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Secretary's Message

February 16, 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

CJCA Meeting

Last weekend, I traveled to California for the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators Winter meetings. The Winter Business Meeting convenes leaders from each state and several large counties to share information, identify issues, and strategies to address them and form a national voice for youth corrections.  This meeting also provides a forum for CJCA’s committees to meet, plan, and present their work to the entire organization.

The meetings are a great opportunity to share the progress and success of Florida’s reform efforts and the work we have planned ahead. 

2015 Prudential Productivity Awards

I have always opined that our employees here at DJJ are some of the most productive and innovative folks in all of state government. As it turns out, the good people at Prudential wholeheartedly agree with me. Last week, the winners of the 2015 Prudential Productivity Awards were announced and four different groups from our agency, consisting of 19 total employees, were given supreme recognition for their efforts in creating innovative ways to become more productive in the work place, while saving the state and our taxpayer’s money. These employees will be presented with plaques in honor of their achievements at award ceremonies later this year. The groups who were awarded are listed below.

  • The Community Awareness Night Team from the Circuit 4 Probation Office in Duval County. This team consisted of SJPO Natasha Swindler and JPOs Dwayne Barton and Ben Fleming who helped to develop a Community Awareness meeting, which is held the second Thursday of each month for working parents and their youth.  The goal is to accommodate the parents and to make sure that the youth are in compliance with their court ordered sanctions. On April 8, 2014, Circuit 4 provided the youth and their families with an appreciation dinner.  Several juvenile probation officers and administrative staff served each guest as they engaged in a family environment and conversations with their child and other families. Circuit 4’s main goal is to become more than just probation officers to our families. We are gaining the trust of our families and communities we serve.

  • The Human Resource IT Team from DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee consisted of Human Resource Analyst T. Dodie Garye, Applications Specialist Joseph Franklin, Bureau Chief of Human Resources Margo Rogers, and Applications Specialist Jackie Suttle. These employees helped to implement a plan in accordance with statutory requirements for awarding lump-sum bonuses to 35% of the agency’s authorized positions.  The Bureaus of Human Resources (HR) and Management Information Systems (MIS) teamed up to develop an on-line system that would ensure accountability, track data, produce outcomes, report findings and enable agency-wide voting for 3482.5 positions.  The voting system saved an immeasurable amount of dollars, in time (developing and counting ballots) and resources (workforce and materials) for current and future lump-sum bonus awards determination.

  • The Success Through Empowerment Program or STEP was created by a team from the Probation Office in Circuit 11 including: JPOS Lana Wilcox, SJPOs Rodney Harris and Pamela Peters, JPOs Tracy Magwood, Jazmine Toomer, Evens Cazeneuve and Caroline Romero; as well as Secretary Specialist Cheryl Minter. STEP was founded to provide accessible services to youth, their siblings and parents while focusing upon education, the consequences of certain behaviors and all available services and resources. The team partnered with several agencies to present information to youths that will empower them, and assist them in positive decision making skills. STEP consists of twelve learning/information sessions and uses a variety of community partners and organizations as partners.   The topics covered by STEP include Bullying, Human Trafficking, Gang Awareness, Crimes and Consequences, Drug Education and Intervention, College/Vocation Fair Prep, The Power to Overcome, Health Education, Understanding My Rights, Learning About You and other topics. 

  • The Office of Program Accountability here at DJJ Headquarters compiled a Monitoring Prioritization Tool Team consisting of Director of Program Accountability Amy Johnson, Contract Management Bureau Chief Beth Davis, Chief of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Steve Brown, Health Services Administrative Manager Jennifer Rechichi, and Policy Coordinator Jennifer Bailey. Over the last two years, this team designed, developed, and implemented an innovative tool to accurately plan and prioritize the right amount of monitoring for contracted providers. DJJ spends about 70% of the Department’s funds on contracted providers serving Florida’s youth in the Department’s care. To make sure the service providers’ performance meets or exceeds the Department’s expectations, the Department sends out monitors to check on the large number of service providers.  The Department is convinced that the new way of planning and prioritizing monitoring will, thanks to better and more targeted supervision, lead to better services provided and better outcomes for youth. These increases in productivity and efficiency will be realized over the next several years.

