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Secretary's Message

May 28, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last Thursday, it was with a heavy heart that I shared with DJJ staff the sudden loss of DJJ Deputy Secretary Julia Strange. Julia’s 28 year career with the Department was one of exemplary service and epitomized the very passion and advocacy the staff of DJJ strive to achieve every day. When I say that Julia will be missed it does not begin to convey the loss we all feel. In her memory, it is my wish that we come together to completely and fully embrace our mission to turn around the lives of troubled children as Julia did throughout her career.   

 

I’m Free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God has laid you see.
I took His hand when I heard him call
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and peace to thee
God wanted me now; He set me free.

---Unknown

 


2015 FJJA Adolescent Conference 

Last week, I was honored to attend the Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s 2015 Adolescent Conference in Orlando. This conference, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year, brought together juvenile justice experts from around the state and country to discuss the latest advancements in evidence-based adolescent care. 

During the opening day awards luncheon, I was excited to present JPO Crystal Brown with FJJA’s  Visionary Award.  Crystal, who was nominated by probation staff members in Circuit 10, created a free weekly dance program for kids at a recreation center in Lakeland. Many of the youth Crystal teaches are at-risk and come from neighborhoods in high crime areas. Her students have seen first-hand the gang and gun violence that takes place in their communities. Crystal uses her dance class as a positive creative outlet in an effort to divert them away from the criminal justice system. 


I also had the pleasure of awarding Cheryl Smith, a teacher from the Orange Youth Academy, with the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year. Cheryl teaches information technology and career education to prepare youth that will be transitioning back into their community after completion of their program.  One of Ms. Smith’s major accomplishments at OYA is ensuring that each student creates an employment portfolio prior to their departure. The portfolio includes a cover sheet, cover letter, resume, and the certifications they have earned while at the facility.  The types of certifications a student can earn include the Florida Ready to Work Certification, the state of Florida’s workforce education and economic development credentialing program that tests and scores job skills and work habits, as well as the CIW Internet Business Associate Certification and Safeway Food Handler Certification. 

Lucas Boyce, Past Chair of the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group and Director of Business Development and Legislative Affairs for the Orlando Magic served as the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 Adolescent Conference. Lucas shared the improbable story of his life’s journey from the time he was born prematurely to an alcohol and drug-addicted teenage mother. He later found the love and support of an adoptive mother who helped him to find the determination to overcome the cards he’d been dealt and to turn around the trajectory of his life.

Lucas used faith, determination, hard work and tenacity to follow his dreams which led to his job as associate director of former President George W. Bush's Office of Political Affairs. Lucas, a former foster care child, also served as a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. During his stint at the White House, Lucas also got to fly with the President aboard Air Force One.

In his memoir, titled “Living Proof: From Foster Care to the White House and the NBA,” Lucas shares the secrets to his success that involved a chance encounter, an open door, a dream realized that enabled him to overcome obstacles and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

“I am an eyewitness to God’s incredible grace and am thankful for the opportunity to share what I hope will be a story of encouragement and inspiration,” he writes. “I hope that everyone who hears my story will come away believing that no matter the circumstance, they can accomplish their goals.”

The 2015 Adolescent Conference also included many informative and educational sessions led by our own staff and providers.

Faith Network Coordinator and DMC Specialist Craig Swain participated in a panel discussion entitled “DJJ Faith Partners: Prevention Methods and Impact on Disproportionate Minority Contact.” This discussion brought together a group of faith leaders – Gary Montgomery, George Ellis and Cindy Lane – with extensive experience in developing and implementing successful faith-based programs that serve troubled youth and their families. The panel focused on recruiting local faith partners and volunteers, creating a stronger faith network throughout circuits, operating and sustaining faith-based programs and positively impacting Disproportionate Minority Contact.


Katie Dalbey, Director of Florida At-Risk Programs for the DJJ funded North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) conducted a training session entitled “Engaging Youth through Experiential Learning.” Experiential education is an approach to teaching that encourages active participation and reflection. This workshop provided a model for experiential learning that could be applied to academic learning in the classroom and social-emotional learning in other environments. Participants moved around the room “balancing magic sticks” and learned experientially during the workshop that combined lecture and activities.

NCOBS has been offering challenging outdoor programs for nearly 50 years. Their unique approach of ‘learning by doing’ taught by skilled educators has long made them the leader in outdoor education. NCOBS helps teens and their families transition their lives in more meaningful and positive directions. NCOBS emphasizes character development, academic achievement and social responsibility to reduce the risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse and future delinquency. Programs consist of 20-day wilderness expeditions and a 20 to 24-day follow up component that takes place in the students’ home and school environments. Parent involvement is required.


In addition to the above sessions, Statewide DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch and Cheryl Massaro, SAG Member and member of the Flagler County Juvenile Justice Council, conducted a training session titled, “RED, White and You: Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) at the Local Level.” Despite current reform efforts, minority overrepresentation in Florida’s juvenile justice system remains an issue at every point of contact from arrest to transfer to adult court. While DJJ is engaged in a number of statewide initiatives, there is much that can be done at the local level to reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED).

