clicking here.

On Monday, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly met with Circuit 9 Probation staff.  The interactive meeting gave staff the opportunity to discuss reform work with Deputy Secretary Daly as well as identify things that are working and also the challenges they are facing in their respective communities.  It was an informative and helpful meeting, and I appreciate all that participated. 

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary Daly attended the CareerSource Florida Strategic Policy Council meeting in Orlando.  CareerSource Florida is a business-led statewide workforce investment board that provides policy oversight and designs strategies to address critical statewide workforce needs. She also attended the CareerSource Florida Board meeting on Wednesday. The CareerSource Florida Board consists of business, education and government leaders appointed largely by the Governor.

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell (Circuits 11,16, & 17), attended a roundtable discussion last week entitled “Mentorship:  Supporting the Holistic Development of Boys and Men of Color – A 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project Case Study” in Miami Gardens.  The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African American roundtable series is designed to promote positive and asset-based approaches to supporting the learning and development for students of color.  The discussion highlighted the importance of supporting the academic, social and emotional development for students of color; an overview of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project who actively support the cognitive social and emotional development of boys and men of color in Miami-Dade; and, promoted promising and proven programs, practices and policies accelerating the learning and development. 

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, US House of Representatives (FL-24) provided the opening and welcoming remarks.  David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, was the moderator.

The first roundtable discussion was on “Learning from the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project:  Supporting and Educational Excellence of Boys and Men of Color through mentoring and parent engagement.”  The panelists were: Cong. Wilson; William Mendoza, Director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education; Carl Hughes, Student and 5000 Role Models Club President; Oscar Braynon, Senator, Florida Senate (33rd District); Herbert Hughes, parent; Alonzo Mourning, Former Miami Heat center and Founder of the Mourning Family Foundation.

The second roundtable discussion was “Opportunities to Improve Learning and Development Programs and Supports for Students of Color.”  The panelists were:  Marco Davis, Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Don Diego Maurice, 5000 Role Models Club President; Marcus Bright, Executive Director, Education for a Better America; Amy Wilkins, Senior Fellow, College Board; and Albert Dotson, Commissioner, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Assistant Secretary Finnie also attended the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project Senior High School Conference. 

 On May 10th, thirty girls from the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County attended the annual prom at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee.  The Student Council members worked with staff, board members, and volunteers to create an enchanted evening for the girls.  Palmer Monroe staff went above and beyond to help make certain all those that attended had a wonderful evening filled with twinkling lights and fun photo props.  After a night of eating great food and dancing the girls went home smiling.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene (Circuits 10 & 13)  had the opportunity to attend the Kids Place Charity Event last week in Tampa.  As a Licensed Therapeutic Foster Parent, Tina is an advocate and strong supporter for youth in foster care. She was also able to meet the keynote speaker at the event, Derek Clark.  Derek, also known as “The Rapping Dad,” is an author, motivational speaker and former foster care youth.

Derek’s celebrity exposure has been featured on Ricki Lake, NBC’s Steve Harvey Show and has over one million views of his rapping skills on YouTube (Derek’s website is: www.iwillnevergiveup.com).  Derek is a prime example that your past does not have to define your future. 

We would like to give kudos to Kelly Belanger, who represented the Alachua County Boys & Girls club in April at the Boys and Girls Club of America’s “Youth of the Year” competition in Orlando. 

Youth of the Year is the Boys and Girls Club of America’s premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals, poise and public speaking ability.  Kelly exemplifies all of these traits and she represented Alachua County with a great deal of class and poise.  While she was not chosen as Florida's Youth of the Year, she is most definitely a winner.  Kelly, at the age of 18, graduated from Santa Fe College on May 2nd as a dual enrollment student and will begin working on her degree in August at the University of Florida.  Kelly will continue to be actively committed to Club while attending UF by volunteering and teaching our SMART Moves program at the Northwest Unit.

Congratulations go out to the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County, who received an Honor Award for Excellence in Sports, Fitness and Recreation at Boys & Girls Clubs of America's (BGCA) 108th National Conference held in San Francisco, CA.

The organization received a $5,000 award from MetLife Foundation, sponsor of the annual recognition program, which honors local clubs for innovative and effective programming which usher youth towards great futures. The Honor Award for Program Excellence in Sports, Fitness and Recreation is presented to a club conducting an outstanding program that helps young people become physically fit, make positive use of leisure time, develop social and stress management skills, and appreciate the environment.

The award-winning Be Great Football League (BGFL) is a multifaceted sports-based youth development program that uses football as a catalyst to promote Great Futures in the youth who need us most.  The purpose of this program is to reduce, prevent, and control the probability of youth participating in negative behaviors such as juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, gang involvement, and dropping out of school while providing tools for success through Boys & Girls Club of America's (BGCA) Formula for Impact. 

