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Secretary's Message

February 23, 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.

Sincerely,

Christina K. Daly


Legislative Update 

On Wednesday, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Dr. Gayla Sumner and I gave a presentation in the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol.  The presentation was a discussion on issues related to the mentally ill in Florida’s criminal justice system. Dr. Sumner provided information on screenings and assessments as well as the services our agency provides to youth within the juvenile justice system.

This week legislators take a break from committee meetings prior to the start of the 2015 Legislative Session, which begins next Tuesday.


FJJA Adolescent Conference

FJJA is pleased to announce the 20th annual Adolescent Conference Breaking Boundaries: Uniting for Youth, Families and Communities.

The conference offers the opportunity to share and showcase proven prevention, intervention and treatment practices, disseminate knowledge into practice, and discuss implementation of effective strategies. Over the years we have included noted researchers, national experts, treatment providers, community leaders and others, to share findings of effectiveness in adolescent care.

Workshops have included stress management, suicide prevention/bullying, intervening with gang-involved youth, faith based collaborations, incorporating e-technologies, cross-over youth, decreasing youth violence, building successful partnerships, sex trafficking of minors, family violence, detention alternatives, gender specific programming, the adolescent brain and many others. The conference theme will integrate plenary sessions and workshops together with exhibits and networking opportunities to provide attendees with the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills and to improve adolescent services.

When
Monday, May 18, 2015  -  Wednesday, May 20, 2015 

Where
The Florida Hotel and Conference Center
1500 Sand Lake Road, Orlando, Florida 32809

View Event Summary

View Event Agenda


Prevention Update

Staff, youth, and volunteers from Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, a DJJ Prevention provider, painted the interior of the Miami Central Youth Shelter on February 5. The shelter needed some sprucing up and the youth picked the colors they liked best. Called the “Paint those Walls Project,” it got very messy for a while but after the clean-up, the facility looks great!

Miami Bridge is a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency shelter, food, and counseling for troubled youths and their families. The Bridge works to rescue kids from lives of victimization and crime which in turn helps the South Florida community ensure that these kids have the opportunity to become productive members of society.

In the photo, Interim CEO/Chief Clinical Officer Dorcas Wilcox (left) stands with her youth resident and mentee. They are mentor buddies, a part of the Bridge’s Each One Reach One interoffice mentor program between residents and staff.


Girl Matters: It’s Elementary is a prevention program operated through the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center In Jacksonville. On February 11, the program hosted Teresa Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, during her listening tour in Jacksonville at the North Shore Elementary School. Ms. Younger was accompanied by Weaver President and CEO Lawanda Ravoria and child-welfare advocate Dorothy Pitman Hughes who is also a founder of “Ms. Magazine.”

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of girls by improving the ways in which they are treated. The mission of the policy center is to “engage communities, organizations and individuals through quality research, community organizing, advocacy, training and model programming to advance the rights of girls and young women, especially those in the justice and child protection systems.”


On February 13, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended the coordinating council meeting of the Whole Child PACT Partnership in Tallahassee. This organization is comprised of parents, partners, and community stakeholders from Gadsden and Leon Counties coming together to advocate for the needs of children. 

The purpose of the meeting was to provide updates on partnership planning, discuss parent and youth engagement, professional development and training, coordination and collaboration of services and to develop a strategy for social marketing and outreach.  

In the above photo, participants listen to discussion at the Whole Child PACT Partnership meeting. 




Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended the Youth of the Year Award Ceremony for the Boys and Girls Clubs (BCG) of the Suncoast on February 16 in St. Petersburg. BGC Suncoast honored Kassindjaa Montague from the Ridgecrest BGC who was selected as the recipient from Pinellas County. Montague attends Pinellas Gulf Coast Academy. She has been a Club member for two years. She is also a member of the Ridgecrest STEP Team, “Steppers of Envy,” which recently placed third in a local STEP competition. Her hobbies include praise dancing and stepping. In her acceptance speech delivered before a crowd of over 130 people, Kassindjaa discussed how her experience at the BGC has helped put her on the right path in school and helped her to have more positive relationships with her family and friends.

In the above photo (from left to right): Kassindjaa's brother; Kassindjaa's mother, Kadessa Lindsey; Kassindjaa Montague and Andrea Nix, Director of the Ridgecrest Boys and Girls Club.

