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Secretary's Message

June 1, 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

National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community

Forty-seven DJJ team members from all statewide program areas attended the 30th Annual National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community last week at the Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel in Tampa Bay. The Conference was a collaborative effort sponsored by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to foster communication and action among practitioners by sharing innovative ideas and prevention strategies that have been successful in the black community. A major component of the conference was directed toward alternatives to violence among young people. The agenda was designed to showcase successful programs and promote positive exchanges of ideas on the subject. More than 1,500 people attended.

Highlights included plenary sessions, luncheons, breakout sessions for adults and teens, and a Youth Speak-Up Speak-Out session. Speakers included Attorney General Bondi; Wanda Finnie, Assistant Secretary Prevention and Victim Services; Derrick Brooks, President and Founder of Derrick Brooks’ Charities, former member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and member of the National Football League Hall of Fame; Malik Yoba, entertainer, writer and community activist and others from law enforcement, government, and social services.

DJJ Staff members Josh Kuch and Craig Swain conducted presentations on DJJ efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Craig also spoke during a youth workshop to address issues concerning law enforcement and youth.

SAG member and Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones spoke during a law enforcement dialogue sponsored by the Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys. Staff also set up a DJJ display and provided information on agency initiatives.

Residential Update

Last month, the Champions from the Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in a tea party in celebration of National Women’s History Month and Irish Heritage Month.  That event was a prerequisite for the young men who wish to participate in the many formal affairs hosted by MYA, such as dinners to foster social growth.

What followed was a celebration for a successful week with a special dinner planned by the MYA Youth Council, which engaged the young men in a formal dining and business social experience.  The majority of the youth accepted the opportunity to dress for the occasion, wearing brand new plaid dress shirts and slacks.

The event’s dining etiquette was presented by one of the MYA Champions to all of the participants, placing an emphasis on manners and processes.  Even the MYA resident dog practiced proper etiquette and good social skills, during the presentation. 

Considered MYA’s first-ever formal dinner, the event set the stage for more normalization activities to improve each boy’s social skills and to expand their knowledge of global perspectives.  The event also included a demonstration of the program’s culinary arts component; assigned youth practiced their skills in preparing the meal and setting the tables.  Through the continued efforts of MYA dietary services staff, the young men learned all of the tasks necessary to plan, prepare, and serve meals for 24 residents and 10 staff members.


Special thanks go to Community Advocate Judy Ventos for donating the dress clothing; DMHA Eduardo Alvarez; Mental Health Counselor Deanna Rogers; Marie Suffrant, RN; MYA Staff Mentor Navarrette and his crew: Youth Specialist II Grant, Youth Specialist I Mack, Youth Specialist II A. Smith; and to Dietary Services Manager Brockington and her crew: Ms. Pennaman and Ms. Holmes

During Spring Break 2015, the MYA Champions began volunteering with Zoo Miami—formerly known as the Metro Zoo.  The residents toured the zoo and volunteered with head groundskeeper Ivette Jones, who shared insider information on what it takes to preserve the proper habitat for hundreds of different animals.  The young men helped with planting, weeding, mulching, and other beautification projects. 

The young men from the program did such a wonderful job that the administration of Zoo Miami invited MYA to become a partner in its volunteer program.  This volunteer partnership will support the program’s efforts to serve the community and educate the residents.

On April 24, the residents of Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a non-secure program for males, ages 10 to 18, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, volunteered with the Lighthouse Food Drive.  The young men prepared food baskets and distributed tons of donated food to hundreds of people in need.

The boys also organized the food in the warehouse, swept up and cleaned as needed, broke down empty boxes, and loaded the truck that transported food to other distribution sites.

Detention Update

Youth from the Manatee RJDC showed off their creative talent last week as they decorated tote bags filled with baby socks that will benefit the Safe Children Coalition. The Safe Children Coalition is a collaboration between the YMCA of Sarasota County and many local community entities who together provide a continuum of child welfare services for dependent children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Child protection services include case management, foster care, independent living and adoptions.


Probation Update

Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq attended a recognition ceremony for Lee County Sheriff Mike and Deputy Jeff Pierot as they were named Underage Drinking Heroes by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Southwest Florida. Sheriff Scott received his hero award for his efforts to prevent underage drinking, while Deputy Pierot was recognized for his work in DUI enforcement. 

