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Secretary's Message

March 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.





Christina K. Daly


JJSIP Update 

Last week, we rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in Circuit 2.  On Thursday, approximately 40 staff members from DJJ’s Office of Probation and Community Intervention, the Circuit 2 North (West) Regional Residential Services Office, the Bureau of Research and Data, the Bureau of Contract Management, and the Office of Staff Development gathered together for a meeting to learn about JJSIP and its implementation.  On Friday, City of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and I gave the opening remarks to more than 100 people at the JJSIP Stakeholders’ Meeting in the Leon County Commission Chambers. 

From left to right: Circuit 2 CPO Minnora “Minnie” Bishop, Assistant Secretary for Probation Tim Niermann, Dir. of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Shay Bilchik, Secretary Christina K. Daly, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, and Director of the Bureau of Research and Data Mark Greenwald.

I expressed my appreciation to all of our stakeholders for their continued support of the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence, of which JJSIP is an integral component.  It also was my honor to introduce Founder & Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy Shay Bilchik, J.D.  Shay spoke to the stakeholders from a peer perspective, gave an overview of JJSIP from a national perspective, and shared the research foundations for the effectiveness of applying the principles and tools of JJSIP into everyday practice—especially in the judicial handling of a delinquency case.



Presenters for both days included Probation & Community Intervention Assistant Secretary Timothy “Tim” Niermann, Office of Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, and Director of the Bureau of Research & Planning Mark Greenwald.  Many thanks go to Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer Minnora “Minnie” Bishop, Circuit 2 Probation Administrative Assistant II Jeff Netherton, all of the Circuit 2 Probation staff, and Lytha Belrose in Residential Services who helped organize the two events.



Director Shay Bilchik, Secretary Christina K. Daly, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum 

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP,  a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating "what works" into everyday practice and policy. Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.


Juvenile Justice Officer Graduations 

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) and juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs) who graduated on March 13, 2015, in a ceremony at Broward College–Central Campus, in Davie. Thanks to Sheriff Scott Israel of the Broward Sheriff’s Office for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis of the Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) and instructors Max FilsAime, Maryann Sanders, Laurie Workman, and Jeff Barrett, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility or circuit listed next to their names.

Broward College Juvenile Detention Officer Class

Front row (left to right):  Devon King— Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC); Charles Oriuwa—Collier RJDC; Jamila Jenkins—Collier RJDC; Amanda R. Smith—Collier RJDC; Lyda B. Stanzione Collier RJDC; Amin M. Tactuk—Collier RJDC; Michael B. Brooks—Broward RJDC



Back Row: Andrea Minnis—SD&T learning consultant manager; Marcus J. Collins—Broward RJDC; Tervaris L. Johnson—Broward RJDC; Wesley B. Tunuufi-Sauvao—Broward RJDC; Edwin Fullington— Broward RJDC; John-Erik Egerborn—Palm Beach RJDC; Andre Delmast—Miami—Dade RJDC; John Cala—Broward RJDC

Broward College Juvenile Probation Officer Class

Front row:  Troy McGee—Circuit 17, Alfred Mendevil— Circuit 17, Jimmy Wong— Circuit 17, DeForrest Dansey— Circuit  11



Middle row:  Akiria Jones— Circuit 15, Lashonna Brooks— Circuit 17, Ninya Williams— Circuit 17, Christie Johnson— Circuit 17, Monique Navarro— Circuit 11, Mildred Ibarra— Circuit 17, Brittney Crawford— Circuit 11, Shagaria Meeks— Circuit 11, Terica Taylor— Circuit 17


Back row:  Francisco Barahona— Circuit 11, Margaret Hall— Circuit 17, Re’ Shawn Exilien— Circuit 15, Edward Hudson— Circuit 11, Cherreba Henderson— Circuit 15, Lucas Lee— Circuit 17, Kelvina Thomas— Circuit 11, Steven Isaacs— Circuit 17


Prevention Update

Eight girls from the PACE Center for Girls in Leon County traveled to Selma and Montgomery Alabama March 6th and 7th on a Civil Rights tour in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march.  This historic march helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  On March 6, the girls spent the day at both the Rosa Parks Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery. The next day they traveled to Selma to help re-enact the “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The girls joined over 100,000 people who were there for the March including President Barack Obama and former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman and current Georgia Congressman John Lewis.



The eight girls were the winners of a Civil Rights History Fair organized by social studies teacher Keith Rivero and supported by the Foundation for Leon County Schools.  Judges included Leon County School board member Dee Crumpler; Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox; members of the Zonta Club of Tallahassee; and members of the PACE Leon Board of Directors.  The girls were accompanied on the trip by Mr. Rivero, Ms. LaShawn Gordon, Program Director and Guidance Counselor Lauren Haight.



