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Secretary's Message

February 2, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter


Last week was a full and productive time for our agency and providers as we continued our work in serving Florida’s at risk youth and families.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

As always, 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.


Christina K. Daly

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group Meeting 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, DJJ staff from the Office of Prevention, Office of the Secretary – Human Trafficking, Office of Health Services, and the Bureau of Research and Planning attended the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) meeting in Tampa.  The SAG consists of a 15-33 member panel of persons, appointed by the Governor, who have training, experience or special knowledge of the juvenile justice system. 

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie gave the opening remarks to SAG members and discussed DJJ’s reform efforts and upcoming initiatives.  DJJ’s Human Trafficking Director Bethany Brimer and Deputy Director Tyson Elliott gave a presentation on human trafficking and Dr. Gayla Sumner, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Nursing Services Director Rosemary Haynes gave a presentation to SAG members on electronic medical records. 

Other presentations included G4S Youth Services – JJDP Act (by Bobbi Pohlman-Rodgers, JJDPA/PREA Compliance Director) and Suncoast Kids Place, Center for Grieving Children and Teens (by Deborah Brooks and Kimberly Pacheco, Associate Director). SAG members heard presentations from members of DJJ leadership and conducted a compliance monitoring site visit to the Clearwater Police Department. They also toured the Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center (West) and the Tampa Bay Academy of Hope, a DJJ Prevention provider.

Thank you to the DJJ staff, SAG members, and providers that participated in this very informative meeting!

DJJ’s Delinquency Profile Report

When we began our reform initiative with the implementation of the “Roadmap to System Excellence”  we outlined a strategic plan to allocate resources to the most effective programs, services, and treatments at the most impactful points along the juvenile justice continuum.  And, we made a commitment to transforming our state’s juvenile justice system to provide the right services to Florida’s youth while remaining focused on increasing public safety. 

The accomplishments of our agency and the hard work happening every day are evident in the newly released 2013-2014 Delinquency Profile Report which is now available on our website and can be accessed on our Bureau of Research’s delinquency data page or by clicking here: Interactive Delinquency Profile. You can also access a briefing report which summarizes this information here: Briefing Report-Delinquency Data.

A few statistics demonstrating that we are headed in the right direction include:

  • The number of juvenile arrests, including violations of probation, dropped another 8 percent in 2013-2014, resulting in a five year decline of 36 percent in juvenile delinquency;
  • The report marks the lowest juvenile arrest level in over 30 years and shows a decline in overall delinquency throughout most of Florida;
  • Felony offenses have declined by 3 percent, there is a decrease in misdemeanor offenses by 11 percent, and a decline of “other” offenses, including violations of probation, by 10 percent; and
  • The number of school-based arrests are also down by 14 percent.

I hope you take the time to review this report. As we move forward, I know DJJ and its stakeholders will continue to improve upon the work we have already done. 

Last week,  Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Tim Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham attended a Crossover Youth kickoff meeting in Orlando. This meeting was organized by the Florida Coalition for Children, who advocate on behalf of Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected and at-risk children and support the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf, along with the Department of Children & Families. This workgroup was initiated in order to identify ways in which services for crossover youth (children that are involved in both the dependency and delinquency systems) can be improved and how agencies that are tasked with providing these services can work in a more collaborative manner.  

Prevention Update

On January 3rd, The Florida Institute for Community Studies (FICS) in conjunction with their Prodigy program held a Three Kings Celebration for its community members.  Many donations were brought from all over the Tampa Bay area and over 400 youth received toys. Prodigy art was displayed at the event where the youth and their families were invited to attend. FICS as well as Prodigy and other community volunteers brought the community together for a memorable event for all.

On January 23rd, Rick Beasley, CareerSource South Florida Executive Director and DJJ Circuit 11 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board member, was elected president of the United States Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council (WDC) in Washington D.C.  Rick will lead the WDC for the next year and will continue the council’s efforts to provide a forum for mayors and their employment and training administrators to examine all workforce development issues and to strengthen the ability of cities to meet the needs of their citizens; particularly economically disadvantaged individuals, those with serious skill deficiencies, dislocated workers, returning veterans, and others with special barriers to employment, including youth.  Congratulations to Rick on his election to this very important position!

Recently, the Circuit 2 Faith Network gathered for their monthly meeting at the Leon County Detention Center.  These faith partners meet to discuss and develop items including upcoming events, opportunities to engage with youth and families, information sharing, and participation with the faith network.

On January 19, mentors and mentees with the Family Worship & Praise Center visited the Center For Civil And Human Rights and conducted college tours in Atlanta.  The Family Worship & Praise Center, which is a part of our DJJ Faith Network, took this trip to educate and enlighten mentees of the sacrifices people made for them to have better lives;  to gain a better understanding of past and present issues in the world; become more familiar with Martin Luther King Jr. and his work; and overall, spend quality time with the mentees.  

