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Secretary's Message

February 10, 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

Employee of the Month

I am pleased to honor Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor Victoria Marrone as DJJ’s Employee of the Month.  JDOS Marrone received multiple nominations from her colleagues at the Pasco County Juvenile Detention Center.  She serves not only as a role model to her fellow officers but is a positive influence to all staff and youth at the detention center.  She understands the importance of being a team player, demonstrating professionalism, and being a good communicator.  We would like to thank JDOS Marrone for her hard work and dedication in her job duties and also, as was stated by a fellow colleague when nominating her: “Sgt. Marrone, if you ever get to read this… Thank you, simply for being you.” 

Please join me in congratulating JDOS Victoria Marrone on this tremendous honor! 

We look forward to highlighting our next Employee of the Month in the near future. Our agency 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

Legislative Update

This week was a busy one for Team DJJ down at the Capitol. On Wednesday, I presented Governor Scott’s “Keep Florida Working” Budget recommendations for our agency in the House Justice Appropriations subcommittee. The agency was also scheduled to present the budget recommendations in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, but due to the number of questions about other agencies, time ran short and Chair Negron requested that we appear at the following committee meeting in order to allow the committee to give DJJ the time and focus needed for such a critical area of their budget. In addition, this week I met with the chairs and other members of both appropriations subcommittees to provide valuable information regarding DJJ’s budget needs. 

Prevention Update

Back in November, youth from the Harmony Development Center, a DJJ prevention provider, worked with their parents on a parent and youth engagement event in Broward County. Harmony strives to incorporate activities where parents and youth can spend time together.  By encouraging parents to take part in their children’s activities, Harmony Development Center, a DJJ Prevention provider, is hoping to develop in parents their ability to raise confident and responsible children.

The Harmony Development Center also works together with youth and seniors alike with the goal of breaking the generation gap.  During the month of December, these youth and seniors worked together as a team on a portrait and art presentation. They integrated, organized, and selected the pictures that were in the exposition. The young and the elderly developed an empathy for one another while also learning to respect and appreciate each other.  Harmony believes that by bringing together generations, it helps to improve the quality of life of these generations. 

The Harmony Development Center also put on a talent presentation in the month of December.  Harmony feels that it is important to encourage children to do presentations that require discipline and movement. By encouraging children to be part of talent presentations, Harmony Development Center is contributing to healthy lifestyles and increased knowledge about exercise and nutrition. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene was a featured speaker at an event in Tampa on January 31 entitled, “God Sees in You What You Can’t See in Yourself.” Using the topic, ‘Transforming Trauma into Purpose,’ Tina delivered a motivational message of encouragement and hope to the 50 youth and adults in attendance. The purpose of the workshop was to promote positive thoughts and ideals to attendees. Tina spoke on having a plan for the future and also working with others to reach their fullest potential. 

Pictured right: Tina Levene delivers a motivational message titled “Transforming trauma into purpose” during the event, ‘God sees in you what you can’t see in yourself.’

North Carolina Outward Bound School, a DJJ prevention provider, welcomed eleven new members to their field team staff during a training session on the Ocklawaha River and Intracoastal Waterway last month. The twelve day training focused on the technical and interpersonal skills needed to work with the prevention program’s participants in a wilderness setting.  These staff will be working as interns and assistant instructors with Outward Bound’s FINS programs this spring.  NCOBS has been offering challenging outdoor programs in the southeast for nearly 50 years. Their unique approach of ‘learning by doing’ taught by skilled educators has long made them the leader in outdoor education. NCOBS emphasizes character development, academic achievement and social responsibility to reduce the risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse and future delinquency.

The Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys hosted a Day of Dialogue on February 4 at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. DJJ’s Faith Coordinator Craig Swain represents our agency on the council which held this event to help identify the necessary research, best practices, additional resources, and innovative policy changes needed to achieve educational access, opportunity, and outcome parity for black males at all levels of public education throughout Florida.

The Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys is administratively housed within the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Created by the Florida Legislature in 2006, the Council is charged with studying the conditions affecting black men and boys, including: homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, drug abuse, death rates, disparate annual income levels, health issues and school performance.

Detention Update

Last week, nationally recognized advocate for trauma survivors and CEO of Healing Neen, Tonier Cain, provided technical assistance and training on Trauma Informed Care to staff at all seven of our detention centers in the South Region. Ms. Cain toured each facility providing feedback and participated in strategy sessions addressing how to better serve the youth in our centers.  Ms. Cain also delivered training at two community forums in Broward and Monroe Counties with audience members consisting of staff from other program areas, private providers, community partners and stakeholders.  

Approximately 500 individuals were trained on the devastating effects of trauma and the potential impact we have in our role as “life changers.”

Mi Anatolia is a creative concept company with a mission to inspire students at all levels to look in the mirror and discover themselves in an “Anatolia Moment,” through the power of love, hope, and purpose. Last week, youth at the Orange RJDC were presented the opportunity to meet the founder of Mi Anatolia, Mr. Chelo Fansua, who taught the youth about his organization and how it can help them during difficult times. Even after making tough mistakes in life, their concepts and workshops inspire students to visualize the power of HOPE, which will help them discover a universe of potential that is deep within their hearts.

Over the past few months the staff and providers at Bay Detention have noticed a marked increase in the number of youth coming into the facility with little or no clothing to call their own.  Whether living in transient type situations,  being in homes where the paramount struggle was putting food on the table, or having environments where as soon as they were in detention their belongings were taken by others, there are increasing numbers of youth we serve that do not have adequate clothing.  After utilizing available resources and repeatedly going to their own pocketbooks and wallets, staff created an on-going clothes closet to meet the growing need. 

Our Bay District School Board partners (Educational Liaison Anne Martin and Transition Clerk Vickie Brown) shouldered the majority of the load by cleaning out their own closets and collected donations from detention staff as well as Circuit 14 probation staff.  Bay District Schools Transition Clerk Vickie Brown is pictured here with some of the boxes she worked so hard to organize.   We are so proud of our dedicated staff who work close enough with our youth to understand what their needs are, but then also go above and beyond to meet those needs!  

Probation Update

Staff from the Paxen Community Connections in Brevard County accompanied youth from the facility on a tour of the career and technical programs at Eastern Florida State College in Cocoa on January 28. These youth received a behind the scenes look at several programs including welding, automotive, HVAC, and cosmetology where they were allowed to explore the equipment, ask questions and get a better understanding of each program. Paxen youth were also given information about the various vocational programs, certifications and career options that EFSC has to offer, which you can see by clicking here.

As part of Paxen's employability curriculum, youth are assisted in exploring different career options. By participating in college tours, it takes the mystery away from college and allows youth to actually see themselves attending. The youth are eager to tour EFSC's culinary program for their next trip.

DJJ Probation staff from Circuit 16 accompanied youth in their care on a beach clean-up project on the local upper keys beaches in Monroe County on January 20. This event was organized by the Monroe County Coalition and the History of Driving Museum who both thanked our agency for being a part of the clean-up. Our youth, along with 35 other young men and women spent the day collecting 754 pounds of garbage and were awarded valuable community service hours for their efforts.

Probation Staff from Circuit 17 and members of our Executive Leadership Team recently attended the PACE Center for Girls of Broward County’s Empowerment Luncheon. Staff members were inspired by the girls’ stories of tenacity and resiliency. PACE’s foundation is a gender-responsive culture that provides a safe environment as it celebrates our young ladies.

