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Secretary's Message

April 27, 2015


Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter



Spring is in full force with flowers blooming and birds singing. This time of year in particular is one for many of us to celebrate new life and new beginnings finding hope in the joys of Spring, its time of renewal and feeling of optimism. I encourage each of you take a moment to reflect on the promise that new beginnings bring. New beginnings are the hope that can inspire our youth to seek out the success we know lies at the end of a sometimes difficult and tumultuous road.  


My wish and hope as we celebrate the awakening of Spring is that you and our youth find inspiration in these words spoken by Ralph Blum, “The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.”






Christina K. Daly


Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Last Thursday, I was honored to speak at the “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” Day event on the 22nd Floor of the Florida Capitol. DJJ is proud to partner up with the Department of Economic Opportunity for this wonderful event designed to teach our children about careers with the state of Florida. This celebration of our children has been going on for the last 20 years and I was thrilled to see so many of our employee’s children and grandchildren in attendance. This event invites girls and boys, ages 8-18 to learn about the importance of education, the top growing careers in Florida, particularly those in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), as well as the impact they have on the future of Florida’s workforce.


Florida is very diverse with careers in a multitude of fields including tourism, agriculture, health, technology, and business. By showing students this diversity and connecting these various industries to the education necessary, we are able to encourage them to explore new challenges and consider a career path they may not have otherwise.


Florida Youth Commission Children’s Week Events

In August, the Florida Youth Commissioners were sworn-in at a weekend-long retreat at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Center in Midway. Since then, they have been working diligently to make the voices of Florida’s youth heard. In addition to advising the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, the Commissioners work on a year-long project of their choosing. This year, they worked to create a campaign to motivate Florida’s students to advocate for the opportunity to evaluate proposed state education policies. The campaign included the utilization of social media, the creation of their very own website, and an awareness video written, filmed, and produced by the Commission.


The Commissioners returned to Tallahassee on April 10th  for four nights to attend several events. They kicked off their visit with a private tour of the FSU stadium, locker rooms, and indoor training facility, where they were joined by myself along with Chief of Staff, Fred Schuknecht.






On April 11-12, the Commissioners attended the PeaceJam SE Annual Conference at FSU. With over 400 youth in attendance, they interacted with youth across the state, participated in workshops and service projects, and presented the FYC to Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel (photo left).



After finishing the PeaceJam Conference on April 12th, the Commissioners went to the Capitol to hang their own hand art, and help the folks at Children’s Week finish hanging the remaining hand art and clean up. The next day, they were able to see the final product as they posed underneath the hands (photo right).





On April 13th, they conducted the Florida Youth Commission Mock Town Hall at City Hall. The Gubernatorial Fellows joined the FYC by serving as Mock panelists, where they provided constructive criticism to better prepare them for the next day.  In the photo above, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum stopped by to share some words of encouragement, and to express the importance of youth in government.

Later that evening, the Commissioners had the opportunity to dine with DJJ Secretary Daly and DJJ SAG members Judge Daniel Dawson, Cheryl Massaro, Caroline Zucker, Shadai Simmons, and Michael Long.

On April 14th, the FYC hosted the Florida Youth Commission Town Hall Meeting at City Hall. The Commissioners were able to ask members of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet poignant, well-researched questions about issues facing youth. The event was well-received by Cabinet and audience members alike.

Cabinet members Pictured L to R backrow: The Honorable Sandy Karlan, Former Family Circuit Court Judge; Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families; Victoria Vangalis Zepp, President and CEO, Clarity1st Consulting, Inc.,  Designee of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater; Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program; Christina Daly, Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; Zackary Gibson, Chief Child Advocate and Director of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection; Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary Florida Department of Health; Rodney MacKinnon, Interim Director of the Office of Early Learning.



Many DJJ employees assisted in putting on this outstanding event. I would first like to thank Caitlin Camechis and Brenda Posthumus for working so hard in organizing this event, as well as other DJJ staff and stakeholders including: Zack Gibson, Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection; Christina Pacelle, Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection; Craig Swain, DJJ staff (Prevention); Chakita Jenkins, DJJ staff (Legal); Yvonne Maffia, DJJ staff (Prevention); Divida Schissler, DJJ staff (Office of the Secretary); Cheryl Massaro, SAG member; Ted Stratton, Florida Gubernatorial Fellows. 


