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Secretary's Message

January 5, 2015

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 


Probation Update

On December 22nd, Probation headquarters staff held “Elfing Day” where two families and a provider program were given a generous donation of toys, food and gift cards. 

As a part of “Elfing Day,” Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Liz Phillips and Administrative Assistant Lauren Floyd assisted the Bell/McLanahan family with providing a Merry Christmas for a less fortunate DJJ family in need of a little Christmas Spirit. The Bell/McLanahan family provided the family with a huge box of toys, clothes, shoes and Christmas decorations. Thank you Bell/McLanahan family for your generous gift giving spirits! 

Top row:  Tyler and Greg McLanahan, our DJJ family, and AAI Lauren Floyd

Bottom row:  Corey McLanahan, Gerome Ogeris, Isabelle Rojas.  Mother Lydia Bell not pictured.


Each year, Probation’s Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell holds a holiday party for headquarters staff and asks all who attend to provide a new toy or canned good. As a result, Statewide Risk Assessment Coordinator Amy Greenwald, Statewide Transition Coordinator Sanshell Bussey and Administrative Assistant Lauren Floyd boxed the collections and distributed them to a local family of seven whose caregiver was recently incarcerated. In addition, Probation staff also gave boxes of food to Capital City Youth Services to distribute to the youth they serve.










On December 19, Probation Staff from Circuit 11 including JPOSs Lana Wilcox and Michael Cooper, SJPO Rodney Harris, and Secretary Specialist Cheryl Minter teamed up with the Young Parents Project to ensure that one of our duel clients had furniture, home furnishings, and toys in time for the Christmas holiday. This collaboration ensured that this deserving family received a sofa, two chairs, and other items to make their holiday season more festive. 


Left to right:  Cheryl Minter, SS, Rodney Harris, Sr. JPO and Lana Wilcox, JPOS with 2 members of the family.


Circuit Court Judge Henry Davis from the 4th Judicial Circuit held his second annual Amnesty Day in Duval County for youth with outstanding custody orders. Judge Davis asked the local police department and DJJ to locate 97 youth with outstanding custody orders and encouraged them to attend the hearings. Amnesty Day is a special court date that provides an opportunity for youth to address the court in an effort to have outstanding warrants recalled, disposed of, or to receive a new hearing date.


Detention Update











JDO Tawny Mangiaracina and other staff members from the Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) helped the girls at the facility decorate stockings in anticipation of the Christmas holiday. The girls also created ornaments for the Christmas tree in the courtyard that awakened the Christmas spirit at the facility. The girls used glitter glue, fabric paint and felt cutouts to make their own designs. Each youth did a beautiful job of decorating the facility.


Youth from the Miami-Dade RJDC in conjunction with Art Springs performed a holiday concert for the Public Defender’s office and court personnel on December 18. The concert was so well received that Circuit Judge Orlando Prescott asked that the youth come back for an encore performance the next day. Detention staff from the facility and court security took extra security measures to ensure the safety of both the youth and adults during the performance.

Youth from the different mods practiced and sang together like a high school choir and were very proud of their accomplishments. The children sang a medley of songs including Jingle Bells, Feliz Navidad and Silent Night.  After the concert, the judges in attendance provided each singer with a delicious catered meal which was brought back to the detention center to enjoy. 


 







JDOs from the Okaloosa RJDC held a contest to see which mod at the facility could make the best holiday chimney. Each mod contributed in making a chimney which was judged by the officers and staff at Okaloosa. The winning chimney is shown above.


The youth from the Pinellas RJDC got into the Christmas spirit over the holidays. Youth from the facility painted canvases with a Christmas theme just in time for the youth’s Christmas party.  The kids from Pinellas received a Christmas cupcake, ice cream, and a Christmas card. Our youth spent the night singing Christmas carols including: Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells, and Silent Night. 




Prevention Update

Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services of Homestead, a DJJ Prevention provider, received a visit from members of the City Year Miami organization on December 11. City Year Miami is an education-focused nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to help keep students in school and on track to graduate. City Year AmeriCorps members commit to a year of full-time service in schools, where they work as tutors, mentors, and role models. Founded in Boston in 1988, City Year works in 25 cities across the United States and has international affiliates in London and Birmingham, England and Johannesburg, South Africa.



The Chance 2 Change (C2C), a Juvenile Services Program (JSP) that sponsors mentoring, tutorial, and truancy-prevention for teen girls of middle and high school ages, performed various community engagement projects during the month of December in Pinellas County. Among the activities that took place were a community dinner at the Frank Pierce Recreation Center. Food was provided by the City of St. Petersburg and the Center. Boys and girls from the community also played in the Teen Arts, Sports and Cultural Opportunities (TASCO) basketball games. 

In addition, the youth delivered approximately 100 Christmas cards to residents of the South Heritage Nursing home in St. Petersburg. TASCO, the City of St. Petersburg and Pierce Recreation Center provided assistance with all activities and food for the youth. The Pierce Recreation Center and City of St. Petersburg also provided computers for the youth to use during the activities.

This was an entire community effort with all entities collaborating for at-risk youth. Positive reinforcement within the program and extending into the community is a C2C hallmark. There was a positive response from all parties involved.

JSP was established in Pinellas County as a private non-profit tax exempt agency in October 1976. JSP's inception began in May of 1974 as the community's first pre-trial diversionary program for youthful offenders. JSP formerly offered IDDS (Diversion) programming, but is not currently engaged in that type of program. 

