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Secretary's Message

December 29, 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 and I am proud 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,

Christina K. Daly


Office of Health Services Update

Dr. Gayla Sumner from the Office of Health Services also attended the 9th Annual Models for Change National Working Conference, presented by the MacArthur Foundation, in Washington, D.C. December 15-16. Dr. Sumner’s appearance was a part of the OJJDP SAMHSA Partnership Site Delegation. As you know, the conference provided training workshops on Models for Change initiatives and Dr. Sumner was featured on a panel concerning the NCMHJJ Mental Health Training Curriculum for Juvenile Justice (MHTC-JJ) initiative.

 


Education Update

Our agency is proud to announce that AMIkids Big Cypress facility has been awarded a grant from the United States Department of Labor to develop vocational training and job placement programs. This program works to ensure that our students have at least one industry recognized certification when they leave AMIkids to assist them in gaining employment.

The Vocational Training and Job Placement initiative will initially focus on four key industries, healthcare, information technology, construction and skilled crafts, and food service, with 100% of the government funding going towards this initiative. Students at these AMIkids programs will have the opportunity to select their desired path that best fits their skills and interests.


Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis performed community outreach for the Families First Network of Pensacola on December 17. Lydia assisted Families First Network staff to buy holiday items for approximately 120 youth in the Circuit 1 Child Welfare System. Families First Network is the community-based care outlet for Circuit 1, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. Thanks to private donations children who are in the foster care system in Circuit 1 will receive presents requested on their wish list.

In the attached photo, from left to right: Danetta McCreary, Families First Network; Lydia Breaux-Davis, DJJ; Annette Cormier and Terri Marshall, both of Families First Network, pose with bags of holiday gifts purchased for deserving youth.  


Living Stones International, operated by Pastor Gary Montgomery and his wife Josephine, held a community appreciation lunch for their board of directors which included DJJ team members on December 18 at the Blue Collar Restaurant in Tallahassee. The purpose of the lunch was to offer thanks to the Living Stones’ board of directors and community partners.  Living Stones is a children and family outreach organization hosting quarterly special bonding visits between children and their incarcerated parents. Living Stones also offers an after school tutoring program and mentoring.

In the attached photo, (from left to right): Craig Swain, DJJ Faith Coordinator; Onazina Washington, Delinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, & 8; Gary Montgomery, Pastor Living Stones; Samuel Carter, President of Board; JC Gamboa-Montgomery, Executive Director (standing in rear); Patricia Bowen, Board Member; Patrick Bowen, Community Representative; Attorney Mutaqee Akbar, Board Member (standing in rear); Elizabeth Phillips, Board Member and Circuit 2 Reform Specialist; and Mark Stanovich, Accountability Board.


Youth from Prodigy Girls, Inc., a DJJ Prevention Provider, put on a dance performance for the Golden Key Club New Member Recognition event on November 15 at Polk State College in Lakeland. Additionally, Kay Fields, Executive Director of Girls Inc., was a keynote speaker at the event and received recognition that evening as an honorary member. Members of The Golden Key Club were thrilled about the performance and enjoyed seeing the wonderful impact Girls, Inc. Prodigy has on the youth in their community. Way to go!



Probation Update

Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren worked with the Community Faith Fellowship of Hendry and Glades Counties to provide gifts and non-perishable food items for seven needy families in the area. One of the families even received a new bike for their children. Shana delivered all of these items to the families on December 22, in the hopes they will now have a very Merry Christmas.




A former probationary youth named Jonathan who was under the care of JPO Charles Bernhard in Circuit 18 decided to give back to his community this holiday season. Jonathan, who was terminated from DJJ last year, brought Charles a holiday basket full of goodies designed to give to a needy family. During his visit Jonathan said that he is on his way to college next year and will be majoring in pre-med. I would like to thank Charles for helping guide this youth in making a difference in his local community and a big congratulations to Jonathan who has done the hard work to turn his life around for the better.