DJJ Staff Member Wins Award in Instructional Design

Marci Driscoll, dean of the FSU College of Education, Umit Tokac, SD&T psychometrician, and John E. Thrasher, president of Florida State University,at the award presentation ceremony.



Umit Tokac, a psychometrician in the Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) and a doctoral candidate at the Florida State University (FSU) College of Education, has won the Robert M. Gagne Research Award. The prestigious award, which is given to only one graduate student each year, was presented to Tokac for his research in the area of educational psychology and learning systems. The award is sponsored by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, and qualifies him for the Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium. Tokac won the award for his research, titled The Effects of Game-Based Learning on Students’ Mathematics Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. Please take a moment to congratulate him on this great honor!



Thanks to SD&T Supervisor of Curriculum and Evaluation Sandi Coker for sharing this exciting news!


Bays Florida Named Top Workplace

On behalf of our entire agency, I would like to congratulate DJJ Provider BAYS (Bay Area Youth Services) Florida in Tampa who was recently named a Top Workplace by the Tampa Bay Times and Workplace Dynamics. BAYS recognizes that by creating a positive and professional work environment they are able to retain the best people in our field, which allows them to continue to provide the best services to the local community. BAYS Florida was chartered as a Florida not-for-profit corporation on April 19, 1982, and was developed with the objective of improving the quality of life and increasing the potential of Florida’s youth. Since that time, BAYS Florida has provided high quality and professional youth and family services throughout the State of Florida. Over a 33 year history BAYS Florida has grown into a multi-faceted organization with 16 office locations and nearly 100 employees.


Detention Update

Youth E.D., a student at the Miami-Dade RJDC was recently nominated for the “Do the Right Thing” Award by school teacher Vondolyn Hightower. This award is a county wide initiative which is administered by the Miami-Dade Police Department and several other community organizations and is designed to promote and reward the excellent behavior of young people throughout Dade County.  E.D. entered our facility in January and has been a model youth both academically and behaviorally since then. All told, the Juvenile Justice Center School has nominated six students during the 2014-15 school year.  Each student who is nominated receives a t-shirt, a coupon for a free pizza from Papa John’s, a bumper sticker, and letters of congratulations from the Chief of Police and Ms. Daly-Barnes, the Site-Administrator from the school.

Pictured left to right: Mrs. McGuire, Mrs. Tynes Daly, youth ED, and Mrs. Hightower, all Board of Education educators


The Teens Assisting Puppies Program at the Brevard RJDC continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Since its inception in January of 2014, the facility has successfully fostered a total of 63 puppies prior to their adoption. Recently, the program was featured in a wonderful story published by Florida Today. To read the full article, click here






Detention Services conducted a series of meetings this week at Headquarters which included directors, regional  human resource liaisons, and regional fiscal personnel.  These meetings are in effort to standardize Detention practices throughout the state and to take detention reform efforts to the next level.  Detention Headquarters personnel sponsored a luncheon for the participants which provided a wonderful opportunity to network.


Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) who graduated on April 24, 2015, in a ceremony at Broward College/Central Campus in Davie. JDOs supervise youth in detention centers as they await an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. Thanks to Major Joseph Seeber, Superintendent of Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to SD&T Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility listed next to their names.

Front row (left to right):  Phillondria Drummer–Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center; Charavia Davis–Collier RJDC;  Tereance Walker–Broward RJDC; Athina Munesar–Collier RJDC; Miracle Redden–Collier RJDC



Second row:  Andrea Minnis–Learning Consultant Manager; Jimmy Joseph–Palm Beach RJDC; Keisha Murray–Collier RJDC; Symom Gooding–Miami Dade RJDC; Davita Billings–Collier RJDC; Marvin Forbes–Palm Beach RJDC


Probation Update





JPOs Timorya Ware and LeAndrea Darden helped coordinate activities for our probationary youth to participate in during Spring Break. Sixteen youth participated in a total of four events where they each earned valuable community service hours for their efforts. Last Tuesday these youth worked to beautify the Community Center at the local Police Athletic League by picking up trash, raking leaves and dumping trash. On Wednesday, the youth organized a neighborhood clean-up where they picked up trash and invited community members to attend. Thursday, the youth were invited to watch the movie “Kids for Cash,” which exposed a Pennsylvania juvenile judge who sentenced youth to excessive punishments for simple crimes. After the screening, our youth were thankful that they lived in a state that focused on rehabilitation. Finally on Friday, the youth attended a community meeting that featured a panel who spoke about youth and the law. The panel featured law enforcement officers and Circuit 19 CPO Wydee’a Wilson. The Spring Break activities concluded with a celebratory event which included free food, drinks, music and a talent show. All of the youth who attended had a fantastic time.  