“I started at the Ridgecrest Boys & Girls Club with personal issues I had been dealing with for many months. Other than my immediate family, the Club has helped me recover from what I was going through,” said Montague. “My Boys & Girls Club has helped me overcome my struggles in school such as low grades, my work ethic and my overall attitude by providing me with the moral support and encouragement to stay motivated and achieve my goals.”

BGC of America, a premier recognition program, promotes service to Club, community and family while celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club kids around the world. Six youth from various clubs were selected as finalists for this award.

“We are proud of all our Youth of the Year candidates. Kassindjaa is a leader in her Club and is a role model for younger Club members.  She is well-deserving of this honor,” said Nita Smith, President and CEO of BGC of the Suncoast.

Judges included Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Juvenile Welfare Board; Aaron Bresko, GTE Financial; Veronica Clinton, Bay News 9; Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times; Susan Juhl, Bright House Networks; and Jim Myers, Crown Automotive Group.  Sponsors included: Bright House Networks, TECO Peoples Gas, Tech Data, GTE Financial and Infotect Design Solutions.


Detention Update

The Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) in Gainesville received their first litter of young puppies last week as a part of the Teens Assisting Puppies or TAPS Program facilitated by the Pixel Fund of Gainesville. The initiation of the Alachua program comes after the success of the same program operating at the Brevard RJDC. These puppies will be cared for by the youth at our facility until they are ready for adoption. The pups are already getting acclimated to the facility, and as you can see by the picture here, it seems that Alachua Superintendent Forrest Hallam has found himself a new friend!


HR Staff from the Central Region Detention Office held a day-long workshop for facility personnel liaisons in all detention facilities in the Central Region on February 11. The training focused on networking, problem solving, and morale boosting with the Valentine’s Day theme entitled “Love Yourself, Love DJJ.” Each liaison received a Valentine inspired goodie bag which featured DJJ memorabilia and candy to “take care of themselves.” The HR staff discussed areas of concern that would help reduce vacancies including requisitions, interview processes, packet preparation, reference checks, and background screenings. During this meeting, problem areas were identified and different strategies were shared.

Left to right: Patricia Hinder (Pasco), Jill Jestes (Pinellas), Constance O'Brien (Brevard), Ileana Trujillo (Orange), Susan Freiberg (Orange), Kimberly Gander (Hillsborough), Annette Carter (Regional Office).


As you know, education is a big part of what we do inside every detention facility. Accordingly, I am excited to announce that the student pictured here from the Volusia RJDC successfully completed all aspects of his GED testing and became a high school graduate on February 17. The youth’s educational accomplishments would not have been possible without the instruction of Assistant Principal Dr. Tracie Hines and school guidance counselor Rebecca Pelletier. Both ladies have been instrumental in assisting our youth to reach their goals. 

Left to right: William Bennis, Assistant Detention Superintendent, youth, Dr. Tracie Hines, Asst. Principal, Rebecca Pelletier, school guidance counselor.


Office of Program Accountability Update

Management Review Specialist Myhosi Ashton from the Bureau of Quality Improvement participated in the annual College Brides Walk at Barry University on February 13. The six-mile walk drew nearly 1,000 Miami citizens comprised of high school students, college students and community supporters. Some of these participants wore wedding dresses or tuxedos to draw attention to and raise awareness of domestic and dating violence among high school and college students. The walk began and ended at Barry University in Miami Shores with a stop at Johnson and Wales University in North Miami. Myhosi (right) can be seen in the photo here. The event was covered by the Miami Herald, and you can see the full gallery by clicking here.   


Probation Update

DJJ probationary youth “TL” from Circuit 16 participated in the Texas vs. The World All-Star football game last Sunday in Dallas. TL, a rising senior from Marathon High School, and many other blue-chip prospects from across the country were invited to play in the game which consisted of all-star players from each state. TL started at defensive end and made his presence felt on the first play of the game as he sacked the opposing quarterback. TL would finish the game with two sacks and five tackles, as well as handling punting and place kicking duties for Team World. TL can be seen in the picture here, third from the left. 