This workshop provided a brief overview of the issues concerning RED in Florida as well as a number of innovative ways the department is attempting to reduce the overrepresentation of youth of color. Additionally, this workshop highlighted the efforts of a circuit that has made RED a top priority. Participants learned ways in which they could get involved at the local level in the efforts to reduce minority overrepresentation in Florida.


Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) and juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs) who graduated on May 22, 2015, in a ceremony at the Florida Public Safety Institute, in Midway. Thanks to Christina K. Daly, Secretary, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to Learning Consultant Christina Ash, Duane Pace, Barbara Campbell, Artavia Parrish of the Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) and instructors Spencer Turner, Jeff Powell and Kwasi Kwaku (G4S) who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility or circuit listed next to their names.

Detention Class

Front row (left to right):  John Ruffin—Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Jordy Jones— Leon RJDC, Michael Johnson, Sr. — Alachua RJDC, Rashad Douglas— Leon RJDC, Brittney Johnson—Bay RJDC, Linda McConathy— Escambia RJDC, Stacy Christensen— Bay RJDC, Lucas Strickland— Leon RJDC, Vivian Hadley— Leon RJDC, Brandon McKenzie— St. Lucie RJDC, Jared Jeffers— Escambia RJDC, Reann Gaskin— Marion RJDC

Back Row:  Anthony Williams, Jr. — Leon RJDC, Omar Robinson— Leon RJDC, Akeem Ellis— Marion RJDC, Dustin Turner— Bay RJDC, Jonah Masga— Bay RJDC, Scott Wutkowski— SW Florida RJDC, Zachary Loveless— Volusia RJDC, Benjamin Elkinton— Volusia RJDC, Jeffrey Schmidt— Volusia RJDC, Charles Green— Volusia RJDC, Demetrius Patton—Escambia RJDC, Frank Cepeda— Escambia RJDC


Probation Class

Front row (left to right): Berley Bresier— Circuit 17, Muriah Kirkland— Circuit 14, Dennie Ledford— Circuit 4, Melyn Paulena— Circuit 19

2nd Row L-R: McFrande Louis— Circuit 9, Lynda Hampton— Circuit 6, Matthew Garboski— Circuit 18, Marie Del Pilar Mendoza— Circuit 20,

Jenelle Beckford— Circuit 12, Cheryl Smith— Circuit 7, Brittney Williams— Circuit 19

3rd Row L-R: Veronica Dave— Circuit 5, Danielle McCarthy— Circuit 10, Nathaniel Tanner— Circuit 2, Jacob Fisher— Circuit 14, Erica Bush— Circuit 2, Trenise Washington— Circuit 19, Michael Potts— Circuit 19, Scott Green— Circuit 6, Karisa Tiennat— Circuit 17

Back Row L-R: Lori Jamison— Circuit 1, Ricardo Hayden— Circuit 17, Jamal Rogers— Circuit 20, Timothy Jahaske— Circuit 3


Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended and took part in the JDAI DMC subcommittee meeting at the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County. JDAI DMC Subcommittee members met to finalize plans for the Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens Academy class that runs through June 4. The Academy has 20 participants from different backgrounds. The curriculum consists of three-hour sessions, once per week. The program gives an up-close look at various components of the juvenile justice system through hands-on participation and speakers. Each session features presentations and site visits by the professionals who work in that field. Any resident of Pinellas County who is 18 years or older is eligible to attend. The program is offered free of change.

The Subcommittee continually looks for ways to reduce DMC while providing community awareness. The Academy is only one vehicle that helps educate the community on local governments, build positive relationships, awareness of juvenile justice and increase communication between government officials and citizens.

The partners include: Bethel Community Foundation, Thasis, and Family Resources, Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center, Unified Family Court, Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Probation, HBI services, Paxen Center, Commitment programs and Britt Academy. Subcommittee members include Gina Gibbs, Pinellas County Justice & Consumer Services; Hazel Hudson, Circuit 6 DJJ Reform Specialist; Barbara Burnett, Thaise; Linda Cooke and Lieutenant Jon Goodley, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office; and Pat McGhee.


Pastor Carolyn Coleman from the New Life Christian Ministries in Niceville led a chaplaincy basic training for Circuit 1 faith partners on May 2. The purpose of this training was to train members of the faith community to actively participate in the department’s prevention and intervention efforts. This training gave members of the faith community information needed to assist in preventing youth from entering and/or from going deeper into the juvenile justice system. Craig Swain, Faith Network Coordinator, participated via FaceTime.


Probation Update

Youth from Paxen’s Brevard Community Connections attended a bullying awareness play entitled ‘MEAN’ at the Titusville Playhouse on May 18. The play was presented by the Eckerd Hi-Five School Based Prevention Program. Paxen youth learned important lessons about the effects of bullying and bullying awareness. Paxen's Probation Day Treatment youth were able to show support to the younger at-risk youth involved in Eckerd's Hi-Five program. Additionally youth were able to experience watching a play at a public theater, something that was new to all. 







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