CPO Wydee’a Wilson, ACPO Dorothy Malik, Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson, and JPO Gregory Shahood from Martin County in Circuit 19 teamed up with their community partners at Henderson Behavioral Health to participate in a clean-up effort at a local park. Staff accompanied youth as they picked up unwanted debris from the park and parking lot area. Youth were awarded community service hours for their efforts and refreshments and prizes were shared with the participants. 


SJPO Jenny Hickox, JPOs Devin Robinson, Allis Richardson, LaSheri Baker, ACPO Dorothy Malik, JPOS Ann-Marie Campbell, Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson and CPO Wydee’a Wilson from Circuit 19 hosted an event at a local library in Okeechobee County entitled “Supporting Youth for Change.” The event provided information and motivational speakers who spoke to our youth about making good choices in the hopes of turning their lives around. JPOs honored each of their youth from probation or Drug Court that were making good progress on their supervision plans.

Pictured left to right:  SJPO Jenny Hickox, JPO Devin Robinson, JPO Allis Richardson, ACPO Dorothy Malik, JPOS Ann-Marie Campbell, Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson, JPO LaSheri Baker, and CPO Wydee’a Wilson.






JPOs Timorya Ware and LeAndrea Darden and ten other staff members from Circuit 19 accompanied 15 probationary youth in St. Lucie County to a local nursing home where they played an old fashioned game of BINGO with the residents. This was an eye opening experience for many of our youth who had never been in a nursing home environment before. The residents really enjoyed having our youth around and have already requested that they come back and perform in a talent show.  


Last Thursday, Circuit 19 DJJ Staff honored two agencies that have a large impact on the local youth they serve in the community: The Boys and Girls Club of Vero Beach and the Gifford Youth Achievement Center. The local BGC offers a fun environment for young people to go so they are not roaming about unsupervised.  The youth involved in their program really enjoy the variety of activities they have to offer and are frequently rewarded for their good character and behavior. Gifford provides year round activities to support academic, social, cultural and recreational growth in youth, adults and senior citizens.  They have also opened their location to be a community outpost where DJJ JPOs can meet with clients on a regular basis. Both of these agencies are a crucial part of preventing youth delinquency in Indian River County by giving youth structure, skills and activities that keep their endless energy focused on positive life choices.  

Pictured left to right: JPOS Nathan Peterson, Gifford Youth Achievement Center staff members Freddy Wilfork and Barbara Pierce, Boys & Girls Club Program Administrator Phyllis Schneider and CPO Wydee’a Wilson


Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty and JDAI Coordinator Kathy Demosthenes from Circuit 15 presented at the local BRIDGES of Rivera Beach parents’ meeting last Wednesday. BRIDGES is a part of the Children Services Council of Palm Beach County that connects local families to community resources. BRIDGES focuses on ensuring that children are born healthy and free from abuse and neglect while getting them ready for kindergarten. Shirlon spoke about the current prevention initiatives in the circuit for at-risk youth and the importance of parents enrolling their children in Pre-K programs to increase literacy rates for youth ages 3 and up. Kathy addressed the importance of enrolling youth in available community services early in order to prevent delinquency and further reduce juvenile arrests and detention stays.



Circuit 20 JPOS Tracie Foss attended a luncheon for the League of Women Voters in Naples on April 13 where they welcomed the Honorable Judge Christine Greider as their guest speaker. Judge Greider discussed the at-risk youth in Collier County and how the decisions she hands out were made by a person who is passionately concerned about their future and how they impact them for the rest of their lives.


Last Friday, Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq spoke to a group of two hundred 4th and 5th grade students at Colonial Elementary School in Fort Myers. Lut spoke on the importance of knowing the law and making good choices and good decisions as well as making good grades in school. 