"In communities nationwide, Boys & Girls Clubs play a vital role in providing young people with safe places to learn and grow," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "We are pleased to recognize Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County for providing exemplary programs and making a positive difference in the lives of local young people."

On May 13th, University of Florida basketball star Will Yeguete visited the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County NW’s campus where he played basketball and spent time with the kids.  Boys & Girls Club officials greatly appreciate the endless amount of dedicated and meaningful hours their precious volunteers provide to their youth.

This past month we’ve had several groups from UF volunteer with the center.  Alpha Epsilon Delta did arts & crafts with center’s elementary students, Phi Alpha Delta conducted Easter activities and an Easter egg hunt, and Delta Nu Zeta visited twice to help with student homework and tutoring programs.  In addition, the UF Cicerones, Theta Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon assisted members with homework and conducted a field day.  Kappa Delta Pi also put on their 4th Literacy Alive Book Fair for the 2013-2014 school year and it was a success as always.

The Club would also like to extend a tremendous thank you to Alpha Phi Omega.  Alpha Phi Omega sends out 5-10 volunteers each day to assist members with homework.  They have been assisting throughout the semester and have committed to joining the center again for next year!

Probation Update

Circuit 11 Probation would like to share this inspiring thank you letter received from Ms. Crystal J. Spencer, Principal at Golden Glades Elementary School.  DJJ’s employees and youth volunteered their time and donated supplies to help revamp the school’s campus.  We would like to join Principal Spencer in thanking them for their hard work and volunteerism.

This week, Statewide PACT Coordinator Amy Greenwald led all of the certified PACT Trainers statewide in Jacksonville.  She updated the trainers on PACT business rules, YES plans and the new updated training curriculum.  The team also welcomed new PACT trainers.  The PACT team focused on staff fidelity, PACT and YES Plan fidelity and the significance of the PACT instrument. 

Circuit 18 kicked off their Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) implementation on Thursday, May 15th.  There were over 45 community participants from both Brevard and Seminole Counties.  Helen Jones-Kelley and Macon Stewart with the Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform provided a comprehensive overview of the CYPM model.

Circuit 7 Chief Probation Officer David Kerr and some of his key stakeholders also shared information about “Lessons Learned” when they implemented the model in Volusia County. The community members then created an implementation plan to begin the work to roll out this model in Circuit 18.  Participants were excited and offered a great deal of feedback. Additional participants were identified and they will be contacted by various members of the newly formed implementation team.   

Kudos to Circuit 18 Reform Specialist Tracy Olson who has begun to mentor an at-risk girl in Seminole County.  This girl’s family is struggling financially and Tracy agreed to help purchase a dress for the girl’s 8th grade school dance.  Tracy took her shopping and found a very nice dress for her to wear.  She helped her find shoes and took her to have her hair done for the dance as well.  JPO Holly Fernandes also volunteered to do her make up.  The dance was held Friday evening. All those that attended had a wonderful time.  Tracy received an e-mail from the young lady’s mother thanking Tracy and Holly for their help.  Thank you to both for dedicating their time to make this a special day for this youth.  

Circuit 4 JPO Ashley Graves competed last Saturday in a 5K run benefiting Sadie’s House, a battered women’s shelter.  A donation was made for her participation and she placed 1st overall in the Women’s category.  Congratulations to Ashley for placing 1st and helping to raise money for such a great cause.   

Circuit 19 shared the following email regarding SJPO Christopher Hamel’s work with a youth. Thank you Christopher for your commitment to seeing that all circumstances surrounding this youth’s situation were taken into consideration by the court. 

I just wanted to let you know that your hard work and dedication really pay off.  Stefan Watson had court today.  I know you remember that he was the young man that was arrested and the state had filed paperwork to direct file him.  You stepped forward to Judge Williams and explained that you did not believe he understood what was going on.  You confirmed with his school that he was in ESE classes.  You were unrelenting in your position and as a result the Judge appointed experts to see if the child was competent.  He was not competent and has remained incompetent for more than a year.  You assisted this child, now young man, in a way that he cannot fully comprehend.  He easily could have ended up in adult jail and fighting against a lengthy prison sentence.  Instead he was accepted, with your help, to Smith day treatment where he has flourished.  If he remains on the right track the state will allow him to age out of the system and have his charges dismissed.  I know you still assist this young man and his family and I just wanted to tell you THANK YOU!  

Melinda Blostein

Assistant Public Defender

Attorney for the Child 

Residential Update 

Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, a maximum-risk program for males, ages 13 to 21, located in Citrus County and operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, submitted a nomination for a young man who subsequently won the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) “Youth Leadership Award.”  The youth’s award was announced last week at the FJJA 2014 Adolescent Conference that was held in Orlando.  The young man, W.W., was selected for his demonstration of leadership among his peers and for exhibiting his commitment to positive changes in his life.

