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Secretary's Message

July 25, 2014

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

I am sincerely grateful for the hard work and steadfast dedication to this agency from those who work in juvenile justice across the state. As Secretary Walters did, I want to continue to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice and that of our partners. 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 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,

Christy Daly

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Meeting

I was excited to attend the quarterly Florida Children and Youth Cabinet meeting yesterday in Pensacola and am thrilled that former Secretary Wansley Walters will remain in her position as Chairwoman of this prestigious cabinet. The meeting heard from distinguished guests including Dr. Mimi Graham, director for the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention at FSU; Ellen Anderson from the Florida Hospital Association; Director Barbara Palmer from APD and Executive Director Alan Abramowitz from Guardian Ad Litem. 

On Wednesday, the Cabinet members participated in a site visit to the Baby Court in Escambia County. The "baby court" model is one in which judges, lawyers and caseworkers put the needs of traumatized infants and toddlers before any other considerations. Babies in troubled families can experience trauma that follows them the rest of their lives. As shared by Dr. Graham at the meeting, "What happens to young children does not go away. It’s the pipeline to (the Department of Juvenile Justice) and the Department of Corrections. It leads to mental-health problems and so many societal problems --- and we have reams of research that shows this connection."

The mission of the Cabinet is to ensure that the public policy of Florida relating to children and youth promotes interdepartmental collaboration and program implementation in order for services designed for children and youth to be planned, managed and delivered in a holistic and integrated manner to improve the self-sufficiency, safety, economic stability, health and quality of life of all children and youth in Florida. 

I would also like to recognize DJJ staff that attended the meeting. Thank you to Paul Wallis, Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer; Carmen Lundy, Assistant Chief Probation Officer; Therese Moses, GOC/Reform Specialist; Lydia Breaux-Davis, Prevention Specialist; and, Brenda Posthumus, Director of Special Projects, for attending.


DJJ Employee of the Month

I am pleased to honor Katherine Gomez as DJJ’s Employee of the Month for June 2014.  Aside from going above and beyond her job responsibilities, Katherine has worked with one particular female youth that became involved with the DJJ at the tender young age of 12. Her offenses were such that if she were an adult she would have been sentenced to prison. Whether at night or even on weekends, Katherine has been known to stop by this young lady's school, residence, or in the community should this youth need reassurance, extra direction, or counseling. Katherine has and continues to go the extra mile with this youth and her family while also devoting her time, energy, skills, and knowledge to all of the youth in her care.  As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Katherine was also recently promoted to Circuit 6 Data Integrity Officer.  Please join me in congratulating Katherine on her promotion and for being named Employee of the Month!

The Employee of the Month for July 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


Rally Against Gang and Gun Violence

Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs Marcus Smith spoke at a rally on gang and gun violence at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church last Sunday in Tallahassee. Bethel’s pastor, the Reverend R.B. Holmes, convened this rally to bring faith leaders together to help find a solution to these problems within the community which will ultimately curb the tide of violence. I would like to thank Marcus for his leadership and outreach with this rally. The Tallahassee Democrat produced a video on the topic and you can view it by clicking here. 


PACE Center Graduation

The PACE Center for Girls in Escambia and Santa Rosa County held a graduation last weekend at their new facility for the young ladies that recently completed the program. Executive Director for PACE Laurie Rodgers thanked the department for helping to make this new facility and graduation possible.  Congratulations to these young women on their graduation!



Prevention Update

Yesterday, Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson, Procurement Manager Teresa Millan,  Chief Probation Officer Jill Wells, and Assistant General Counsel Kim Ward, all graduated from the 2014 Certified Public Manager’s (CPM) class at the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall at Florida State University. The CPM program is a nationally-recognized leadership development program designed to develop more effective public managers, thereby improving services to all Florida taxpayers. The Florida CPM program will be honoring 420 new graduates this summer—the most in a single year. That will bring the total number of CPM graduates in Florida to approximately 4,800, more than in any other state.

In honor of these CPM graduates, Governor Rick Scott has designated the week of July 20-26, 2014 as “Certified Public Manager Recognition Week.” Florida has one of the most successful CPM programs in the country. It is administered by the Florida Center for Public Management at FSU, which is part of the Askew School of Public Administration.