JPO Toni Lesher and Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 participated in the 2nd Annual Basketball Celebrity Drive the Lane Event on April 18 in Fort Myers. The event was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other businesses including local radio and television. Drive the Lane promotes prevention efforts against drunk driving. Lut and Toni were on hand to promote the agency’s reform efforts and Roadmap to System Excellence. They provided brochures on an array of issues that our young generations and families face as well as promoting the Department’s mission to reduce delinquency. Celebrities at the event included former NFL stars Earnest Graham, Jevon Kearse, Fred Taylor, Antonio Freeman and Marcus Stroud and major league baseball players Matt Groff, Ryan Glynn and Kevin Elliot. These celebrities played with local heroes from Fort Myers in the form of firefighters and law enforcement. 


Circuit 5 Reform Specialist Randy Reynolds co-chaired a Youth Career Preparation Expo in each of the five counties that comprise Circuit 5 including Lake, Citrus, Sumter, Marion and Hernando. These expos were created by the DMC Subcommittee from the local Circuit Advisory Board and provided several workshops for our youth including: budgeting/financial planning, resume building, dressing for success, mock interviewing, goal setting and a “lunch & learn” session on expungement. The purpose of this event has been to prepare our at-risk youth for future career opportunities and provide them with skills necessary to obtain their goals. 


These expos were co-chaired with DCF and sponsored by the following organizations: Career Source, Henkel’s & McCoy, Res Care, Goodwill, United Way, Lake Tech, Howard Academy, Oxford Assembly of God, Salvation Army, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Ocala Fire & Rescue and Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida.


The above-mentioned agencies also rallied together with the community to host a clothing drive at several locations in each of the Circuit 5 counties.  The clothing drive focused on lightly used business attire which was displayed at each expo on clothing racks donated by Life Changing Ministries.  Youth were able to choose from several clothing items as well as briefcases, accessories, shoes and ties.  All leftover clothing items were donated to local thrift stores.


CPO Jill Wells, ACPO Johnny Alderman, JPOSs Abby Anderson and Tracy Hunt, and other DJJ staff members in Circuit 9 celebrated “Youth Success Day” on April 16th  at the AMIkids facility in Orlando. Abby and Tracy coordinated a cook-out and a volleyball game between AMI youth, DJJ staff and officers from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Jill and Johnny presented two youth with a Certificate of Excellence for having perfect attendance during the 3rd nine weeks of the school year. All of the youth involved with this event had a wonderful time. 


CPO Adrienne Conwell and JPOS Joyce Clay from Circuit 6 served as guest speakers during the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Advisory Board Meeting on April 16th.   Adrienne and Joyce presented an overview of the Department of Juvenile Justice and gave time for a question and answer segment afterwards. Many board members were in attendance and gained insightful knowledge from the presentation.







Circuit 11 probation officers honored three of their probationary youth last week in recognition of Youth Success Week. In Unit 109, probation staff nominated worthy candidates and chose one to honor with a pizza lunch and a gift card. Youth D.R. (pictured left) who had recently completed his probation requirements was the winner. D.R. participates in ROTC in addition to his academics and has made an incredible change for the better.  His proud mother also participated in the celebration. 


Unit 106 honored two of their former probationary – youth C.S. and L.R. (pictured right). C.S. is currently in JROTC and plans to attend college.  L.R. entered the system under challenging circumstances, but through persistent counseling and dedicated supervision she eventually turned her life around and successfully completed probation.  L.R. is now independent and living on her own.  She is employed, attending school and planning on enrolling in college.  For their success, they were awarded a certificate of appreciation, a gift card of their choice and a delicious spaghetti luncheon.











Probation staff in Circuit 16 held their annual “Youth Success Day” luncheon last Friday in Key West. During the luncheon, murals from the “Color My World” event which we featured last week were on display, and the winning entries were announced for the poetry, essay and poster contest. Most of the local juvenile court judges were on hand for the standing room only event as well as Key West Police Chief Donie Lee. The most moving moment of the luncheon was when the first place winner of the poetry contest read his poem, along with the second place winner.  The honored youth by each program were very happy to receive the recognition, along with their gifts.


Probation staff in Circuit 15 held their “Youth Success Day” activities last Friday in West Palm Beach where they honored seven youth who had completed their probation obligations. The youth had multiple stories of complex challenges and hardships that had occurred during their probationary period, but with strong determination and support from their family members and the DJJ staff, they were able to overcome those obstacles and adversities. DJJ staff provided lunch to the youth and family members in attendance and presented these youth with a certificate of recognition and a gift card. 