In the nomination submitted by the program, W.W. was recognized by Facility Administrator Torris Bennett as a young man who demonstrates leadership among his peers in the residential program, in his academic achievements, as a volunteer within the program who affects positive changes, and for his leadership skills.  “Youth [W.W.] arrived at our program from the Department of Corrections,” stated Torris.

“From the moment he has arrived he has assisted youth be it from education, religion, Individual Performance Plan goals, writing letters home to family members, individual group work, and he deals well with other youth in crisis,” Torris continued in his written nomination.  “He has obtained his high school diploma and is currently taking college courses.  He … entered a mentoring group called Team of One and has since graduated from the program and is currently a mentor for the group.  Youth [W.W.] consistently prays for individuals of the group and leads the group activities.  [He] has recently created and published a Youth News Letter with the Youth Advocate of the facility.  He also provides suggestions for our facility family days as well as participates in the festivities.  [He] is currently on the board for normalization for the program and provides insight to as how a youth would feel more at home in the corrections environment.  Some of his suggestions have already been put in place such as stylish haircuts, listening to music, and name brand personal items such as Dove soap.  Youth [W.W.] has demonstrated tremendous growth while in the program and everything he learns he shares with his peers and staff,” Torris concluded.

With the technical assistance of the program staff, DJJ Office of Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham made the award presentation to W.W. at Cypress Creek, which was video recorded at the facility and played the next day at the FJJA Awards Luncheon.  After greeting the audience in the room at Cypress Creek and at the Awards Luncheon, she introduced herself and the blushing young man—W.W.—standing at the podium.  She stated, “This is the first FJJA Youth Leadership Award.”

Laura explained the criteria for nomination and that the competition included young people from a variety of youth-serving programs across the state.  She continued, “He embraced his educational opportunities by very, very quickly achieving his high school diploma 

He is now in his second semester of college, taking 36 credits.  In his first semester, he achieved a 4.0 grade point average and was honored with the Phi Beta Kappa award.”

Addressing W.W. directly, Laura said, “When you came to DJJ, you had a choice.  You could have taken a path of self-pity but you chose a different path.  You worked with your team here and you chose a path of making positive change and responsibility.  It is for all of these reasons,” she continued, “that I am so honored on behalf of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association, Secretary Wansley Walters, and all of us who work for and with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to give you this award.” 

After enthusiastic applause from those gathered in the room at the facility and calls of “speech, speech,” W.W. then thanked all of the staff and therapists at the program for working with him and encouraging him.  

Shown above, W.W. also thanked his mother who attended the FJJA Awards Luncheon, waving at the camera and asking her not to embarrass him. 

Office of Health Services

Dr. Rajiv Tandon, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Florida, provided a four hour training session on the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) for DJJ clinicians and staff on May 12th at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando.  There was an attendance of 139 DJJ clinicians and staff at the DSM-5 Training, and the attendees rated the training as “Excellent”.  The DSM-5 Training was sponsored by the Department of Juvenile Justice in conjunction with the Florida Juvenile Justice Association to assist DJJ clinicians and staff in understanding the new DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for mental disorders and preparing for transition from the DSM-IV to DSM-5.  The  DSM-5 Training power point will be placed on the DJJ website on the OHS webpage and also on the FJJA website. 

Staff Development and Training Update 

On May 16, Denny Clark, director of the DJJ Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T), partnered with members of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) and staff from DJJ offices to collaborate on SD&T’s vision for professional learning opportunities.  The group was comprised of experienced juvenile justice professionals who contributed valuable perspectives and expertise representing the full continuum of services for youth--prevention, probation and residential services.

Thanks to Cathy Craig-Myers, executive director of the FJJA, Debbie Moroney and Lynn Kiehne, regional directors for PACE Center for Girls, Dr. Pam Alvarez, CEO of Bay Area Youth Services, Jon Mark Howard, state project director for the Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, Bridget Goodrich, director of staff development and training for G4S Youth Services, Daryl Betts, director of training for Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, and Joseph Nixon, administrator of residential programs for The Center for Drug Free Living, for contributing their experience and insight.  

Thank you also to participating DJJ staff: Tom McFadyen, residential services director for the north region; Jon Loftheim, detention services director for the central region; Cathy Lake, Circuit 9 probation chief; Audrey “Pat” McGhee, prevention services specialist; Christine Gurk, residential services registered nursing consultant; Jeffrey Lonton, detention superintendent; and Irma Terry, juvenile detention officer supervisor.  Participating SD&T staff included Cina Wilson-Johnson, deputy director, Latrice Covington, budget and contract manager, Tanesha Blackmon, learning consultant, and Samadhi Jones, special projects coordinator.  SD&T seeks to strengthen the partnership with providers in guiding and strategizing professional learning.  Continuing this dialog is crucial as SD&T more clearly defines the learning opportunities juvenile justice professionals will need as reform progresses and services evolve.