JPOs Dayhanna Rubio and Jose Garcia and Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty from Circuit 15 participated in a Crime Prevention Outreach Fair at Casa Del Monte in West Palm Beach on February 7. Dayhanna and Jose helped assist the Spanish speaking community in learning about the purpose of a juvenile probation officer and offered information on community resources available to them.   Our team also enlisted the help of several probationary youth who gained valuable community service hours by assisting vendors with set-up, registering attendees, passing out lunch and water, and cleaning up trash around the event site. 




The Office of Probation and Community Intervention would like to thank Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene from the Office of Prevention for their help and due diligence in aiding the Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ). Eugene was contacted by the ICJ on February 10 for assistance with a non-delinquent runaway who was returning to Florida from California. The youth’s mother indicated that her daughter was unruly and needed additional resources to help bring her home. That’s when Eugene contacted Tina. Tina worked through the complex nature of this case using her resources in Hillsborough County as well as the FBI and Homeland Security to ensure that the young girl was transported safely to the Tampa airport. Once they were reunited, Tina transported the family to the Juvenile Addictions Receiving Facility and offered her ongoing support to the family until their situation was resolved. Tina went above and beyond despite her already heavy case load to ensure that this youth received the treatment she needed, and she and Eugene showed great teamwork by helping this family through a difficult time.


Youth from the AMIkids facility in Miami participated in a community service project with volunteers from the Holland & Knight law firm at the Miami North facility on February 7. Ten students and five staff members from AMI participated in this project where they landscaped the facility and made a vegetable garden. The students spent most of their time planting kale, bell peppers, basil and tomatoes. As the garden grows, the youth and staff will tend to it with the lesson of “reaping what you sow” firmly engrained in their minds. The garden will create crops that will be used within daily meals for the kids at AMI Miami North. The project was a rousing success. 








Probation Staff from Circuit 3 participated in a team building retreat entitled “Restart, Rebuild, and Reenergize,” beginning January 29. The retreat was facilitated by Jacqui Clark-Hagan, Office of Staff Development and Training and Colleene Scott, Office of Probation and Community Intervention. Our staff spent their time learning about their fellow employees during an exercise dubbed “Getting to Know You: Discovering the Dynamics.” They also spent time on team building and managing change and transition. Circuit 3 would like to thank Jacqui and Colleene for putting this wonderful workshop together and for their dedicated hard work.


Probation staff in Circuit 3 also hosted community re-entry team meetings on January 26. Reform Specialist Michelle Galloway and JPO Jimmy Cherry facilitated the meeting in Suwannee County where they discussed the importance of transitional services for those youth who are returning to their respective communities upon completion of their residential services as well as enhancing their collaborative communication.


I would like to share two letters of commendation for two of our juvenile probation officers in Circuit 17. The first is about JPO Erica Casey who helped a youth and her family as she made her transition back home. It reads:

I would just like to take this opportunity to let you know how much of a help Officer Casey has been.  She has gone over and above her usual duties to try and help us in any way she could including guiding us through the more than complicated system. My daughter is coming home next week from a 9 month program and we hope and pray that things will be better for us and for her. Ms. Casey has assisted us in placing her and doing the necessary paperwork for passes and discharge. She is a very dedicated person, who cares very much about the children who are assigned to her. You are lucky to have her on your team. I know that people are very quick to complain when there is a problem. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. 

Sincerely,

 SK

The second is from State Attorney Janine Rice who praised the efforts of JPO Tanya Emsweller for her work ethic. It reads:

Dear JPO Emsweller: 

Please find attached copies of Judge Schulman’s orders transferring jurisdiction and supervision to your Circuit.  Thank you for restoring my faith in DJJ.  You are a pleasure to work with.  I value and respect your work ethic and approach to supervision of delinquent youth, especially those who are endangered.  Please keep my contact information and share it with your colleagues in the event I can be of assistance with an issue related to Circuit 17 at some time in the future. 

Best regards,

Janine L. Rice | Assistant State Attorney

Juvenile Unit | Dependency Crossovers

Office of the State Attorney | 17th Judicial Circuit 


Residential Update

February 6 was “National Wear Red Day” for the fight against heart disease in women.  According to a program of the National Institutes of Health, The Heart Truth®: “one in four women in the United States dies of heart disease, while one in 30 dies of breast cancer.  If you’ve got a heart, heart disease could be your problem.”