I am pleased to share this letter of appreciation sent to CPO David Kerr from Circuit 7 from a parent who expressed her gratitude for JPO Michael Conville. It reads:



Chief Kerr, 


I am writing to express my deepest gratitude for the support Michael Conville, probation officer, has given me while performing as Guardian ad Litem.   Z.J. received the “Turn it Around” award last night and it wouldn’t have happened had Mr. Conville not driven this to fruition. 


 His 17 years of life have been a struggle, not for anything that he did wrong.   Abandoned as a baby, he moved from foster home to foster home.  He was adopted by a couple who ended in prison due to child abuse, ultimately ending in him being returning to foster care.  When I met Z.J. he did not speak.  He was diagnosed with severe PTSD.   He continued to be moved from group home to group home, school to school.  Sometimes these moves occurred 5-6 times in 2 months. 


 I have been advocating for him for 3 years now and struggled watching him make poor choices. 


I’ll admit I came close to giving up last year, then Mr. Conville came into our lives.  It was he who kept me going, and he who constantly kept in touch, giving me advice, making suggestions that worked.  He even came outside of regular hours to talk to Zachery for me.  He believed in Z.J. and that is what has made this case successful. With George, my husband, as his mentor and Mr. Conville vowing to continue to help him in any way, last night was a bittersweet ending as Z.J. headed back to FLYCA with his award, his probation closed out, and a big smile on his face. 


All of this would have never occurred without Mr. Conville.  It has been an honor to work with a man of such respect and integrity. Please extend my sincere gratefulness for all he has done.  


Thank you,


Dorothy Currie


I would also like to share this letter that was written to CPO Minnie Bishop from Circuit 2 in appreciation of ACPO Rico Cooper who took time out of his day to help a prospective adoptive parent. It reads:



In desperation to save an adoption which was being destroyed by lack of concrete data, I reached out last week to your ACPO Mr. Rico Cooper.  He was kind enough to take my call and spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me until all of the issues were adequately disposed of.  He was very insightful and analytical in providing me the true picture of what I was facing and offered several directions to travel in to obtain what I needed.  In addition, he referred my inquiries to the Attorneys for the client Jay Bryant and kept me in the communications loop to the eventual resolution of the inquiry.


 Mr. Cooper displays the unique qualities of a compassionate gentlemen who was fully willing to engage my concerns and was very empathetic with my passion to get this adoption mess under control.  He is certainly an excellent spokesman for your department and an excellent advocate for the youths you represent.


 It is rare that we can speak this highly of a public servant, it is my pleasure to so report to you with my most heartfelt commendation.  




Prospective Adoptive Parent 



On Saturday April 18th, Circuit 15 Probation Staff and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputies worked together with youth currently on probation through the T.A.G. (Teens Against Graffiti) Project. The participating youth painted over unsightly graffiti covering a local business wall and a vacant building close to family shopping areas in West Palm Beach, FL. DJJ and PBSO will continue to work on eradicating graffiti every third Saturday of the month in different locations throughout Palm Beach County. Various youth with non-violent charges will be given the opportunity to participate in the T.A.G. Project to earn community service hours and learn appreciation and respect for the property in their communities. In attendance were: CPO Gregory Starling, ACPO Geeta Loach- Jacobson, SJPO Elsa Westcarth, JPO Re’Shaw Exilien and Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty.


Prevention Update

Procurement Specialist Becky Bodie took part in the Red Shoe 5k Run to support the local Tallahassee Ronald McDonald House on April 18th. Becky joined her girlfriends and their children for the 5K run to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tallahassee. The Red Shoe Run was presented by Capital Health Plan. All proceeds from the Red Shoe Run will be used for the program services to pediatric patients and their families at the Tallahassee Ronald McDonald House.

In the above photo, Becky Bodie and her son Dawson pose for a selfie before the Red Shoe 5K Run to support the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tallahassee.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended the Women’s History Month event presented by My Life Tallahassee on March 25 at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center. My Life is currently in its third year in Tallahassee.  The My Life events are hosted in partnership with numerous organizations servicing youth and individuals who are dedicated to empowering Tallahassee’s youth.  My Life is a fun and inspiring group working with youth between the ages of 13-23 who have had experiences with mental health, substance abuse, foster care and/or other challenges.