Pictured: L-R: Bethany Brimer (DJJ Human Trafficking Director), Regina Gonzalez (SJPO), Wanda Finnie (Asst. Secretary). Aggie Pappas (Executive Director), Cassandra Evans (CPO), Marie Boswell (not pictured)

Probation staff members from Circuit 19 manned an information booth at the Eighth Annual Okeechobee Health and Safety Expo on January 31. The expo featured over 150 information booths, and many of them were highlighting community businesses. The agency’s table featured some of the changes made to the Roadmap for System Excellence and Civil Citation as well as fliers aimed at educating parents on how to keep their children out of gangs. The Health and Safety Expo had over 1800 citizens from the local community in attendance. 

Five of our youth from the Miami-Dade North AMIkids facility volunteered for a community service project for the Miami Rivers of Life agricultural community in Circuit 11. These youth had the opportunity to clean and add mulch to existing garden bed around the house, build a garden bed, added dirt and planted vegetables and planted five fruit trees. The feedback from these youth was very positive and they enjoyed working together while earning valuable community service hours in the process. Miami’s River of Life provides Respite and Independent Living Services to youth served by DJJ and those living in the community.

JDAI Coordinators, Vicki Burke, Gina Gibbs, James Millan, Kathy Demosthenes, Andrea Webster, and Colleene Scott along with Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell and Assistant Secretary Tim Niermann received training and technical assistance on the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) from Florida Technical Advisor Lisa Macaluso with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The training was held in Pinellas County February 4-5 and focused on a wide variety of topics including: JDAI Core Strategies, Theory and Application, Utilization of Data, Coordination, Roles, and Messaging JDAI.

I am pleased to share this letter of commendation that was sent to JPO Christopher Pursino from Circuit 12. The letter was sent by case manager Danuta Richey from the Fort Myers Youth Academy. It reads:

Good Morning,

My name is Danuta and I am a Case Manager at Fort Myers Youth Academy and I have been working on a case with Mr. Pursino for some time and I must say, Mr. Pursino is one of the very best JPO's I have had the pleasure of working with and wanted to let you know that the Department of Juvenile Justice is fortunate to have someone like him as he is caring, diligent and very helpful.  Mr. Pursino is on top of his game. 

Residential Update

Last week, DJJ-HQ Office of Residential Services Programs & Policy Unit team members Pat Wilson and Candace “Candy” Seifert began the implementation of the “Statewide Girls Survey” protocols.  In November, with the help of the providers, the Gender Responsive Program Assessment Tool was finalized.  The assessment process was conducted last week in two girls programs.

The primary purpose of the Gender Responsive Program Assessment Tool is to identify the program’s strengths and opportunities for improvement in providing gender-responsive treatment.  It is anticipated that all of the residential programs for females will be assessed, using the Gender Responsive Program Assessment Tool, by the end of May.

A team consisting of program staff, HQ staff, regional staff, and shared services staff does the two-day assessment.  Upon arrival at the program, there is a brief introduction and discussion of the primary purpose of the tool.  An agenda outlines the course of the two-day site visit.  In addition, there is a program description that includes the program’s mission statement, vision and goals, an outline of the program’s gender specific programming, curricula, services, and the treatment/interventions provided.  This description includes an overview of the intake process, a day in the life of a youth in the program, programmatic challenges/opportunities for improvement, description of program environment/culture and program services that foster healthy relationships, as well as a description of trauma responsive efforts currently in process, in planning, or which are an ingrained part of the program.

Last week, the initial assessment s was conducted at Alachua Girls Academy and DOVE Academy.  In addition to Pat Wilson and Candy Seifert, the assessment team members included Jennifer Schad (Shared Services),  Katina Horner (NE Residential Region), Debbie Yates (NAFI), Vickie Donaldson (Alachua Program Director) and Rebeca Kovar (Alachua Academy Clinical Director), Kim Hill (DOVE Program Director), Leticia Baker (DOVE Clinical Director), Amy Barnes (DOVE Education Director), and Jeff McSpaddin (Twin Oaks).  Many thanks go to the programs and the staff members who assisted with each team. For more information, click here.