JSP is committed to quality and excellence. Their first responsibility is to the youth who utilize their services. Staff is dedicated to providing Pinellas families with education, training, counseling, intake screening, and gender specific programming for those in need. Those communities can expect to receive quality programming for their tax dollars. JSP places special value on dedication and perseverance… the results of which will be their common reward.


Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene and her son Victor delivered homemade cookies to the homeless residents of downtown Clearwater on December 23rd. This annual tradition is an effort to aid the homeless and educate her son about the importance of sharing with others.  Last year, they provided snacks to homeless youth.

Tina said that about 80 homeless people lined up for a hot meal in the park across from the Police Department. Later that day, the homeless men and women were able to select clothes that were donated to them by area churches. 

Victor and Tina stood at the end of the line to give each person a homemade Christmas cookie and wish them a Merry Christmas.  As soon as they saw Victor, they immediately smiled and became grateful that he took time to treat them.




Residential Update

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, made holiday cookies (see photos below) for veterans as part of their “Hanging with the Heroes” project.  The young men designed more than 200 cookies and delivered them a couple of days before Christmas to the Robert H. Jenkins, Jr. Veterans’ Domiciliary Home of Florida.  The residents were extremely appreciative and the youth were excited to do something worthwhile for those who have sacrificed so much for this country.

On Christmas Eve, everyone at the program—all 24 young men and 5 staff members—visited the Keystone United Methodist Church  for a special dinner and service.  As a result of volunteer work by some of their members, the church hosted Union JRF for this special outing.  The young men and staff members enjoyed plenty of food and every youth received gifts.  It was a very special evening for the boys.

Shown above are volunteers Kathy Moore and Myra Cox along with some of the youth at Union JRF as well as Administrator Mike Smith.  These two women in addition to the entire church congregation have had a tremendously positive impact on the holistic growth and development of the young men in the program.


Through a partnership with a Crestview area school, some of the boys from Okaloosa Youth Development Center (YDC)—a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center—were able to play basketball against a local school’s basketball team.  Five boys played against the Davidson Panthers boys’ basketball team and displayed exceptional sportsmanship and skill.  

Although they were not able to win all of the matchups, they played their hearts out and came out of the game looking like true winners.  A week later, the boys attended a Davidson Panthers game to cheer for their former opponents.  The residents are looking forward to more basketball games with community teams in the future.



Congratulations to DOVE Academy Program Director Kimberly “Kim” Hill who was selected as the 2014 Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. Director of the Year. The award was presented in Gainesville earlier in December, during the Corporate Management Team Meeting that is held there annually. 

Kim began her career as a correctional officer while attending school full time to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  Later, she accepted a children’s case management position in a community-based program, at which time she also began working on her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. 

Kim then became a case manager at a former state-operated program.  She left that program, switching gears to become a middle school guidance counselor.  Later, she returned to work at another state-operated program, during which time she became a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  She then served as the clinical director for a privately-operated girls’ juvenile justice program.  About five years ago, she was hired as the clinical director for the DOVE Intensive Mental Health Program where she later served as the program director.

Prior to her appointment as the DOVE Academy program director in March 2013, Kim served as the clinical director for the DOVE Academy.  In addition to being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Kim also is a Certified Addictions Professional.  Currently, she is working on completing a Ph.D. in Multi-Disciplinary Human Services, through the Capella University School of Public Leadership.

Kim demonstrates both passion and compassion in her role as DOVE Academy program director.  She is knowledgeable, creative and innovative, working tirelessly to provide cutting-edge services to the girls who are placed at the DOVE Academy—a non-secure program for females, ages 15 to 18.  As demonstrated by her accomplishments previously outlined, Kim values hard work and education. 

During 2014, with the help of her staff and the program’s advisory board, Kim secured a $10,000 grant to enhance the DOVE Academy’s Information Technology vocational program.  Additionally, the DOVE Academy staff have had no serious injuries during 2014, in large part, due to the restraint-free environment she cultivates in the program.  Congratulations, Kim Hill, on this well-deserved award!

In other news, the young ladies of DOVE Academy, a non-secure program for females, ages 15 to 18, participated in the 2014 Christmas Parade in Graceville this year.  The girls chose the theme “Winter Wonderland” for their float.  They made the decorations as part of their Boys and Girls Club regular activities.  Mrs. Cheryl kindly offered her trailer for use as the float.  Program staff members volunteered to work with the girls on the float and to take them to the parade.  Not only was the parade fun for the girls and the staff members, it also gave the community some insight on the DOVE Academy and how community members can provide a positive impact in lives of the DOVE residents and the girls in the community.

Another DOVE holiday activity undertaken by the residents was catering a luncheon for GoFoster.org.  GoFoster.org is an organization that recruits and offers support to foster parents and families.  This particular event was an informational luncheon for prospective foster and adoptive parents.  The young ladies from the DOVE Academy not only prepared the food, they were given the opportunity to gain an understanding of the positive impact that they can have in their communities. 

They served everyone—from the adults to the children—with respect and kindness.  There were several adults who commented on how well the girls worked and how they appreciated what they did.  Without the willingness, the help and the support of community organizations like GoFoster.org, DOVE Academy would not be able to provide these life-changing experiences to the residents.


Recently, Orange County Public Schools collaborated with Orange Youth Academy (OYA) and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA)—which are both programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.—to host a quarterly Parents’ Night.  During this event, the parents met the educational and facility staff members and learned about the services and programming provided.

More than two dozen parents attended Parents’ Night, asking questions and gathering information about the educational curricula and the award systems.  Parents’ Night proved to be an excellent meet-and-greet event for the parents, youth, educational staff, and program staff members.






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