The My Life event featured several inspiring speakers including Kendra Moore, Interim Executive Director of the Palmer Munroe Teen Center.  There was also an inspiring performance by hip-hop, soul and gospel music artist Gina Mae Jones - “Raspy Rapz,” and as always, fun and engaging activities and free food.






Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene was the keynote speaker for a teen summit on April 17th at The Spring of Tampa Bay. More than 110 teens, college students, school social workers, teachers, guidance counselors, youth advocates and others interested in issues affecting young people attended Tina’s motivational presentation.  Statistics show that 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.


The mission of The Spring of Tampa Bay, Inc. is to prevent domestic violence, protect victims and promote change in lives, families and communities. Since their founding in 1977, The Spring has provided sanctuary and services to more than 60,000 abused adults and their children. The Spring is the Department of Children and Families’ certified domestic violence center for Hillsborough County. It is one of the largest of Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers and the first domestic violence agency in the U.S. to have an accredited on-site school for resident children.


The Spring’s programs and services help victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives and raise awareness to prevent domestic violence from occurring. To learn more about The Spring of Tampa Bay, click here


Residential Update

Last month, six of the non-secure residential commitment programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLCGulf Academy (Circuit 7), Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program (Circuit 7), Orange Youth Academy (Circuit 9), Jacksonville Youth Academy (Circuit 4), Bartow Youth Academy (Circuit 10), and Highlands Youth Academy (Circuit 10)—joined together for the third and final intramural flag football game of the season.  The tournament was held at the Hastings Complex, which is located in St. Johns County.  

It was another great day of sportsmanship between all of the young men, as they played with intense energy for the chance to be named the tournament champs.  Not only were the players excited, but so were each of the teams’ general managers (GMs), Facility Administrators Andy Eldridge, Kerrick May, Joe Shuler, Thomas Thomas, and Norma Wynn.  All GMs were on the sidelines encouraging their teams to play hard, with the hopes of winning the trophy.  Highlands, Jacksonville, Bartow, and Hastings gave it their all but could not hold off the team from Orange Youth Academy, which won the championship game.

It was great to see all the support from staff, on and off duty, encouraging the young men in each tournament game.  After the games were over, all of the young men enjoyed a meet-and-greet celebratory meal in the multipurpose room where they enjoyed grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans. 

Congratulations to the G4S Intramural Flag Football Champions—Orange Youth Academy!  

On March 29, seven students from the flag football students of the Orange Youth Academy and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (a non-secure commitment program for males, ages 12 to 18, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC) were chosen for a special outing.  With tickets donated by the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League (AFL), the students were among the spectators of the game between the Predators and the Philadelphia Soul at the Amway Center in Orlando.  


While watching a different type of football between two great teams, the young men enjoyed popcorn, soda, and hot dogs. 


After the game, the students and staff were allowed onto the field to have their photos taken with Arness Ikner, a defensive back with the Orlando Predators whose college football career was with Middle Tennessee State University.  He took the time to teach them the rules of the AFL and discuss the differences between the AFL and the National Football League (NFL).  


The Melbourne Center for Personal Growth (MCPG), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc., provides the students in residence with twice-weekly opportunities to learn occupational and artistic skills.  In the Arts in Residency Program, facilitated by Jon Emmerich, of Emmerich Video Productions, LLC, and Pablo Remonsellez, of Brevard Cultural Alliance, the students engage in multimedia services such as photography, special effects, graphics, and videography.


The pictures shown below capture the youth actively engaged in taking over-the-shoulder profile photos and intently listening to Mr. Emmerich’s presentation on the art of videography.  





L-R:  The students learn how to take over-the-shoulder portrait photographs.  The students learn in the classroom about the art of videography.



Also in March, the MCPG boys also attended a community seminar conducted by the Rockledge Police Department titled “Law and Order.”  The seminar (pictured right) taught the youth from the community and the MCPG students how to interact with law enforcement officers, including what to do and what not to do or say when approached by law enforcement.  The MCPG boys truly appreciated the experience of interacting with members of law enforcement in such a positive manner.






On March 30, eight residents of the Challenge Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Eckerd Youth Alternatives, attended the Hernando County Youth Career Prep Seminar.  The seminar was the collaboration of the DJJ Office of Probation and Community Intervention and the Department of Children and Families.  