Lut also visited the Hector Cafferatta Elementary School in Fort Myers for their annual Career Day activities. Lut provided an eager group of third and fourth graders information about careers with the Department. After the festivities she received a letter of gratitude from school counselor Martha McVannel-Erwin. It reads:


Thank you for taking part in Hector A. Cafferatta Elementary’s Career Day last Friday.  The feedback received from students and staff indicates you were awesome! Please let me know if there is anything we can do next time that would make the day more positive for you as a guest in our building.  Also, recommendations for growth or changes will be readily accepted. 

Thank you once again for giving your time, knowledge and experiences to the students and staff at Cafferatta.

JPO Shawna Prope transported one of her probationary youth to a sanctuary shelter in the Central Region. Shawna and JPO Betsy Santiago provided this youth, who was released from secure detention last week, a few clothing items and a new back pack for her to use at the shelter. This youth has been accepted to a Sanctuary placement that serves the victims of human trafficking. 

Probation Staff from Circuit 20 including SJPOs Toni Lesher and Sandra Burgado, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq and JPOs Annette Ashcraft, Shawna Prope and Betsy Santiago attended the AMI Day Event at the AMIkids of Southwest Florida.  AMI Day is a ceremony that recognizes those probationary youth who are graduating from the AMIkids Program. The two youth pictured here were in the care of JPO Prope who acknowledged that she was very proud to have two of her kids graduating from AMI.

Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq and SJPO Toni Lesher partnered with Hodges University in Fort Myers recently for a Volunteer Fair. Lut and Toni provided information about the agency’s mission and reform efforts as well as information regarding volunteerism, mentoring to at-risk youth and how to make a difference in the community. Other organizations that participated in this volunteer fair were: United Way, AFCAAM Catholic Charities, American Red Cross, Area Agency on Aging for SWFL, Beacon of Hope, Children's Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Children's Home Society of Florida, Children's Network of Southwest Florida, Inc., Community Cooperative, Dress for Success SW Florida,  Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Guardian ad Litem, Habitat for Humanity, Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida, Junior League of Fort Myers, Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free SWFL, Lee Memorial Health System, Promise Hospital of Fort Myers, Quality Life Center and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren successfully completed her second Life Skills Class with seven probationary youth in Hendry County. The fifteen week class ended on May 14 and a total of seven graduates received their certificates. 

Last week, Circuit 20 Data Integrity Officer Supervisor Jeff Clarcq received a letter of high praise in regard to DIO Laurie Workman who now covers Circuits 15 and 17. It reads:

Good afternoon everyone, 

On behalf of the 05/11/2015 JJIS class we would like to acknowledge Ms. Laurie Workman for an exceptional training presentation on JJIS. We had an amazing week and the training was better than expected. We just wanted to say Thank you and to let her Supervisors know that she did quite an amazing job. We look forward to our upcoming refresher training! We all loved her teaching style and greatly appreciated the patience that she exhibited in teaching the newly appointed staff. Thank you again and we would appreciate if she were given her accolades for her awesome presentation of this training. 

Thank you Ms. Workman! 

Sandra Johnson

Anna Romans

Dontallis Render

Providencia Gousse

Joella Tillery

Glenda Bennett

SJPO Valentino Hart and other members of the Circuit 13 Probation Staff participated in a Relay for Life event at Middleton High School in Tampa on May 15th. Valentino, a cancer survivor himself, served as the guest speaker for the event. Probation staff completed luminaire bags for the event to show support, while administration gave a monetary donation. All told, DJJ staff raised $200 in support of this event. Several probationary youth were on hand to assist with the set up and earned community service hours for their efforts. 

SJPOs Andrice Holley and Shakela Minns participated in a Career Day at Tedder Elementary School in Broward County. The event was for those students in third through fifth grades and was coordinated by the school’s counselor Selena Thompson. Andrice and Shakela spoke to these children about what a juvenile probation officer does as well as the qualifications for employment. The JPO position descriptions, daily responsibilities, and the importance of education as it relates to employment were additional topics covered. 

SJPO Regina Gonzalez and Reform Specialist Tina Robinson from Circuit 17 attended the 8th Annual Unified Family Court Summit at the Broward County Courthouse on May 15th. Regina and Tina manned a DJJ information booth where they highlighted our human trafficking initiatives, and remained on site throughout the day to answer questions and provide information about DJJ.