One of the girls described the trip: “It was very powerful to walk with all of those people across the bridge and to think about what happened there before. I felt important.”


The PACE Center for Girls of Alachua County were featured in two separate articles in the Gainesville Guardian; a community supplement of the Gainesville Sun on March 13. The first article, featured here, highlights the new leadership at the PACE Center and discusses their big plans for the future. The second article, featured here, included the Center’s “Girls Rock Rally” in celebration of Believing in Girls month. The rally featured a fashion show, music, giveaways and featured speakers. 

In the above photo, Anthony Pierce, left, business manager of the PACE Center for Girls Alachua, and Natayla Bannister, executive director of the local PACE center.


Eight PACE Center Girls in Miami attended a campus tour of Florida International University on February 17. During their tour, the girls learned about the history of FIU. The highlight of the trip was the tour of the cafeteria. The girls were amazed at all of the food choices that were offered. The tour was definitely a motivator for all who attended. Many of these young ladies are now talking about college and specifically FIU. PACE would like to thank Cook Fabiola Hernandez and the entire FIU College of Education team for making this tour possible.




In the photo to the left, the PACE Miami girls visit a mock court room listening closely to their tour guide detailing FIU’s law program. At the time, the tour guide was detailing what takes place in the mock court room and the experience students can gain in the program before practicing law in the real world.


Detention Update

I am pleased to share that Elijah Seegers-Meier, a former resident of the Bay RJDC, has recently joined the French Foreign Legion. Elijah initially made contact with DJJ at the tender age of 12. He was living in a wooded area with his mother. During his last commitment, Elijah worked hard to earn his GED and worked with our education liaisons to enroll in Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. He then began giving back to his community through mentoring local youth in the Teen Court. Elijah had long dreamed of becoming a military man, but his history precluded him from doing so. That led him to an enlistment with the French Foreign Legion.



During his service, Elijah will certainly see first-hand combat, but his DJJ family at Bay Detention as well as many other citizens of the community are pulling for him and plan to shower him with love and support throughout his service abroad.



Bay Superintendent Heather Hart said that stories like Elijah’s serve as a reminder of why she chose this profession and why we can never give up on our children.


Marlene Jacobowitz, a teaching artist from VSA Florida, assisted the youth from the Marion RJDC last week in creating a beautiful under water scene in the multipurpose room of the facility. Marlene also helped our youth create tree branches in one of the hallways as well as character masks and plate mats for keepsakes. VSA teaching artists are professionals who have the experience and knowledge to teach their craft to students and adults with varying disabilities in a school setting, Department of Juvenile Justice facility, or an adult day program.


The Pasco Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) has coordinated with Scott Taylor from the University of Florida Extension Program to offer financial planning and life skills training to our at-risk kids throughout the school year. Scott calls his program GOLD or Getting Organized for Life’s Demands, which offers our students a valuable alternative to the criminal justice system. These kids come from impoverished circumstances that do not teach sound financial planning; a skill which is crucial for those students who fall into a nontraditional graduation scenario.


Recently, Scott’s GOLD program was awarded the Dean Don Felker Financial Management Award. This award is presented to Family and Consumer Science educators who implement an outstanding financial management program intended to help individuals and families make decisions and plans for their present and  future needs. On behalf of the Pasco JDC and the entire Department, I would like to congratulate Scott on this well-deserved award!


Probation Update

Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq was invited on a tour of the Goodwill Opportunity Center last week with Program Manager Tim Goodman. The Center, funded by the ABLE Trust Foundation, offers vocational opportunities for students with disabilities through Florida’s High School High Tech (HSHT) program. Lut and Tim discussed a potential partnership with our agency to provide more valuable services for qualified youth through HSHT. HSHT provides transitional services for youth with disabilities to explore jobs and post-secondary education. The program is offered in 14 high schools across the circuit.



In addition, Lut and Tim discussed a Teen Outreach Program (TOP) that is sponsored by Goodwill Industries. TOP is currently available at two locations including the Suncoast Community Center and the Pine Manor Community Center in Greater Fort Myers. This program is designed for at-risk youth from 6th-12th grades. TOP offers a nine-month program to reduce the risk of problem behavior while promoting healthy choices. 


Circuit 18 JPO Jamara Frazier teamed up with Program Coordinator Andrea Jones from Paxen Community Connections of Brevard County to accompany several of our youth during an event at the Rockledge Police Department. The event was sponsored by the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. This event gave law enforcement officers the chance to create a dialogue with our youth on how to deescalate situations and to promote personal safety when interacting with law enforcement. The officers gave examples of why they respond in certain ways to encourage youth to see their point of view. The youth were also given a tour of the police department and their equipment. 


Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson presented at the Crisis Intervention Team Youth Training last week. This training, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of greater Orlando and the Orange County Government, was a tool for law enforcement officers, JPOs, Orange County Public School staff, and mental health experts. Melinda spoke on Civil Citation and gave stats on mental health within the juvenile justice system. The training was intended to increase positive outcomes for at-risk youth in the local community.


The Broward County school board recently donated over 100 books and other reading materials to the youth at the Broward RJDC. This donation was made possible by the Broward County JDAI team who reached out to the school board for their help. JDAI strives to enhance detention centers through implementing programming that consists of educational and recreational activities. The generosity shown by the school board serves to enhance literacy among troubled youth in our detention centers. The Broward RJDC was very appreciative for the donation. 


Probation staff from Circuit 17 participated in the third annual Above the Influence March in Pompano Beach on March 13. The march, which was sponsored by the Broward County School Board, stands as a national movement to encourage children to be their own person and not allow negative influences to affect them. DJJ Staff, volunteers, and probationary youth were responsible for setting up for the event, helping with lunches and cleaning up after the march was over. The youth earned community service hours for their efforts. The Above the Influence March urges children to persevere in the face of obstacles and celebrate the wonderful opportunities that abound. 


Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Elizabeth Phillips was honored with the Dick Howser Center’s Champion of the Year Award on March 12 at the University Center Club in Tallahassee. Elizabeth was presented this award for her hard work in providing both our youth and their families with the resources and support system they need once they leave DJJ. Elizabeth steadily refers these families to Goodwill’s Good Guides Program.  The goal of the program is  to help youth build career plans and skills, and prepare for school completion, post-secondary training, and productive work. 


I am pleased to share this letter (pictured right) that was sent to Circuit 4 CPO Gwen Steverson recognizing the hard work of SJPO Rick Curtis. The letter comes from the grandparents of two youth who were in Rick’s probationary care. 

Last week, probation staff members from Circuit 14 teamed up with staff from Circuit 1 for a three day EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision) training. This training helped staff learn the fundamental components of EPICS and was hosted by staff from the University of Cincinnati staff and four DJJ EPICS trainers. Circuit 14 launched their EPICS activity on March 11 when they held a special session with the internal coaches. The photo, seen left, shows staff members reviewing their roles and responsibilities and planning a calendar of events. 


SJPO Shaniqua Franklin and JPO Claunise JeanLouis from Circuit 11 presented on Bullying and Conflict Resolution last week at the North Dade Boys and Girls Club. The presentation was made to an enthusiastic group of second and third graders. Shaniqua and Claunise were very impressed with the participation of the young children who asked a few very interesting and detailed questions. The Boys and Girls Club staff were very appreciative and invited Circuit 11 staff back for another session. 


Statewide Risk Assessment Coordinator Amy Greenwald held a Prevention Assessment Tool (PAT) trainers workshop in Tallahassee on March 17 and 18 for several of the PAT trainers throughout the state. Amy and the PAT trainers reviewed and revised the Help Guide and tool for PAT as well as website content and training processes. The trainers included Delinquency Prevention Specialists Pat McGhee, Lydia Breaux-Davis and Susan Stormant. GOC II Lauren Floyd from Probation also assisted during this meeting. 


Residential Update

Earlier this month, Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker assisted in overseeing two “train the trainer” classes taught for the “Impact of Crime Class” curriculum.  The first class, Feb. 17-20, was held in Orlando at the Pine Hills Service Center Juvenile Probation Office.  Class participants included:  Mark Gruber, Isaac Fuller, Jeremy Reeves, Jennifer McFadden, Christina Principe, Adrienne Mordica, Donny Stringer, Scottie Thornton, Ivan Lasseur, Katrina Thompson, and Christina Smiley.  The second class was in Tampa, March 3-6, at the offices of G4S Youth Services, LLC.  Class participants and instructors included Christopher Tunstall, Amelia Spring, Lance Diggs, Crystal Johnson, Ramona Salazar, Nicos Antonakos, Jeff Powell, and Jessica Gibson.  



About the “Impact of Crime” Curriculum 


The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Office of Residential Services created the curriculum “Impact of Crime:  Addressing the Harm” as an integrated, cognitive behavioral educational program for use with adjudicated youth in residential treatment programs.  Based on the philosophical principles of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Approach, the lessons include competency development, community safety, and personal accountability for the harm caused by one’s behavior.  A focus of the curriculum is to help youth in commitment understand the harm they created by committing a crime and to teach them about being accountable for their actions. 