Circuit 20 probation staff in Naples participated in a holiday food drive and recently delivered the items to the Salvation Army of Naples. The organization praised our employees on their Facebook page which you can see here.













Detention Update

I am pleased to announce that Irma Terry has been promoted to the position of Superintendent of the Marion Detention facility which was effective December 18. Irma had been serving as the Assistant Superintendent at the facility for the Volusia RJDC. Irma began her tenure with DJJ 26 years ago. She was originally hired as an OPS employee, and has worn almost every hat the agency has given her to wear. She was most recently named Assistant Superintendent of the Year, and brings a bevy of knowledge to her new role. Please join me in congratulating Irma on her well-deserved promotion. 







Residential Update

The young ladies of the Alachua Academy, a non-secure program for females, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by the North American Family Institute, are shown below preparing a Thanksgiving basket from food donated by the program’s staff.  Members of the staff and three youth delivered the basket to a local family.

To initiate the project, the youth placed a basket in the facility lobby along with a poster that requested food items.  Staff, family members and visitors donated generously to the cause throughout the November.  The Alachua County School Resource Officer gave the facility the name and address of a needy family.  The following is what youth K. had to say about her experience:

My experience delivering the basket for the family made me feel good.  I have been in their position before and I know what it is like not knowing where you are going to get your next meal from.  It made me feel good to give back to the community.  I could tell she needed it and she appreciated it.  It inspired me to want to help other people in need and give back to the community.  I am happy they will have a nice Thanksgiving Dinner.  

The residents and staff participate in many holiday activities throughout the year to help those in the Gainesville community.


Recently, the residents of the Charles Britt Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., went into the community to help clean up the neighborhood.  The program partnered with a local community group, Moving Forward with a Purpose Inc., to clean up the lawns and gardens of five senior citizen families.  When Moving Forward with a Purpose President Eddie Pelhem contacted the program and asked for assistance with the project, the young men were overjoyed at the opportunity to go out and use their newly acquired tools and horticultural practices.  




















The youth assisted in removing debris, raking yards, and reorganizing landscapes.  When all the dust finally settled, a local community was beautified, the program gained a new community partner, and the residents learned the true meaning of service. 

Since completing the project, the program has received multiple compliments on the helpfulness, respectful behavior and work ethic of the boys who worked on the project. 


Last month, the Youth Environmental Services (YES) program in Wimauma was named as one of five “2014 Educator of the Day” grant recipients awarded by The Richard W. Riley College of Education and leadership at Walden University.  A non-secure program for males, ages 15 to 18, YES is operated by the not-for-profit residential services provider AMIkids, Inc.  Each of the five pre-K through 12 schools and educational facilities received a $5,000 grant and will host aspiring educators and community guests.  The funds will be used to enhance classroom education, provide educational technology or supplies, and sponsor special initiatives.  YES will use the funds to create an educational garden so students can gain experience in agriculture along with their multidisciplinary studies.  On Nov. 20, guest educators toured the campus and then rotated among different classrooms to work with the program’s students throughout the day.

Since the program began in 2007, thousands of educators and students have benefited from Walden’s Educator for a Day grants to help improve teaching and learning in their schools and organizations.  The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University, accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), is the choice of more than 56,000 students and alumni who are leaders in their classrooms and schools, including more than 100 state teachers of the year.  The college is dedicated to improving educator effectiveness and preparing educators to make a positive impact on student achievement.

Congratulations to the faculty and staff of YES on being selected for this prestigious grant award.


 

The youth at Union Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 19, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, worked as a team to create and donate to a homeless shelter that operates in Jacksonville 15 “Shoeboxes of Love” filled with hygiene products.  Each shoebox was wrapped in a blanket.