The seminar opened with a presentation about goal setting (shown in the photo to the left).  The first presenter discussed the importance of setting both short- and long-term goals to help each student achieve success educationally and vocationally.  After the opening presentation, the students divided into small groups to attend breakout sessions. 

One breakout session presented information about Mobile One Stop, a bus that is provided by CareerSource Pasco Hernando.  The Mobile One Stop is a self-contained resource room on wheels with 12 computer stations; satellite Internet and telecommunications; printing, copying, and total mobility.  On the Mobile Unit, the students learned how to create an account on Employ Florida and then how to search for available jobs in their local communities.   Shown right is the inside of the Mobile Unit.  

In another breakout session, students watched presenters act out mock interviews and showed great participation in pointing out what not to do when interviewing for a job.  After reviewing some common interview questions and tips, students participated in their own mock interviews. 


In the last breakout session, students learned about appropriate interview clothing and appearance.  They were able to go around the room and ask the presenter questions about how to dress, accessories to wear, etc. After lunch, the students browsed through donated clothing that was appropriate for interviews.  Many of the Challenge JRF boys picked out clothes to take home for job searches once they have graduated from the program.  A few of the students set personal goals to learn how to tie a tie while they were in the room; they accomplished that goal with huge smiles on their faces.  


The Hernando County Youth Career Prep Seminar presenters were kind enough to donate the clothing that was not taken that day to the Challenge JRF program, allowing future residents to have the clothes needed to prepare them for great job interviews.  


Earlier this month, the students and staff of the Orange Youth Academy (OYA) and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA), which are both programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in the “The Youth Summer Employment Recruiting Event” at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida 


Ten students who are in transition and about to graduate from OYA/OIYA made positive impressions by wearing professional attire and by having personal portfolios that contained copies of cover letters, résumés, social security cards, birth certificates, and Florida identification cards.  









Businesses in attendance for the job fair included: Ralph Lauren, Disney, Rainforest Cafe, McDonalds, Steak ‘n Shake, YMCA of Orlando, Sea World, Marriott Hotels Corporation, Waffle House Corporation, Landry’s Steakhouse, Wells Fargo, Sports Authority, Wet ‘n Wild, and Hyatt Hotels Corporation.  


This job fair was for students to gain summer employment and to learn about careers in general.  All 10 of the OYA/OIYA youth had interviews with the various corporations represented; those corporations are scheduling second interviews in the upcoming weeks to secure the boys’ employment.  

One of the highlights of the job fair was having a recent graduate attend.  The other boys and staff were pleasantly surprised to learn he is following his transition plan’s schedule of events calendar, outlined by the facility. 


In the photo to the left, the OYA/OIYA graduation is the one dressed in black, standing in the middle and holding the portfolio he received from the program.

The graduate gave the students a few words of advice, “If you follow the plan, it would lead you to success.”  It was gratifying for the staff to hear this young man give his advice because they witnessed him grow from a boy into a young man in a short period.  The students were able to take a picture with the graduate and give him celebratory hugs on his future endeavors.


When they returned to the facility, they all spoke highly of the experience and were thankful for the opportunity to earn funds legally.  The goal is to have each student gainfully employed upon graduation from OYA/OIYA. 


Shown right is OYA/OIYA Case Manager Rodney Green with one of the students at the job fair.  


At the end of March, OYA/OIYA had four students who were about to transition home.  They expressed interest in continuing their educations at Job Corps


Prior to returning home, the students attended the Job Corps registration and spoke with their representatives, learning more about the secondary educational services Job Corp offers.




One student stated, “It is all about change and if Job Corps can assist me with changing my life, I am all for it.” 


The staff members of OYA/OIYA are so proud of these students working to continually change and improve.  




Education Update

Kim Zygmant and Billy Calvert, presenters for Discovery Science Center of Ocala’s Star Lab, show off the portable planetarium.


Marion County School Teacher Dale Wade who teaches our youth at the Marion Youth Academy in Ocala recently contracted with Star Lab; a portable planetarium operated by the Discovery Science Center of Ocala. Star Lab, which is funded through the Marion County Public School Title I Program, gave our students the opportunity to experience the wonders of the night sky first hand. Through the use of a specially designed projector beamed on to the ceiling of the Star Lab, an exact replica of the night sky at different latitudes, hemispheres and time of year was recreated.  Students learned about the use of stars as early navigation tools, as sources for Greek and Roman mythology, and as tools for exploring space and the universe.


