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Secretary's Message

June 22, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

With the temperature hitting close to triple digits nearly everywhere in our Sunshine State, there is no clearer indication that summer is finally here.  As you try to keep cool, spend time with your children out on school break, and hopefully begin your preparations for summer vacation, I hope you will take a moment to read all about the good work and accomplishments our agency staff, providers, and colleagues are doing for 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

Living Stones International Family Fun Day Event

On Saturday, I was honored to attend the Living Stones International (LSI) Annual Family Fun Day event at the Walker Ford Community Center in Tallahassee. Since its inception in 2007, LSI has been a committed member of our DJJ Faith Network. Their outreach services are designed to help the children of inmates in the criminal justice system by hosting quarterly bonding visits with families, after-school tutoring programs, as well as advocating on behalf of these families.

The theme of this year’s event was entitled, “Making Friends.” The phrase comes from one of LSI’s most recent graduates who said that the most important thing to him while his parents were incarcerated was to make friends with other kids in similar situations. The Family Fun Day was open to the public and featured food, fun, and fellowship including games, horse rides, face painting, and bounce houses.   

Pictured left with Secretary Daly are Living Stones International Founders, Pastor Gary and Josephine Montgomery

Probation Update

Circuit 20 Data Integrity Officer (DIO) Supervisor Jeff Clarcq planned and organized a three day statewide DIO training in Tampa last week. This meeting featured Program Monitor and Management training classes that all of our DIO’s attended. The training featured new enhancements designed to improve performance and updates for users. Several staff members from headquarters also attended including Mark Greenwald, Julie Pla, Beth Adams and Jennifer Bailey

Circuit 16 Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson recently received her certification as a lead EPICS trainer. In addition to her certification, Elaine has helped with the coding of EPICS tapes from the North Region. Congratulations Elaine for your hard work and extra effort. 

Recently, Circuit 2 CPO Minnie Bishop and Juvenile Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson facilitated a Detention Risk Assessment Instrument course at the Florida College of Advance Judicial Studies. The course provided insight on the Department’s guidelines regarding this instrument and its effects on recent case law. During the course, there was some conversation on the use of alternatives to detention and finding ways to connect youth and families to services without the consequences that are attached to the creation of a delinquency history.

The Daniel Memorial Transitional Housing Program is making a difference in the lives of two young men named Austin and Tyler. These youth are working toward their court ordered sanctions while participating with Project Connect and CareerSource to help them become productive members of society, while they transition out of juvenile care. Both of these youth have landed jobs. Austin celebrated several “firsts” – he received his first paycheck from his first job and has just opened his very own bank account! 

JPOs Phillip Minafield and Ebony Cason from Circuit 8 teamed up with the Duval Initiative in East Gainesville to assist the local community with gang-related issues. This initiative is in partnership with Woodland Park and The Mentor Center and serves as a great resource for the local youth. These youth are encouraged to complete their community service hours at the Center while enjoying music and interactions with law enforcement, fire and rescue, and DJJ staff.  

Circuit 14 SJPO Samantha Jones accompanied two juveniles as they volunteered to assist with the Gulf County Domestic Task Force’s 4th Annual Ladies Night Out Fundraising Event in Port St. Joe on May 21st.  These probationary youth earned valuable community service hours for their efforts. The mission of the Domestic Violence Task Force is to encourage local agencies and concerned citizens to work together to put an end to domestic violence by focusing on assistance, safety, education, and intervention.  

JPOS Jesus Sosa, JPOS Vicki Vance, JPOS James Garner, SJPO Patricia Locker, SJPO Shirley Turner, JPO Rickayle Zanders, JPO Dexter Battle, JPO Elvira Jones, JPO Arthur Russell, JPO Angenette Williams, JPO Temika Shoemaker, JPO John Hile and JPO Bill McCullough all from Circuit 13 conducted ride alongs with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, and the Temple Terrace Police Department. The purpose of these ride alongs was to conduct curfew checks on DJJ probationary youth. Approximately 70 kids were contacted throughout the night. If contact was not made with the youth on Friday night, law enforcement went back out on Saturday and attempted to make contact or arrest the youth for violation of curfew and/or home detention.  

Detention Update

Youth from the Collier RJDC were treated to a field day at the facility on June 5th. The field day was a part of the Thinking Positive program, a partnership between school and detention staff with a goal to teach the youth in our care to be productive in school, be respectful, and demonstrate leadership through their behavior and actions. The field day featured a morning of outside recreation followed by a cookout. The staff at Collier would like to thank the Collier County School Board for their participation and donation for the food provided for the event.  

Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Graduation

Congratulations to the newest DJJ detention officers (JDOs), who graduated Friday, June 19, 2015, in a ceremony at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.  JDOs supervise youth in state-operated detention centers as they await an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. Thanks to Frank Gargett, Director of Detention Services for the Central Region, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to learning consultant Kiva Hagans for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed 240 hours of training to become a certified officer. The graduates will work at the RJDC listed next to their names.

Front row(Left to right):  Luis Romero–Hillsborough RJDC, Jenaci Lozano–Manatee RJDC, Denicia Whitehurst–Hillsborough RJDC

Second row:  Joseph Nappi–Pinellas RJDC, Nicole Luebke–Hillsborough RJDC, Evelyn Howard–Pinellas RJDC, Eddie Ashley–Pinellas RJDC

Rear row: Derek Martin–Hillsborough RJDC, Billy Davis–Hillsborough RJDC, Howard Pena–Pinellas RJDC, Adrian Robertson–Hillsborough RJDC,  Matthew Clark–Manatee RJDC

Not Pictured:

Amber Espinal-Garcia–Manatee RJDC

Anthony Santarelli–Hillsborough RJDC

Michael Scanlon–Pinellas RJDC

Alexis Walker–Hillsborough RJDC

Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Kudos

I am pleased to share these two positive letters sent to the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement recently. Both letters came from two of our certified peer reviewers who complimented MQI staff on their knowledge and professionalism:

Central Region

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for letting me be a part the State’s Monitoring and Quality Improvement Review. Last week was my first time “on the other side.” I found the process to be fair and insightful. I appreciate the value the Department places on professionals like myself who have been in the field for a long time and can add perspective to process. I felt like my professional opinion mattered and provided discernment. The whole team approach gives programs a reasonable evaluation of their services. Since I’m also dedicated to seeing youth receive quality care, I found the experience very worthwhile. Please let me know if I can assist again since I enjoyed it so much.   

I also wanted to say that I was grateful for the support of Paul Czigan as the Lead Reviewer. I got very sick last week and he was very patient and helpful in leading me through the review. I found him to be very professional and knowledgeable. It was nice working with someone of his caliber.    

All that to say thank you. DJJ is on the right track to helping youth!  

Anna M. Ferguson, LMHC

Director of Clinical Services

South Region

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve as a peer reviewer. I learned a lot from your staff and they were very patient with me knowing that it was my first time.  I hope that I am selected once again to assist and with my new job title and schedule, June is always a perfect month for me. I will also send you some more dates that I may be available to assist, if the need arises. Once again thanks.

Andrea Minnis

Prevention Update

Congratulations go to Deputy Manager Marcus Smith who was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council. The Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council is a formal advisory council to the Executive Office of the Governor and to the Legislature. The Council helps expand the work of the state’s volunteer faith-based and community-based organizations. He succeeds Pastor Charles Scriven for a term ending July 18, 2017. 

Smith, of Gretna, has worked with DJJ for over 14 years. He has served as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Statewide Coordinator for the Department’s Disproportionate Minority Contact Initiative in the Office of Prevention and Victim Services. Starting as an intern in 2001, Marcus has extensive programmatic and contractual experience serving many professional roles throughout DJJ in Detention, Residential, Probation and Procurement Services.  Smith also has a long history in community planning and engagement and has a Bachelor’s from Florida A&M University in Public Management. He also serves as the senior pastor and president of Beulah Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Gretna.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Tina Levene was interviewed on the Christian Television Network “Bay Focus” program on June 3rd  and 4th in Tampa. Tina and three other authors/speakers were guests on the Bay focus show. In addition to Tina whose first book was titled “Let Your Lessons Become Your Blessings,” other guest authors included Steve Hopper, author of "From Prison to Purpose," Pete O'Shea, author of "Pain Was My Friend," and Bobby Petrocelli, author of "You Matter-It Doesn't.” Together, they compose “The Inspire Tour," a national tour to inspire others to share their stories and ignite them to find the power within to help others.

In the above photo (from left to right):  Steve Hopper, Pete O'Shea, Tina Levene, and Bobby Petrocelli, guests on a recent CTN television program 

To view the video online, click here

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie and Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady led a Community Conversation on June 17th at the Bill McGill Public Library in Quincy. Assistant Secretary Finnie and Verla discussed some of the accomplishments that have been achieved since the Legislature approved Chapter 985.