The Honorable Rodney Smith from the 11th Judicial Circuit recently spoke to youth at the JPM Centre in Miami Gardens.  Judge Smith spoke to the youth in the Civil Citation Nehemiah "Kids off The Street" (KOTS) program, Neighborhood Accountability Board. Judge Smith’s discussion centered on their topic for the month, "Triggers to Violence: Drugs, Alcohol and Guns." Judge Smith inspired the youth as he spoke about his path to becoming an attorney and criminal judge. He emphasized the importance of the youth working hard in school to change their lives. He also discussed the importance of making the right choices which lead to a successful future. Thanks to Judge Smith for taking the time from his busy schedule and giving back by touching the lives of youth in Miami Gardens.

Residential Update

Through the High School/High Tech Program (HS/HT) provided by Goodwill Industries at the Okaloosa Youth Development Center (OYDC), a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, two young men recently completed the Forklift Certification Course.  The course required that each youth pass a written test and demonstrate the skills to operate a forklift.  Both boys passed the test and received the Forklift Operation Certificate.  The program will now assist them in exploring job opportunities in their home communities.  Additionally, the OYDC program staff took the boys out to celebrate their accomplishments where they enjoyed a luncheon with Program Director Derek Peoples, the transition coordinator, and the treatment coordinator. 

On Jan. 17, the residents of the Orange Youth Academy (OYA) and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA), which are both non-secure programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, were partners with the Omega Psi Phi fraternity in the event tent for the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in the historic Eatonville community (Orange County).  The students learned about the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the importance of commemorating his legacy, and the history of the Eatonville community—The Town that Freedom Built—as one of the first all-black towns in the United States (incorporated in 1887).  

The Frances Walker Halfway House (FWHH), a non-secure program for females, ages 13 to 18, operated by Aspire Health Partners, Inc., is a partner of the Brevard County Habitat for Humanity and Women Build.

Through FWHH Community Advisory Board Member Teresa Kline, Women Build was adopted as a project for the residents.  Those affiliated with Women Build, as with all Habitat workers, are volunteers. They raise the funds to build the homes and they do all the work themselves along with help from the family who will move into the house once it is finished.  On Jan. 16, four of the FWHH girls assisted the Women Build volunteers to learn about building walls: nailing, measuring, and (for the 18-year-old) cutting lumber with the saw—under close supervision of course.  The girls were very enthusiastic and expressed their enthusiasm to work hard for this family who will assume ownership when the home is finished.  

Prior to the building project, Ms. Kline spoke to everyone at FWHH, educating the girls and the staff about Habitat for Humanity and Women Build to explain how a family qualifies for a Habitat house.  Additionally, the FWHH educators provided lessons in measuring and construction details.

Photos shown left to right:  The sign in front of the home being built; the Women Build team with the FWHH girls and staff assessing the work to be done; FWHH girls nailing the beams to the wall; and the group photo of the FWHH team:  third from the right Ashley Drake and second from the right Board Member Teresa Kline.

Probation Update

On January 21st, Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren successfully completed her first Life Skills Class in La Belle, FL. This was the first Life Skills Training (LST) in Circuit 20. She had a total of 7 graduates from the class including the following awards for:

  • Most improved person ( there was a tie)
  • Most group spirit
  • Most dynamic
  • Perfect attendance ( there was a three way tie)
  • Most inspirational

Ms. Feren is conducting another cycle of LST class in Clewiston area that began on Thursday, January 22nd that will end on April 30, 2015. 

Circuit 20 Probation staff hosted an array of Community Re-Entry Team meetings last week.  On Monday, Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq facilitated Hendry and Glades Counties first Community Re-Entry Team Meeting. Those in attendance were representatives from Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, Glades County School Board, Hendry County School Board, La Belle Youth Academy Principal, Eckerd Project Bridge and JPO Shana Feren. They discussed the importance of transitional services for those youth who are transitioning back to the community upon completion of their residential services as well as enhancing their collaborative communication. The Community Re-Entry Team Meeting in Hendry and Glades will occur every two months.

On Tuesday, JPO Supervisor Tracie Foss facilitated their second Community Re-Entry Team Meeting for Collier County. Those in attendance were representatives from Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Collier County School Board, David Lawrence Center, Destination Graduation, Eckerd Project Bridge, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq and JPO Tara Heinle. They discussed the continuum of these meetings in their area as well as how to improve their collaboration to assist youth who are transitioning back to the community. They also reviewed several youth on their list. The Community Re-Entry Team Meeting will occur in Collier County every last Tuesday of each month.