CPO Cassandra Evans and Reform Specialist Tina Robinson from Circuit 17 participated in the 2nd Annual Black on Black Crime Solutions Panel Discussion on May 16th at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. The theme for this event was the ‘Road to Economic Power,’ and featured guest speaker King Kevin Dorival from the Courage to Believe International Program. The Courage to Believe International is a non-profit organization that provides mentoring, educational, enrichment and scholarship programs for at-risk youth and young adults in South Florida communities between the ages of 12 to 21 years.  Cassandra and Tina provided the community with information on the Roadmap to System Excellence.

The Probationary Advisory Team (PAT) from Circuit 17 hosted a town hall meeting on May 14th. The PAT holds these meetings so that probation employees across the circuit can have an open dialogue with other team members to address their concerns and suggestions. After receiving a very brief circuit update, the team engaged in “The Sweet Greet” activity to discuss their personal and professional assets and challenges. The PAT will then review and act upon the operational challenges presented, while building on our team strengths. 

I am pleased to share with you this letter of praise for JPO Erica Casey in Circuit 17. It comes from a mother who thanked her for all that she has done to put her daughter on the right track. It reads: 


My name is K.M. and my son’s name is KB. He had gotten into some trouble a couple of years ago and Erica has help my son and I get through some very trying times throughout the past couple of years. She is wonderful at what she does and she is very considerate and passionate in helping these kids get through the procedures that they are faced with in order to get back on their feet. She went above and beyond with my son in checking on him often and always being there for him to talk with and I as well. She kept us in the loop with everything that was going on and was there with all the tears. Her strength and willingness and passion for the kids is remarkable and I commend her for that. She has impacted both our lives in the best of ways. God bless her as she is an angel in my eyes and my sons. Please give her our blessing and let her know that we feel she is the best at what she does. Her wings spread wide as she is an angel here on earth.


K.M. (Mother of KB)

Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq attended the Southwest Florida Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Awards Ceremony on May 20th. Lut introduced three of the five assistant state attorneys who were nominated for the Underage Drinking Prevention Hero Award. The award was presented to Assistant State Attorney Supervisor for the Juvenile Division Paul Poland. 

Circuit 13 JPO Jimmy Close served as a guest speaker during the 2015 Youth Extravaganza and Graduation Program at the St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. Jimmy represented our agency during a panel discussion that was comprised of several educators and a returning college student. Jimmy spoke about the juvenile justice system and how wrong choices can affect their lives while promoting good choices and good decisions. 

Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty, SJPO Tiffany Patrick and JPO Keith Rudnick participated in Career Day activities at the Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach on May 22nd. Shirlon, Tiffany and Keith spoke to an eager group of fourth and fifth graders about different career paths including the education required to become a juvenile probation officer and the specific job duties including the daily tasks of working successfully with the youth in the community. The students asked many questions and the staff appreciated their interest about our agency.

Staff Development and Training Update

Director Denny Clark and Samadhi Jones conducted a break-out session titled Top Trends in Talent Management at the 2015 Adolescent Conference in Orlando on May 25th. Thanks to all the participants for their contributions and insights, especially Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht and Assistant Secretary for Detention Dixie Fosler! Attendees gained a new and different look at talent management, a success-oriented approach to building teams and developing professional skills that heightens employee engagement. Participants examined the convergence and implications of trending practices in a lively discussion about the possibilities for their own organizations. Participants also were introduced to the individual development plan (IDP), an effective coaching tool to bring out the best in employees and retain rising stars. The insight gained by the discussion is being incorporated into an upcoming instructor-led workshop that focuses on employee engagement and professional development. For more information, contact Samadhi Jones. 

Kudos to SD&T’s Christina Ash, Duane Pace, Cherryl Faulk and Cina Wilson Johnson on a job well done! They recently received the following note from JPO Charles Dutton. 

I would like to say thank you! Thank you! Thank you! All of you have been so gracious to me and encouraging, throughout my association with you as I trained to pass the JPO Exam. Ms. Ash, I want to especially give you my greatest appreciation, because I feel you went above and beyond for me and I truly appreciate it. Now, as I continue my career with DJJ, I will continue to remember all of you and if I can assist or be a help to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to call on me.