These graduates have completed a rigorous two-year program, including 32 days of training, plus required projects, and exams. Over 100 government agencies—including cities, counties, state, and constitutional offices— have participated in the Florida CPM program.    

In the attached photo (from left to right): Wydee’a E. Wilson, CPO from Circuit 19; Teresa Millan, Prevention Procurement Manager, Jill Wells, CPO from Circuit 8; and Kimberly Sisko Ward, Assistant General Counsel.
          


Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie visited the Family Impressions Foundation last Thursday in Miami. The Foundation serves as a DJJ contracted provider as a youth prevention and family intervention program. Ms. Finnie spoke with the youth about goals and dreams and learned about the program’s services. The organization was established in March 2010 and its primary purpose is to focus on the various issues facing at-risk youth ages 13-21, and their families living in Miami-Dade County, the areas of North Miami Beach, North Miami, and its surrounding communities. Their mission is to support and empower parents with the tools and resources necessary to be effective parents, while challenging and cultivating their children to become valuable members of their families and productive citizens of society.   



Assistant Secretary Finnie also visited the Young Parents Project (YPP) of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida. YPP is a part of the FSU Center for Prevention and is a DJJ funded provider. Ms. Finnie also participated in a mentoring site visit with caseworker Barbara Ferrer. YPP provides gender-specific services, specifically to pregnant and parenting teens, to promote the ongoing growth and development of young mothers and their babies. YPP also provides very intense support to the girls and their families.



I would like to welcome Budget Manager Kevin R. Cleaver, Jr. who joined the team in the Office of Prevention last Friday. Kevin joined DJJ after 2½ years of service with the Florida Department of Agriculture. He comes to our agency with more than five years of private sector financial experience. Kevin graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Economics. 



 


Congratulations to State Advisory Group (SAG) Chairman Lucas Boyce who was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees on Monday. Governor Scott chose Boyce to fill a vacant seat on the FAMU board.  If approved by the Florida Senate, Boyce's term will run through January 2018.

Boyce, who was in foster care during his childhood, served as the associate director of President George W. Bush’s Office of Political Affairs.  Boyce is a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and serves on the Orlando County Library Board of Trustees.  Boyce earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree from Rollins College.  


Detention Update and Graduation 

I would like to share with you a letter from a youth who was housed at the Bay RJDC while awaiting placement in a residential facility. This remarkable young lady is a mother of a one-year-old daughter and like many of our youth came from a very difficult background. The staff at Bay went above and beyond as they assisted her in developing a more positive outlook and making the most of her time in our facility. The letter reads:

Thank y’all for guiding me to do the right thing in life. Y’all were like the mom I never had. I will never forget some of the things y’all have told me. Y’all helped me to do the right thing for me and my daughter. I know it’s time to grow up and finish school. I thank each and every one of y’all for the talks we have had. I know I have been hard headed, but what y’all told me I have took to heart. I will come back to visit but not to stay. I will finish my program, get my GED and be successful in life. I will see y’all in the future. I love y’all. 


 Juvenile Justice Officer Graduation

Congratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) that graduated today in a ceremony at Valencia College in Orlando. Thanks to David Heffernan, director of the Valencia College Criminal Justice Institute for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to DJJ learning consultant Tanesha Blackmon for leading the officers through the certification process for this position of critical responsibility. JDOs supervise youth in detention facilities as they await an appearance before the court or placement in a residential treatment program. Seminole County juvenile justice employees joined DJJ staff in this graduation. The graduates will serve in the county-run or DJJ regional juvenile detention center (RJDC) listed next to their names, below:


Left column (top to bottom): John Moon (Brevard RJDC), Juel Swanston (Orange RJDC), Quentin Jackson (Orange RJDC), Warrington Tyson, Jr. (Orange RJDC), and Lavar Spencer (Orange RJDC).

Middle column: Carla Browning (Orange RJDC), Gail Ellis (Seminole County Juvenile Detention Center), Leroy Green (Seminole County Juvenile Enforcement Center), and Andrea Sanders (Seminole County Juvenile Detention Center).