Last week, Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker taught an “Impact of Crime Class” in Alachua County at the Circuit 8 Probation & Community Intervention Office.  Participants in the class learned to work with youth in implementing the seven chapters of this promising practice in their facilities.  The seven chapters assist youth in changing behavior and taking responsibility for their actions.  The class participants learned concepts such as making amends, personal accountability, restitution, restorative justice, and victim impact.  This class also included train-the-trainer coursework for two members of the Programming and Technical Assistance staff—Jeff Powell and Jessica Gibson—who did an excellent job in assisting in the delivery of the curriculum.

Over the holidays, the young men of Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 15, and the young women of Frances Walker Halfway House (FWHH), a non-secure program for females, ages 13 to 18, which are operated by Aspire Health Partners, Inc., were treated to a trip to SeaWorld. 

Initially, the trip was planned separately as a positive incentive for the youth who were exhibiting outstanding behavior.  Once management learned that both programs had the same plans, it was decided that this would be an incredible opportunity for the young men and women to learn how to interact appropriately while having fun just being kids.  They enjoyed every ride, every laugh, every photo, and—with a $30 all-you-can-eat wrist band—every meal!  For the staff members who supervised the youth, it was refreshing to them enjoying being kids.  

Of the 15 young men and women on the field trip, only one had previously visited a theme park before.  This trip provided a positive social skills experience for the youth while rewarding their positive behaviors in the programs.  Special thanks go to FWHH Program Manager Lydia Fulton and BGTH Program Specialist Rashawnda Anderson for organizing this incredible activity.  Hopefully, these young men and women were inspired to see that they can have a really good time engaging in positive activities versus committing crimes.

Shown right are the youth and staff from FWHH and BGTH who posed for the camera as BGTH Program Director Joseph Nixon and Brevard County School Teacher Joyelle Richards snapped one of many incredible photos.

Last month, the youth at Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for males, ages 10 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted the Tampa Christian Supply volunteers in their efforts to help the community.  Opened 50 years ago and staffed primarily by volunteers, the Tampa Christian Supply provides the surrounding community with furniture, household items, and clothing.  The thrift store is a non-profit organization that donates all of its proceeds to helping the homeless and underprivileged.

The young men helped organize the store’s inventory, vacuum, dust, and clean throughout the store.  The store manager stated that the youth were some of the best help and volunteers he’s ever had.  This volunteer experience is another essential part of each youth’s treatment, not only applying the social skills learned in the program but seeing firsthand that these volunteer efforts are part of restorative justice and how to channel anger and frustration into a positive outlet.  

Last week, the staff and 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, received a surprise visit from Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham and Central Regional Director for Residential Services Thomas McFadyen.  They took a tour of the facility and discussed future normalization projects, student outings, and the educational components.  In addition, they watched students participate in various recreational activities and participating in the weekly meeting of the Orange County School Board educators. 

Shown here (L-R): Assistant Facility Administrator Rodrick Terry, Central Regional Director for Residential Services Thomas McFadyen, Facility Administrator Kerrick May, and Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham.  

Last month, the young men of Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 15, which is located in Cocoa and operated by Aspire Health Partners, welcomed three young men to the Men of Distinction fraternity.  The Men of Distinction Program was conceived in 2011 by Program Director Joseph Nixon with the objective of creating future leaders.  The program has several components that include: mentoring, experiencing multicultural activities, etiquette training, restorative justice, life skills training, and conflict resolution.

The young men had quite an experience, taking advantage of the opportunity to visit the program’s very own “BGTH Boutique,” which was made possible by the charitable donations of Rick Hankey (husband of Aspire’s Chief Development Officer Babette Hankey).  The young men also had the incredible opportunity to shadow Director Nixon for a day.  One may have thought that the highlight of the day for the young men was the fact that they were in charge and could call the shots, but for each these young men the highlight was simply sitting in the program director’s chair as shown in this photo to the right! 