The “Impact of Crime” curriculum uses cognitive restructuring in its lessons, and helps youth develop social skills, peaceful conflict resolution skills and problem-solving skills.  The Office of Residential Services offers specific training for program facilitators to learn and practice the skills specific to teaching this curriculum.  In order to provide this curriculum in residential programs, facilitators must complete 24 hours of “Impact of Crime” facilitator training and demonstrate a level of competency in delivering the curriculum as intended. 


Last month, the residents of the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth (MCPG), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc. enjoyed a field trip to the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in Orlando.  Seven students toured the campus—including a walk-through of the automotive, marine, and motorcycle mechanics classes—and completed a brief hands-on activity that involved building a simple machine.  The students also watched career videos and participated in question-and-answer sessions as they ate a pizza lunch.  They were enthusiastic about learning a career path. 


Shown here, the boys toured the motorcycle mechanics shop at UTI.

Also in February, the boys of MCPG participated in the Semi-Annual Food Challenge.  Two teams with three youth per team worked diligently to prepare a three-course meal that would delight any food connoisseur’s palate.  


Team “A” created a menu of Mexican/Southwestern cuisine, which included fully loaded nachos and Mexican Bean Soup as the appetizer; chicken flautas atop Spanish rice casserole as the entrée; and fried ice cream topped with fresh mangoes as dessert.  Team “B” created an Italian feast, which included chicken Caesar salad and pasta e Fagioli soup as an appetizer; shrimp and scallops linguini as the entrée; and tiramisu as the dessert.  The boys’ creative presentations, coupled with the distinct flavors of the foods, created a smorgasbord of culinary delights.

The team leader for each group gave an oral report about each of the three courses, while six staff members served as judges who enthusiastically savored and reviewed a sample of each dish, and then recorded their scores.  The teams’ stellar displays and flavorful cuisine truly created a difficult task for the judges, who had to reach a unanimous decision as to which team would be victorious.  While both teams were commended for their valiant efforts, Team A won the competition.


The youth of Frances Walker Halfway House (FWHH), a non-secure program for females, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Aspire Health Partners, Inc., chose to give back to the community by serving the members of a local church, the Sharpes Church of God, a special Valentine’s Day luncheon.  The girls who were selected for having demonstrated excellent progress in the program, helped with set up, serving, and cleanup for the luncheon for a special group of elders.   The young ladies reported that this type of service to the community “feels really good” and “makes [them] want to volunteer” when back they return to their own communities.  

The girls also celebrated Black History Month with an event for staff, parents, and clients from the FWHH brother program, Brevard Group Treatment Home.  The girls chose from a list of mostly female famous African Americans, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the United States including Rosa Parks, Serena Williams, Betty Shabazz, Maya Angelou, Malcom X, Harriet Tubman, and Mary McLeod Bethune.  Staff prepared a variety of “soul food” for the guests, which was served by the FHWW girls as part of this cultural heritage celebration.


Staff Development and Training Update



“A new way of thinking about the use of physical action in crisis situations”—this is one of the central goals of the Protective Action Response (PAR) Intervention Model Revision Project. To more closely align practices with system reform emphasis on prevention and our normalization efforts as well as  equip juvenile justice professionals with the tools and techniques they need, DJJ leaders and partners are working collaboratively to revise PAR training for community-based care, prevention and probation programs, as well as residential and detention facilities.



The project focuses on the following goals.


  • More emphasis on preventing crisis episodes through verbal techniques
  • Additional tools for staff to anticipate and prevent crisis episodes
  • Additional techniques to assure safe/protective practices
  • Data-validated practices to handle crisis episodes effectively
  • Consistency in approaching youths in crisis, supported by fidelity monitoring


On March 19, 2015, the PAR Intervention Model Revision Project Executive Committee kicked off the project with its first meeting at DJJ headquarters. The project workgroup will present the committee with a report outlining the proposed PAR training changes in early May. The committee’s approved plan for the PAR revisions will be shared at the FJJA 2015 Adolescent Conference in Orlando, May 19-20, 2015.



Thanks to the project’s executive committee members Fred Schuknecht, Denny Clark, Julia Strange, Dixie Fosler, Laura Moneyham, Tim Niermann, Wanda Finnie and FJJA Executive Director Cathy Craig-Myers, and work group members Duane Pace, Cina Wilson Johnson, Sandi Coker, Angee Hastings of AMIkIds, Jeanette Jackson of Gulf Coast Youth Services, and Samadhi Jones for working to implement DJJ’s reform principles at the staff training level.