Right column: Douglas Fergerson (Orange RJDC), Antonio Ramirez (Orange RJDC), Emmett Diamond (Brevard RJDC), Leonard Addison, Jr. (Orange RJDC), Shanavia Holmes (Orange RJDC), and Brenda Rivera-Colon (Orange RJDC).


Congratulations to our Escambia Regional Detention Center “SUPERSTAR” – Officer Henry Livingston. He was chosen by the Army to appear on this advertisement for career selection for Military Operational Specialty. Officer Livingston received a personal phone call from Washington, DC recruiting him for the publication. He is pictured left in the publication wearing his Army uniform.  

GO ARMY STRONG!


Residential Update

Classroom Education and Conference Experience Help Youth Succeed 

The Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, a maximum-risk program for males, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently held a graduation ceremony for the young men who graduated high school and celebrated the nine residents who are now attending college online.


Four residents of the Dade Juvenile Residential Facility—another G4S-operated program—a nonsecure program for males, ages 13 to 18, were able to attend the Annual Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) Conference held conference in Orlando.  Accompanied by program staff members and Volunteer Coordinator Judy Vento, the young men enjoyed learning about conferences in general and they had a great time during their first out-of-town experience.  The highlight of their trip was spending time with former program resident David Lester.  David won an FJJA Youth Leadership Award.  In addition to all the success he has enjoyed since completing the program, David returns and speaks to the youth in addition to serving as a mentor to many of them.


Residential Programs Include Homelike Décor and Activities to Create Normalcy

With a fresh start under the leadership of Program Director Pamela Rollins and Assistant Program Director Sherry Tyson, the residents of Broward Girls Academy have undertaken activities to create a more homelike environment in the program.  Broward Girls Academy is a nonsecure program operated by Youth Services International, Inc. that serves females, ages 14 to 19.  The staff and residents have focused on adding homelike touches throughout the facility, using colors and artistic designs in various areas.  











Photos above: (Left) Two young ladies work together to enhance the normalcy and beautification of the facility.  (Right) Clinical Director Stephanie Savo is “all-in” helping the young ladies’ normalcy project progress.  

Photos below: (Left) A young lady adds finishing touches to the personalization and beautification of the facility.  (Right) The finished look shows a variety of artistic talents, adding flowers and hearts to the dayroom.  











The Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, serving high-risk males, ages 13 to 18, celebrated Independence Day with activities like one would attend at a neighborhood party.  The program held a “Wet n Wild” party for the young men and staff of the facility.  Facility Administrator Paul Brown manned the grill, cooking up delicious hamburgers and hot dogs along with picnic-type sides.  Staff members and residents enjoyed carnival-like activities, such as water balloon musical chairs, an obstacle course, water bowling, and bobbing for apples.  They enjoyed interacting with each other and getting wet on a hot, Independence Day!






Pictured above:  The young men participated in Water Balloon Musical Chairs and Bobbing for Apples.


Probation Update

The Chi Psi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Social Justice and Human Rights Committee recently partnered with the Department of Juvenile Justice in Circuit 17 as well as the PACE Center for Girls and the Mount Olive Development Corporation (MODCO) to conduct a girls-only series entitled “Real Talk.” This event was held for young ladies ages 11-17 and featured Dr. Rosiland Osgood, President and CEO of MODCO, Associate Pastor at the Mouth Bethel Baptist Church and author of the book “Story Behind the Story.” All youth who attended received an autographed copy of Dr. Osgood’s book.




Circuit 17 Reform Specialist Tabitha Bush accompanied victim advocate Jumorrow Johnson at the PACE Center for Girls last Saturday to educate youth and their families on domestic sex trafficking. Both the PACE Center and our agency worked closely with Jumorrow and her family for nearly two years. The event was a great success as youth and their parents were able to listen and ask questions with a survivor of human trafficking. The following Monday, Tabitha and Jumorrow presented to the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition to educate more of our youth on human trafficking. Youth in attendance earned valuable community service hours by creating a public service announcement poster. 