Also on Tuesday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq facilitated the ongoing Community Re-Entry Team Meeting in Lee County. Those in attendance were representatives from Eckerd Project Bridge, JPO Supervisor Jon Vertrees, Senior JPO Toni Lesher, JPOs Vanessa Mcnair and Maria Del Pilar Mendoza.  They discussed those youth who are currently involved with Eckerd Project Bridge as well as those who are getting out of residential programs.

Circuit 17 Probation Officer Cassandra Evans presented at the January Broward County Schools Social Worker Workshop. The pillars of the Roadmap and JJSIP were shared in the context of the school/delinquency systems apex. The questions posed and solutions offered created an atmosphere of true collaboration and cohesiveness. It was clear that all parties were working towards turning around the lives of troubled youth.  

At the request of the principal, the Circuit 17 Broward County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives Monitors Rilwan Adigun and Derrek Wellington spoke to a group of at-risk youth at William Dandy Middle School. They shared their professional knowledge and experiences to highlight the drawbacks of engaging in at-risk and delinquent acts. They also stressed 2 key tools for success: a solid education and sound decision making.

Last week, Circuit 20 Chief Probation Officer Peg LaMarca received a commendation letter from a parent recognizing JPO Tia Williams for her hard work, dedication and assistance. An excerpt from the letter reads:

And truly, I do thank you for the position you hold...I could really see him in a position like you do, you really did strike a chord with him....thank you very much.

Detention Update 

Congratulations to the juvenile detention officers (JDOs) who graduated on January 30 in ceremonies at DJJ headquarters, in Tallahassee, and Hillsborough Community College, in Tampa. JDOs supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. Thanks to Sheddrick Brooks, chief of Detention Services for the North Region, for delivering the graduation address to the Florida Public Safety Institute class at DJJ headquarters. Kudos to SD&T learning consultants Duane Pace and Kiva Hagans for leading the officers through the certification process for these positions of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed 240 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the facility listed next to his or her name.

Row 1 (left to right):  Kelly McGriff -Leon RJDC, Joyce Vann - Escambia RJDC, Kenston Robinson-Smith -Bay RJDC, Edward Person - Volusia RJDC, Steven Main -Leon RJDC, Diamond King -Duval RJDC, Carolyn Allen -Leon RJDC

Row 2 (l-r):  Corray Boughton -Escambia RJDC, Don Keller -Escambia RJDC, Jamie Gonzalez -Southwest RJDC, Lori Clark -Bay RJDC, Ryann Ellingsworth - Bay RJDC, Stephanie Burr - Southwest RJDC, Edward Bolender - Alachua RJDC, Benjamin Williams - Leon RJDC

Row 3 (l-r):  Jamarcus Godwin –Leon RJDC, Phillip Robinson –Bay RJDC, Carmon Woodley –Okaloosa RJDC, Robriest Tyler –Southwest RJDC, Matthew Moreau –Escambia RJDC, Brian Mourton –Bay RJDC, Brad Masternick-Southwest RJDC, Ferris Bates – Alachua RJDC, Jonathan Gelatt –Alachua RJDC, Marian Boatwright –Escambia RJDC

Front row (left-right):  Miriam Humphrey-Pinellas RJDC,  LaKesha Munn-Pinellas RJDC,  Jasmine Parson-Hillsborough RJDC

Middle row (l-r):  John Johnson-Manatee RJDC, Christopher Bottenfield-Manatee RJDC, Matthew Cooper-Manatee RJDC

Back row (l-r):  Jeffery Jamison-Pinellas RJDC, Daniel Vega-Manatee RJDC, Robert Barnes-Manatee RJDC, Austin Archibald-Pinellas RJDC

Not pictured, Daniel Rivera- Hillsborough RJDC

Happy belated Birthday to Justice, DJJ’s resident pet therapy dog at the Miami Regional Juvenile Detention Center.  Justice just turned 3 years old!

Staff Development & Training Update 

February is Innovation Month at SD&T!

Each week in February, SD&T will announce one or more new products and/or initiatives related to professional learning or staff development! Stay tuned and up-to-date via the SD&T home page, and SD&T News!

Provider Background Screening Fee Change

Effective February 1, 2015, the contract provider fee for Livescan and Rescreening will be as follows:

  • Livescan $24.57 per applicant
  • 5-Year Rescreen $15.93  per applicant

To prevent screening delays, be sure to include the correct payment amount with all screenings submitted on or after February 1, 2015.

If you have questions about the fee changes, contact the Background Screening Unit via e-mail at Generalbsu@djj.state.fl.us or by telephone at (850) 921-6345.