Many thanks  to Dr. Jeffrey Goltz, Carolyn McMorran and David Heffernen of Valencia College for expertly facilitating this vitally important discussion.

Thank you to the SD&T staff members who served as presenters at the FJJA 2014 Adolescent Conference on May 12 and 13, 2014, in Orlando. The presentations, which qualified attendees for continuing education units, imparted valuable information and skills.  Jacqui Hagan presented Leadership in Living Colors: an avenue for supervisors to develop and improve their leadership, motivation, delegation, ethics, communication and feedback skills using juvenile justice scenarios.  Samadhi Jones conducted SMART Goals for Success--Inspire Your Teams Best with Less Stress: planning is a key step to success; turn a goal into a plan using the “SMART” methodology and create process steps to support success and achievement.

Congratulations to SD&T staff member Samadhi Jones and her dog, Jake, who were among the Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy Pet Partners teams honored by Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office on May 12 for service to the community.  More than 150 local teams offer comfort to citizens in local nursing homes, schools, hospitals, hospice, and rehabilitation facilities.

The DJJ Office of Staff Development and Training conducted a PAR workshop with master instructors May 14–16 in Orlando.  Topics included the Prison Rape Elimination Act and a detailed discussion about proposed changes to the PAR administrative rule, PAR policy and the direct care rule.  The points discussed will be published as part of the rule revision process.  Thanks to Kerrick May of Sequel Youth Services, Keith Ross of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Johnny Hart of Aspire and DJJ staff Omar Bohler, Artavia Parrish, Kiva Hagans, Andrea Minnis, Tanesha Blackmon for their participation.  Kudos to SD&T Deputy Director Cina Wilson-Johnson for leading this important training session and discussion, which will ultimately improve and strengthen the delivery of services to youth.

Quality Improvement Update

The Bureau of Quality Improvement (QI) conducts an annual review of each state-run and contracted provider program.  Quality Improvement staff work very hard throughout the year visiting programs focusing on continuous improvement in the services to children and operations.  It is not uncommon for a team of review specialists to work throughout the day with minimal breaks speaking with employees, combing through piles of documentation, interviewing youth, and doing whatever it takes to accomplish their goal.  When the day is complete, it is always fun for the team to get together and enjoy a meal or find some way to unwind from the day.

The photo to the left is a fine example of our Tampa team enjoying an evening at the Abbey Golf Course in Dade City after a day of performing the annual Quality Improvement review at Pasco Juvenile Detention Center.  Thank you to the QI staff for their dedication to accountability and the continuous improvement of our programs and services.

Shown above: Dave Cornuet, Glenn Garvey, Scott Luciano, Kent Rinehart, and Paul Sheffer. 

April 2014 Worker's Compensation Reports 

The April workers compensation reports have been posted.

Our Department reported 49 First Reports of Injury/Illness this month.  Detention reported 39 and other locations reported 10. Youth Related reports totaled 27 and other categories totaled 22. Youth Related reports (our highest risk category) account for 62% of incidents this year. Struck or Injured (12%) and Slip, Trip or Fall (11%) account for 23% of all incidents.

It’s important to note all First Reports don’t become workers compensation claims.  An injury requires more than first aid to become a claim.  Approximately 65% of DJJ First Reports become claims.  It’s important, however, to examine all Department First Reports to determine incident trends to help focus safety awareness and accident prevention.

We are currently experiencing an increase in Struck By and Slip, Trip or Fall categories.  These incidents occur in routine daily activities and job duties.  Examples include injuries while walking on various surfaces; walking in unfamiliar areas; walking up and down stairs and inclines; carrying objects obstructing the view of the walking surface; bumping into furniture; accidents involving chairs; falling objects from overhead; cell phone conversation distractions; improper use of tools; and in general, rushing through duties without regard to personal safety and the safety of co-workers.

Working safely is a job requirement.  Employees that consciously include safety in job duties are more productive and work more efficiently. Accidents affect employees, their families and our Department.

Supervisors can have a direct impact by making safety a priority for their employees.  Accidents should be thoroughly discussed with the involved employee including how the accident could have been prevented.  All accidents should be discussed in staff meetings and preventive measures should be taken to prevent similar accidents in the future.  Employees should be encouraged to report unsafe conditions and those conditions should be corrected.

Supervisors that review First Reports at locations similar to theirs and adopt the attitude, “if it can happen somewhere else, it can happen at my location”, can be proactive in safety awareness and accident prevention concerning these incidents at their location.  Employees will follow the lead of a supervisor that makes safety a priority.

Thanks for everything you do to keep our workplace safe!