In addition, the young men participated in a two-part etiquette training provided by BGTH Volunteer and Etiquette Coach Linda Wimberly (loving called “Grandma Linda”).  This course includes:  Dining Dos and Don’ts; Understanding Place Settings; Taking Your Seat and Napkins; Stemware and Beverages; The Bread Plate and How to Properly Eat Bread and Rolls; Rules for Eating Soup; Silverware Savvy; Continental and American Dining; Dealing with Unwanted Food; Passing Food at the Table; How to Eat Dessert with a Fork and Spoon; Protocol for Ordering, Seating, Paying, and Tipping. 

Then on Jan. 23, Director Nixon treated the young men to a dinner at the Olive Garden in Merritt Island.  This is the Men of Distinction’s opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in training by Grandma Linda.  Director Nixon was impressed with the discipline the young men exhibited at the dinner table.  

They were obviously good students and even better teachers, reminding Program Specialist Tremain Gillis to keep his elbows off the table while dining.  According to Director Nixon, the night was really special.  The young men looked handsome and were confident.  They carried themselves like distinguished gentlemen.  “It was amazing to see how the young men continue to transform their lives through this wonderful normalization initiative,” he said, “and I’m sure they made their grandma proud.”

Special thanks go to Linda Wimberly, and Rick and Babette Hankey for their invaluable contributions to this vision.  

On Jan. 29, Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility, a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, operated by Youth Services International, Inc., honored five the residents who graduated from the on-site Home Builder's Institute (HBI) program.  The graduates enjoyed a commencement ceremony and were treated to a special meal along with a celebratory cake. 

The four-month course provides residents an opportunity to earn a pre-apprenticeship certificate of completion with a focus in facility maintenance.  While in the course, the young men learn specific skills in several areas, including electrical work, plumbing, lawn maintenance, HVAC, and Carpentry.  Run by Instructor Gary Miles, the HBI program provides the youth with valuable vocational skills that they can transfer into their everyday lives and employment once they return to their home communities. 

In the wake of last week’s graduating class, the program has begun a new class with residents who were selected through a screening and interview process. 

The Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS) helps alternative schools—in community settings and in locked facilities—implement transformational, student-focused practices, designed to significantly improve the life chances of the students they serve.  Last month, the students of Marion Youth Academy became burgeoning podcast stars thanks to CEEAS! 

They participated in the Sending Some Love children’s book project with CEEAS in which they recorded readings of books they will take home to share with their siblings.  

Sending Some Love gives young people who are in a residential, commitment program an opportunity to share, express themselves, and combat feelings of loneliness and isolation they may have during the holiday season.  Participants recorded as they read a holiday book aloud.  Then, they send the recording to a young child—maybe their own child, a younger sibling at home, or a child at a nearby daycare center.

Staff Development & Training Update 

A Balanced Approach to Restorative Justice — This course will familiarize you with the concept of Restorative Justice and the application of the principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice within the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Word 2013 Essentials — Introduction to Microsoft Word 2013 shows users how to create, edit and share a document.

Outlook 2013 Advanced — This e-course shows users how to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of Microsoft Outlook 2013, including customizing your profile, managing junk email, and working with notes and tasks.

PowerPoint 2013 Advanced — This e-course goes beyond creating basic Microsoft PowerPoint slides to show users how to make presentations more engaging by adding SmartArt, sound, video, and other cool tools. 


If you are a leader or aspiring to be a leader, you know the workforce is rapidly transforming. How will it impact your organization? Join DJJ leaders from the Office of Staff Development and Training for a new and different look at talent management, a success-oriented approach to building teams and developing professional skills that heightens employee engagement. This workshop will extrapolate the convergence and implications of trending practices in a lively discussion that will give you food for thought about the possibilities for your organization. Participants will also learn how to use an individual development plan, an effective coaching tool to bring out the best in employees and retain your rising stars.