On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to congratulate these remarkable and innovative employees on this well-deserved recognition. 

Legislative Update

On Tuesday, I presented Governor Scott’s “Keep Florida Working” Budget recommendations for our agency in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal & Civil Justice, and on Wednesday, presented an overview of the Department’s accomplishments, current initiatives and future plans to the House Judiciary Committee.

In addition, the DJJ legislative team and members of the leadership team had various meetings with legislators to discuss DJJ’s budget and policy initiatives.

Monitoring and Quality Improvement Update

The Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement (MQI) conducted Peer Certification Training this past week in the North, Central and South Regions. A total of 27 peers were certified to attend the annual compliance reviews with MQI staff as a peer reviewer. The peer reviewer process allows the MQI staff to team with professionals across the state to ensure quality services are being provided to our youth. Staff are encouraged to attend certified peer training, which is normally held twice per year.

 Picture of: Raina Cannedy – Hillsborough Detention; Ashley Sears – Circuit 5 Probation; Amy Tyson – Circuit 5 Probation; Deborah Wilson – Contracts; Robin Hess – Prodigy

Probation Update

Tonier Cain, CEO of Healing Neen, made a presentation at the Harvey Government Center in Key West on January 28. Tonier provided trauma informed care training to DJJ staff members in the South Region, but also addressed our stakeholders and community partners. Tonier spoke about her experience of abuse and neglect as a child. She lived on the streets for two decades where she endured unrelenting violence, hunger and despair, before treatment for her trauma offered her a way out. 

Pictured from left to right are: JPOS Geoff Peattie, Ms. Cain, JPO Miranda Gray, JPO Nancy Masry and Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson.

Probation Staff from Circuit 17 participated in the “Stop the Traffick,” walk at the Central Broward Regional Park on January 31 in Fort Lauderdale. The walk was organized by students from Fort Lauderdale High School to raise awareness for human trafficking. The walk launched the “Broward AWARE! Protecting OUR Children” awareness campaign that aims to ensure that Broward County families, educators, media, law enforcement and all stakeholders use and share resources that will make it possible to prevent child abuse and neglect and for all children to safely realize their full potential, hopes and dreams.

Pictured (L-R): Statewide HT Director- Bethany Brimer, BHTC Executive Board & Chairmen:  Jumorrow Johnson, Sarah Gillespie-Cummings, Stephanie Bell, Tabitha Bush, Cassandra Evans. Not pictured but in attendance: JDAI Coordinator- Andrea Webster, BSO-  JAC Commander- Capt. Daise,  and BSO Screening Supervisor Yazetta Knighton

Betty Webb, Director of Teens Making a Difference, hosted a field trip to the Brevard County Civil Rights Museum on January 31. Teens Making a Difference is comprised of students from the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Riviera Beach and probationary youth from our agency. The Civil Rights museum celebrates the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Moore. The Moore’s were civil rights leaders in the local community and organized the Brevard County branch of the NAACP. The Moore’s were killed on Christmas Day 1951 in a house explosion orchestrated by the local Ku Klux Klan, and this museum stands as a testament to their memory. During their visit, the teens learned the importance of the struggles of their ancestors in gaining basic freedoms, and participated in a presentation that was given by the museum staff.  The teens successfully demonstrated their recently acquired knowledge by participating in a verbal pop quiz.  

JPOs Latanya Dover and JPO Ardena Bosley from Circuit 13 were recently commended by Chrissy Dorion from the Hillsborough County School System Transition Department. Chrissy said that Latanya and Ardena were passionate about helping our youth and always go above and beyond. She continued by stating that these two JPOs will drive all over town to get a job done and that they are a pleasure to work with and an asset to our agency. The Transition Department secures appropriate school placements, transitions youth out of programs,  facilitates school records requests and assists with any other issues or concerns involving DJJ youth.