To help raise awareness of this health risk, personnel at Orange Youth Academy/Orlando Intensive Youth Academy and those who work in the programs from the Orange County Public School Board wore red to work that day. 

Everyone observed a moment of silence to honor the victims of heart disease and posed for this photo with their right hands across their hearts to symbolize their concern about the prevention of the disease.

As a company, G4S Youth Services, LLC, is holding “The Biggest Loser Contest” to promote healthy living and the prevention of heart disease through a healthier lifestyle.  


On Feb. 7, three residential programs operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, joined for an intramural flag football tournament held at the site of the Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program in St. Johns County.  Three teams of 12 young men played in the tournament from three G4S programs: Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program (Hastings), Orange Youth Academy (OYA), and Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA)Facility Administrator Andy Eldridge served as the general manager for the Hastings football team; Facility Administrator Kerrick May was the OYA general manager; and the general manager of the JYA team was Facility Administrator Joseph “Joe” Shuler.

The teams’ general managers explained to each player their expectations of each boy’s behavior and conduct in order to participate in the tournament.  The three programs prepared for the tournament through practice and eventually teams were formed.  Players were chosen as a reward for exhibiting appropriate behavior and conduct in their programs, as well as exemplifying great sportsmanship in playing flag football with other residents in their respective programs.  The teams were set and everyone anxiously anticipated the start of the first G4S Intramural Activities Flag Football Tournament.

Office of Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham joined the festivities on Tournament Day where she had the honor of making the coin toss to set the play in motion.  G4S Atlantic Regional Director Karl Knighten served as football commissioner for the Tournament.

Shown in the photo to the left, General Manager Joe Shuler’s JYA team arrived at Hastings in uniforms looking and sounding the part of a well-oiled flag football machine.  The JYA team appeared ready.  Since Hastings won the first game of the day, this meant a re-match between the Hastings’s and JYA teams.

At halftime, Assistant Secretary Moneyham said to Commissioner Knighten, “Next year, I want to see a marching band as the halftime show.  We have so much talent in our programs, it must be possible.”

Again, she conducted the coin toss.  The game was underway.  During each game, Assistant Secretary Moneyham cheered the boys on. 

All three teams competed bravely, but in the end, there was only one winning team: the “Hastings Wildcats” won the first-ever G4S Intramural Activities Flag Football Tournament!

After the game, all the team members and fans enjoyed a special meal that included hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, coleslaw, and all the fixings.  The teams sat with each other, talked amongst themselves, and got to know each other even more.  They shared stories of great plays and heartbreaking endings.  

Assistant Secretary Moneyham was ecstatic with the outcome of the day and the great sportsmanship shown by all three teams.  Overall, the games displayed healthy competition, great sportsmanship, and good clean fun




Four residents of the Union Juvenile Residential Facility (Union JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 19, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, Inc., attended the Northeast Regional Residential Services Quarterly meeting where they performed a selection from the second edition of the “Life Untold” album.  The making of the album as a CD has been very beneficial in helping the youth to open up about some of the trauma they have experienced during their lives.  While they know they are in a residential program to get help and change their delinquent behaviors, they now have an avenue to express some of their own pain and hardships.  The project has increased each young man’s ability to speak more freely about his past, as well as learn how to let go of some of the unpleasantness.  The young men performed very well.  

On Valentine’s Day, the young men of Union JRF again visited the residents of the Veteran’s Home to serve them a special Valentine’s Day luncheon.  They did an exceptional job and the vets were so happy with the kindnesses shown by the young men.  In turn, the young men truly enjoyed “Hanging with the Heroes.”  




The Super Bowl is a special American tradition; it called for a special celebration.  The champions of Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, that is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, geared up for the much anticipated offensive explosion by the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.  The boys were amazed by the staff’s efforts—especially Ms. Flores, recreation therapist, whose creative talents were a big help to the vision of Facility Administrator Johnny Richardson.