Probation staff from Circuit 17 partnered with the Harris Chapel Church last weekend for the Second Annual One Love Youth Summit. The summit was a two-day event that empowered our youth to focus on the issues of their generation. The summit introduced our youth to positive music and different forms of expression that didn’t come with negative connotations. Reform Specialist Tabitha Bush gave the parents in attendance a presentation on the Roadmap to System Excellence and Human Trafficking. 





Probation staff from Circuit 16 partnered with the local Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC) to find a home for a foster teen in their care. DJJ and GAL convinced the FKOC to give the youth a sixty day placement in one of their transitional homeless group homes. I would like to thank our staff down there in the Florida Keys for their great team work in giving this youth a place to call home.


Last Friday, the Department of Juvenile Justice in Circuit 11 and youth from the Success through Empowerment Program (STEP) attended a teen summit hosted by the City of Miami Gardens. The youth were divided into groups and attended workshops designed to allow them to discuss their fears in dealing with law enforcement. Other topics included: Crimes and Consequences, Bullying and Envy, Pregnancy and Prevention, Domestic Violence and Human trafficking. The summit was a huge success as STEP fielded the largest number of youth and parental participants. 


I would like to congratulate Operations Analyst Patricia Tuthill and founder of the Peyton Tuthill Foundation, who was recently reappointed by Governor Rick Scott to the State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision. Patricia’s term will end on June 30, 2017.







Circuit 1 Reform Specialist Therese Moses, Phyllis Gonzales from DCF and Adoptions Recruiter Terri Marshall were invited guests on WPSM-FM with Carolyn Ketchel this week. Therese was asked to talk to the public about volunteering to mentor DJJ children and volunteering to become foster parents. The trio also promoted the upcoming prayer breakfast for the Okaloosa/Walton faith community this morning at the Niceville United Methodist Church.


 


JPOs from Circuit 8 participated in the Alachua County Youth Summit last Tuesday and Wednesday at Eastside High School in Gainesville. A total of 39 DJJ youth were on hand hailing from probation and teen court. These youth met with law enforcement and community leaders including University of Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donavan, Jr. who spoke on the importance of setting goals, following their dreams and completing their education. The Summit, which is organized each year by the Alachua County Juvenile Justice Council, gave our youth great information regarding the choices and consequences they make as well as alternative education opportunities. 





(left to right):  Ebony Eutsey, Greg Pelham (Chair of the Alachua County Juvenile Justice Council) and Billy Donovan, Jr.


The Circuit 10 Juvenile Justice Board welcomed Eckerd Project Bridge Program graduate Juwan Vann at their recent July meeting. Juwan was selected as a Youth Ambassador back in April during Children’s Week by former Secretary Walters, and showed the board a video highlighting his experiences in Tallahassee. Since Children’s Week, Juwan has started a job at LEGOLAND and thanked Transition Coordinator Lawrence Hunt and JPO Shandrin Tollie for going the extra mile with his case. 



Circuit 13 JPO Lawanna Curry participated on a career panel for the Upward Bound Program through the University of South Florida on July 14. Upward Bound is one of eight TRIO programs funded by the US Department of Education and serves 165 high school students from low-income backgrounds from five area high schools. The goal is to increase the rate at which these students complete their college degrees. Lawanna spoke to the students about the work and responsibilities of a JPO and what each student needed to do to become a JPO. 


I would like to share a letter with you from Circuit 4 JPOS Joy Curtis regarding JPO Jeff Mullins going above and beyond to help a youth in his care move through a difficult transition. It reads:

JPO Jeff Mullins took almost an entire day out of his work schedule to go up to detention to pick up a youth that was released from the detention center but had no one to live with. Jeff was able to take him from DDC to the Homeless Shelter in Jacksonville to get a bed placement that afternoon and then proceeded to transport the youth to Daniel – Project Prepare for an interview. Jeff had been setting up all of the paperwork necessary to get this youth qualified for their services. After the youth’s interview with Project Prepare, Jeff took the youth back to the homeless shelter since he had nowhere else to go to wait until he was able to start at Project Prepare and have a place to stay through them. As JPO Supervisor of Jeff, I commend him for going over and above as a JPO to ensure that this youth was taken out of DDC, had a place to stay, and also enroll for services that he needed. Jeff is also Clay County DJJ’s DCF crossover JPO and this is a quite intensive specialty that he does well.








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