SJPO Troi Owens from Circuit 6 and JPO Marlow Blair from Circuit 13 participated in a self-esteem conference in Tampa on January 31. This conference was hosted by Nicole Marchman who is the founder of the None Lost Movement, which was created to bring awareness to help stop domestic violence. Speakers included: Shawn Saxton, Amy McAuley, Pastor Chestine, Ann Thomas, Deborah Yoerg, Carlos Eddins and DJJ’s own Tina Levene. The event included key note speakers on topics such as: Your Pain Isn't Your Purpose, Seeing Me Outside of Social Media and Your True Design. Vendors for the event included: The Spring Domestic Violence Center; The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and More 2 Life, a youth development program.

The youth and staff from the AMIKids Miami North facility prepared a JPO Appreciation Luncheon for several of our JPOs in Circuit 11. The youth involved had just completed a culinary training program through AMIKids and received certificates of completion. This training will help prepare them for employment upon their release. The luncheon turned out to be a great event and our youth were very proud of their accomplishments. 

Prevention Update

Students from the North Carolina Outward Bound School, a DJJ Prevention Provider, participated in a community service project for the Marcody Ranch in Scottsmoor on January 27. The Marcody Ranch is home to the Hope Reins which is a therapeutic riding program. Seven young ladies and two instructors worked to clean the barn so the horses have a clean home. They cleaned cobwebs out of stalls, washed the outside, and dusted the stall guards. The group also helped desensitize two of the younger horses to a few "scary" objects, such as trash bags, Frisbees, an umbrella, and parade poppers. They were able to round out their service by giving the horses some love and helping to groom them, which included some sparkly nail polish on their hooves! The staff and the horses definitely appreciated the hard work of these ladies.

Tampa’s Prodigy program, in collaboration with the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 19 at Al Barnes Park in Tampa. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his tremendous accomplishments during the Civil Rights Movement, Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. hosted the “Paint for Peace: You Are Not Forgotten” at Al Barnes Park. “Paint for Peace: You Are Not Forgotten” paid homage to those in the Tampa Bay area who have lost their lives to violence and it continues to echo the message of peace and anti-violence.

The event invited family, friends, and neighbors who have lost loved ones to gun violence and other senseless acts to participate in this memorial service. Community members were invited to help support this initiative with volunteers who painted stomps along the park. Prodigy youth were invited to attend and help paint quotes and art during this event. The event culminated with loved ones offering words of inspiration followed by the release of butterflies as a symbol of hope, healing, and community transformation. There were over 100 people in attendance.

PREA Update

Congratulations to Lake Academy and Palmetto Youth Academy residential commitment programs!  All programs in the Central Region passed their Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audits in 2014.  The PREA audit reports can be found on the Department’s Web page by clicking here.

Detention Update

The Duval RJDC and the DJJ Education Department teamed up with the Florida Department of Health and Drug Free Duval to hold the inaugural Assault on Drugs Week at the detention center. DOH and Drug Free Duval came to the facility to teach our youth on the dangers of drugs including the lasting effects they have on their life and future. The presentation also gave our youth the opportunity to inquire about the different services available to them and their families once they are released from the facility. The week was a roaring success and our youth learned a lot of valuable information.

The Volusia RJDC held an Ice Cream Sundae social last week for those youth who were named Student of the Week at the facility. Throughout the course of the week, the teachers at Volusia award points to our youth based on school work and positive social behavior. Each student who earns 80% of the total number of points attainable is named a student of the week and gets to participate in an extra-curricular activity like the ice cream social shown here. Twenty-five of the youth at Volusia, more than half of the kids at the facility, earned student of the week honors last week.

This week at Volusia, the youth took part in an art project commemorating Valentine’s Day. The kids spent the time making Valentine’s Day cards for their families and friends. As you can see, some of our youth display some serious artistic ability. 