For Star Lab presenters Kim Zygmant and Billy Calvert, this was their first time conducting a Star Lab session in a juvenile justice setting. They reported that this session was unexpectedly one of the best days they ever had using Star Lab, and that the students were eager, engaged, attentive, and inquisitive!


Staff Development and Training Update

Left to right: Mr. Powell – Volunteer from OYA, and PAR instructors Harold Dixon – Circuit 18 Probation, Kerrick May – Orange Youth Academy, Tanesha Blackmon – SD&T, Omar Bohler – Circuit 9 Probation.

Kudos to the team of PAR Instructors of the Central Region: Tanesha Blackmon (Staff Development & Training), Omar Bohler (Central Region Commitment Manager), Mickel Green (Seminole County Sheriff’s Office - Circuit 18), Johnny Hart (Brevard Group Treatment Home – Aspire Health Partners, Inc. - Circuit 18), Harold Dixon (Circuit 18 Probation), and Kerrick May (Orange Youth Academy – G4S - Circuit 9). Each year, the team participates in at least one community service event. For the 2015 calendar year, they chose to volunteer at the “Help Build a Playground” community service event with UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) of Central Florida.   



The team, along with their family and friends as well as a host of other organizations that included Disney, the Florida Council on Crime & Delinquency (FCCD), the Orange County Corrections Department, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and youths from Orange Youth Academy (G4S) and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Boxing League, joined together on Saturday, April 18, 2015, to build a safe place for children play in the Pine Hills community of West Orlando. The new playground is located at 5800 Golf Club Blvd, Orlando, FL 32808.     





The PAR instructors were eager to participate in this project because they believe it embodies the Department’s vision, in which the children and families of Florida live in safe, nurturing communities that provide for their needs, recognize their strengths and support their success.



“As a non-profit organization, the UCP of Central Florida walks hand-in-hand with other community agencies whose mission it is to help children, with and without special needs, reach their full potential. That is also, in essence, what we do for the kids that we serve,” said Master PAR Instructor Tanesha Blackmon.



“This project also supports our DJJ guiding principles. For instance, one of these is to strengthen partnerships with judicial, legislative and community stakeholders.  We will be working alongside many of these entities in this volunteer project. Another of our guiding principles is to promote public safety through effective intervention and to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our children.  Building a playground in an at-risk community is an attempt to provide that safe environment for children to play. It also gives them an alternative to just being idle in the community, which based on our professional experience, is one of the factors that can contribute to delinquent and antisocial behavior. As for our principle of preserving and restoring physical and mental health, just the installation of a playground, in and of itself, is vital for a child’s cognitive, mental/emotional, physical, and social development. These are the very things that DJJ trains its employees to not only recognize, but to nurture in the children that we serve. Therefore, it only made sense to us, as representatives of DJJ, that this event would be the event to volunteer for in our local community,” stated Blackmon.



UCP of Central Florida, a tuition free public charter school, is a resource for families, children, the medical community, and referral agencies in Central Florida. It provides support, education and therapy services in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. UCP helps children from birth to age 21 who have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, speech delays, developmental delays, vision and hearing impairment, and also serves children, teenagers and young adults through individually designed physical, speech and occupational therapy.



To see Channel 6 news coverage, click here.



Below is a message of thanks the group received following the event.



Good afternoon UCP KaBOOM Volunteers – 


WOW!  What an incredible site it was to see all of our amazing volunteers and friends come together in building this beautiful playground for our UCP Pine Hills students.  With your hard work and dedication, and the support of our partners at Walt Disney World & KaBOOM, we were able to provide UCP’s children with a place where their imagination can run wild, a place to promote a healthy lifestyle and a place where children of ALL abilities can learn & play.  


Check out photos from our build day here and feel free to share on your social media channels.  Remember #playmatters! 


On behalf of all of our staff, children and families at UCP, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We are humbled by the amount of support we have received from our community in continuing to make UCP’s mission possible!  We hope to see you again soon. 


Asma Addarrat


UCP of Central Florida


Community Development Manager 



FJJA Adolescent Conference 

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


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


View Event Summary


View Event Agenda 


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.