An example of a collective effort, this special event included all of the program’s youth demonstrating responsibility, leadership, creative and positive thinking, cooperation, collaboration, patience, teamwork, sportsmanship, and good listening skills.  The Youth Council led by example working with Ms. Flores and other staff members to plan the event’s menu and schedule, decorations, creating paper football pouches, filling the pouches with candies; organizing competitive games, and suggesting what prizes to award for first through third place winners.  Below is the schedule that the Youth Council set for the day; each activity had a point person assigned.

TIME BLOCK

ACTIVITY

1 - 3 p.m.

Visitation

3:30 p.m.

Super Bowl activities introduction

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Outdoor activities:

Badminton (small field)

Trio Toss (small field)

Paddle Ball (small field)

Flip Toss (small field)

*Football Hoop (small field)

                Throws                 3 pts high hoop

                                               2 pts low hoop

Table Tennis Tournament (patio) 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Table Games (patio)

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Hygiene/Regular Dinner

5:30 – 6 p.m.

*Super Bowl Bingo

6 - 6:30 p.m.

Settle in to watch pre-game and distribute Super Bowl food

6:30 p.m.

Super Bowl Kick-off





Special thanks go to the foodservice staff and youth workers who ordered and prepared the special meal.  In addition, special thanks go to Ms. Concepcion, HR/business manager, and Mr. Alvarez, clinical services director, for helping Mr. Richardson and the duty staff who worked with the young men to ensure a great experience with no incidents.  















The youth first decorated the interior areas with various football décor and selected which team he wanted to win the Super Bowl by placing his photo on a football tag with either the Patriots or the Seahawks logo and then placing the football on the correct board decorated in the team colors in the multipurpose room.

Every youth had the opportunity to be photographed with a football (Super Bowl XLIX) background, which was presented to him by his case manager.

The photo to the left is an example of the photos taken of the residents.  Based on this staff member’s shirt, you can tell what team he hoped would win.

The generosity and continued support of Mr. Wynne, lead teacher from Miami-Dade Schools, is appreciated.  He came in to help set up the very large whiteboard system; youth enjoyed a better experience of the Super Bowl.

The MYA Champions learned about being considerate of others—an important social skill needed for community reentry—by making paper football pouches filled with candies that were made available to visitors and staff throughout Super Bowl weekend in the lobby area.






Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, recently accepted a new intake:  a goat!  This week, the boys in the program are participating in a “Name the Goat” contest.  Stay tuned next week to learn more!






Staff Development and Training Update

SKILLPRO E-LEARNING: Delivering Constructive Criticism — Criticism can be can be difficult to take, but when the intent is to help or improve a situation and it is delivered gently and effectively it can be a useful workplace tool. This course for supervisors and other staff offers guidelines and suggestions for offering and receiving constructive criticism.

TRAINING ADVISORY COUNCIL CREATED

SD&T has intensified focus on servicing the full learning needs of the juvenile justice professional, and the office seeks to strengthen services through collaboration with informed and engaged stakeholders. To support these efforts, the DJJ Training Advisory Council has been formed. The council will hold its first meeting on April 8, 2015.

The following individuals have agreed to commit their expertise to the continual improvement of agency training efforts, and serve on the DJJ Training Advisory Council.

Training Advisory Council Members (12)

  1. Jeff Clarcq, Data Integrity Officer
  2. Cathy Craig-Myers, Executive Director of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association
  3. Cassandra Evans, Chief Probation Officer for Circuit 17 (Broward County)
  4. Dixie Fosler, Acting Assistant Secretary for Detention Services
  5. Amy Johnson, Director of Program Accountability
  6. Eugene Morris, Prevention and Victim Services
  7. Tim Niermann—Council Chair, Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention
  8. Steve Owens, Assistant Superintendent of Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center
  9. Lois Salton, South Region Director of Residential Services
  10. Anne Schulte, Recruitment Director, Bureau of Personnel
  11. Naomi Screen, General Support Services
  12. Paul Wallis, Chief Probation Officer for Circuit 1 (Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties)

Council members will discuss the following items during the April 8 meeting:

  • SD&T Today – Snapshot of SD&T including services and strategic initiatives
  • Professional Learning Factors – Influences changing the landscape of juvenile-justice-related learning and current unmet needs
  • Map the Gap – Group analysis and ideas for meeting current needs and anticipating the future

Council members have been provided the following documents for review prior to the meeting.

Stay tuned for an update on the council’s recommendations!






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