Detention Headquarters staff members Joe Graham and Erica Ceska provided training for Assistant Superintendents in the North Region last week. Joe and Erica covered a wide range of topics including leadership, FMS, food services, general services, and many others. The training was also an invaluable opportunity to network and learn from each other. 

Pictured from left to right are: Lyell Majors – Okaloosa; Kenneth Brown – Escambia; William Bennis – Volusia; Rhonda Hartwell – Bay; Ariel Beguile – Alachua; Jason Pimentel – Marion; Andrea Akins – Volusia.

The youth at the Bay RJDC recently participated in a Career Week which was filled with positive and relevant information regarding possible career options post commitment. This fun-filled week was made possible by our Bay District School Board Liaison Anne Martin and Community Advisory Board Member Beth Mathis. Anne and Beth have put on this career week for the past three years and have sought out community partners to come speak and share their specific experiences that brought them into their current careers. This year our youth heard from law enforcement officers, a Coast Guard pilot, a commercial fisherman and a lumber broker. These young men and women were excited to hear about career paths that they had not even thought of before, and we are so appreciative of our partners for making this once in a lifetime experience happen. 

Residential Update

On Jan. 29, 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, held a celebration for the students who completed the evidence-based program “Thinking for a Change” (T4C).  They enjoyed a special luncheon, during which they discussed what they learned from T4C and recited the Change Philosophy, which reads as follows:

I have the willingness to change to a better way of living.  By accepting that my past behaviors have caused my present condition, I firmly believe that what I become tomorrow will be determined by what I do today.  I understand there is no such thing as a free ride.  Through hard work and the desire to change, I will become a positive and productive citizen, with a bright future.  I am building my future on a firm foundation based on the principals of caring, citizenship, fairness, respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness.  I will take the chance to change!

Developed by the National Institute of Corrections, T4C is a cognitive–behavioral curriculum that concentrates on changing how juvenile offenders think so that they break the cycle of poor decision-making that led them to a law violation.  T4C as one option in a continuum of interventions to address the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of offender populations.  This behavioral-change program incorporates cognitive skills education, the development of positive social skills, and the integration and development of problem-solving skills in everyday life and situations.

Earlier in the week, the young men and staff from OYA and OIYA assisted the staff at the Guardian Care Nursing & Rehabilitation Center with their weekly game day.  The students assisted with the setup of the board games, escorted residents into the game room, and played games with the residents. 

One of the boys entertained the residents by playing the piano while they enjoyed their games.  It was a great experience for the students to share this experience with the residents at Guardian Care.

Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (CCJOCC), a maximum-risk program for males, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, is involved in the community through outreach programs.  Some of the boys in the program made blankets and pillows for those in Citrus County who are homeless and to send home to their own children. 

Once the project began, staff members and other residents joined in with the spirit of giving to others who are less fortunate.  Those who made a blanket or pillow labeled each one with an inspirational quote.  

One of the CCJOCC educators, Stephanie Richardson, took the blankets and pillows to a local church that feeds the homeless.  The church reported that due to the cold nights, the blankets especially were appreciated.  It was a very successful and rewarding experience for those involved.  CCJOCC reports that everyone looks forward to participating in more outreach projects for the rest of 2015.  

In other CCJOC news, a young man recently earned his associate of arts degree from Adams State University!  He is currently working on his Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology.  This is the first time in Cypress Creek history that one of our youth have obtained a secondary education degree. The program is extremely proud of this young man’s success and dedication to excellence.  Congratulations!

Staff Development and Training Update

FOUR NEW E-learning courses in the SkillPro Learning Library this week!

Effective Verbal and Non-verbal Communication — The exchange of information insures the safety and security of both the youths and the officers within the facility. This course teaches how to communicate with co-workers and youth effectively using verbal and nonverbal communication.

Critical Thinking — Components of critical thinking, non-linear thinking, revise perspective, and problem-solving abilities.

Social Learning — Define and use social learning, identify social learning tools, and practice being a role model.

Organizational Skills Examine current habits, learn to prioritize, and resist procrastination.