The young men presented the shoeboxes the day after Thanksgiving.  By choosing to sacrifice their own buyer’s day hygiene products and donate them to the homeless, the residents filled the shoeboxes.  The program then purchased the blankets and the boys wrapped up each box, which was filled with soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, lotion, lip balm, sunscreen, wet wipes, socks, bandages, comb, brush, nail clippers, journal, pens, and several other personal items.

In addition, Union JRF recently held the last of three Family Days for the year.  It was very successful with 10 families attending, as well as Circuit 7 JPO Deanna Meyers who came to spend time with two of the young men who are assigned to her caseload. 

She not only spent time with the two youth but she also interacted with other young men and their families.  This is what true partnerships and care for our youth is all about. 

Everyone participated in the events and enjoyed time with their children.  Six Wal-Mart gift cards ($25 each) were raffled off.  The group enjoyed all the hamburgers and hotdogs they could eat, interactive games, and snacks.  The day ended with a youth performance of some of the music they have written about their lives.




In mid-December, Union JRF celebrated a graduation for two of young men.  One earned his GED® and the other earned his high school diploma.  Their parents were able to attend and were very proud of the youth.  In addition, they both will receive their high school rings.


David Lester, a former resident of Dade Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, continues to receive accolades.  This year he was the recipient of the FJJA Leadership Award at the annual conference.  Now, he is now being considered for admission into Colorado State University where he hopes to enroll in the pre-med program.  David has made it through the initial part of the application process and the university is currently reviewing reference letters submitted on his behalf including one from Dade JRF Facility Administrator Manny Alvarez.  That letter details all of David’s accomplishments and highlights the lifestyle changes he made as a result of having been a resident at Dade JRF.


Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (OJOCC), another G4S-operated residential program that is for maximum-risk males, ages 13 to 21, recently introduced the Florida Ready to Work credentialing program that tests and scores job skills and work habits.  It gives jobseekers a competitive edge—a credential that proves to employers that the youth has the right skills and the right attitude for the job.  For employers, it takes the guesswork out of hiring, saving time and money. 

Florida Ready to Work is sponsored by the State of Florida, which means there is no cost for employers or jobseekers to participate in the program.  Florida Ready to Work connects employers with employees who have the skills needed to get the job done—reducing employer hiring, training and turnover costs.  The program helps jobseekers prepare for the jobs they want and provides a credential, signed by the Governor, showing employers that the certificate holder is ready for work.  Florida Ready to Work helps educators and workforce development partners prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs.

Three students from OJOCC earned Bronze, Silver and Gold Certifications respectively.  This brings the program’s total number of certificates for students who are currently in the facility to 23 Bronze Certificates, 25 Silver Certificates, and 6 Gold Certificates.


PREA Update

Congratulations to the Escambia Boys Base, Okaloosa Youth Academy, Okaloosa Youth Development Center, and Walton Youth Development Center for passing their PREA Audits!  The Audit Reports for each program can be found on the Department’s Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Web page by clicking here.  


SkillPro Online Training

Annual SkillPro online training must be completed by December 31. You can get to SkillPro by clicking the logo on your DJJ computer desktop. Required online courses are linked on your My Learning page. For clarification on training requirements, please review staff training policy FDJJ – 1520. If you have any questions, you may submit them using the Get Help! button in SkillPro. Be sure to include your name, email address and telephone number.

FORGOT LOGIN/FIRST-TIME USER You can get your User ID by clicking I forgot my User ID on the login screen. Click I forgot my Password to get a temporary password. First-time users must set up their security questions when setting a password, or their account will become locked. If your account is locked, please see your training coordinator for assistance.

COURSE TEST REMINDER: When taking a course posttest, you must select the “Record Score and Exit Course” button for your score to be recorded and reported as “complete.” SkillPro will not record your test score if you do not click the "Record Score and Exit Course” button at the bottom of the test results screen. If you exit by clicking on one of your browser buttons (“X” button at top right of screen or back arrow at the top left), there will not be a record of your score. If no is scored recorded, you must re-take the posttest.

More information about SkillPro is available on the SD&T home page.




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