Other discussion items included Governor Scott’s recent appointments to the State Advisory Group; the Faith network’s expansion; DJJ’s expanded role in providing research and training on racial and ethnic disparities and efforts underway to promote the sale of “Invest in Children” license plates to help fund programs and services to prevent juvenile delinquency.

In addition, it was announced that statewide DMC Coordinator Joshua Kuch was elected as the National Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Coordinator at the annual Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference in Washington, D.C.  Josh will represent and advise all states by providing DMC guidance for strategies, policies, and various programmatic committees. 

In the above photo, Quincy Interim Police Chief Glenn Sapp addresses the Community Conversation audience on juvenile justice crime prevention strategies. Onazina Washington (left) and Marcus Smith listen to Chief Sapp.

 On June 16th, Governor Rick Scott appointed six new members to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s State Advisory Group. All appointments began on June 16th  and end at the pleasure of the Governor. New appointees include: 

  • Dwayne Maddron was appointed as the Chair of the SAG. Maddron, 54, of Tallahassee, is a portfolio manager with Capital City Trust Company.
  • Sharon Bryan, 43, of Longwood, is the director of the juvenile justice division of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. She succeeds Jeff Golden.
  • Stacy Gromatski, 52, of Tallahassee, is the president and chief executive officer of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. She fills a vacant seat.
  • Michael Howard, 21, of Tallahassee, is a student at the Florida A&M University. He fills a vacant seat.
  • Mercedes Jimenez Ramirez, 58, of Cape Coral, is a certified rehabilitation counselor with the Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She fills a vacant seat.
  • Jennifer Walmach, 21, of Port St. Lucie, is a legal secretary with the District 19 Public Defenders Office. She fills a vacant seat. 

Residential Update

June 10th and 11th were the last two days of the annual Youth Survey Project of all residential programs, which began in February 2015.  Teams have been conducting unannounced visits to interview approximately 30 percent of the youth in residence.  This year, the youth surveys were conducted at only the boys’ programs since the girls’ programs were a part of the girls’ assessment process, which included a youth interview component.  DJJ-HQ Office of Residential Services Programs & Policy Unit team members Pat Wilson (who retired May 29, 2015) and Candace Seifert (who participated in the survey process in every program in the state) were the leads in this year’s project.  Meg Bates and Vanessa Wicker also participated in some of the visits. 

Teams were comprised of staff from the Office of Residential Services-HQ and the Office of Monitoring and Quality Improvement.  In each program, two teams of two DJJ staff members conducted the youth interviews, at the same time but in different rooms within the facility.  Each team consisted of a program monitor and a residential headquarters staff member. 

The teams completed face-to-face surveys of approximately 30 percent of all youths in every residential facility and program component, which means that the teams interviewed approximately 600 boys throughout the state.   Each boy was asked the same set of questions.  Those questions addressed their feelings of safety in the program, access to grievance and abuse call resources, how they feel about staff, their involvement in their performance plan, learning things that will help them when they return home, what they felt were the best things about the program, and what things about the program they would change.  The information will be compiled into a report noting what the youth said on these various topics. 

Last week, the teams concluded this year’s project at the final six facility sites:

  • Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility (G4S Youth Services, LLC);
  • Gulf Academy (G4S);
  • Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program / Hastings Substance Abuse Program (G4S);
  • St. Johns Juvenile Correctional Facility (Youth Services International, Inc.);
  • Duval Academy (YSI); and
  • Jacksonville Youth Academy (G4S).

Many thanks go to the following staff members who assisted in the Annual Youth Survey Project this year:

  • Northwest Residential Operations—Dwight Poole;
  • North Shared Services—Kathy Parrish, Patrick McKinstry, Lea Herring, James K. Phillips, Janet Hampton, Mike Marino, Gwen Nelson, Kevin Greaney, and Paul McIntyre;
  • Central Residential Operations—Monica Webb;
  • Central Shared Services—Donna Connors, Paul Sheffer, Scott Luciano, David Bassler, Vernon Pryer, and Glen Garvey; and
  • South Shared Services—Keith Bennis, Odilanda Brito, Sharon Coplin, Paula Friedrich, Mary Johnson, Thomas Mahoney, and Gabriel Medina.

Many thanks also go to the team in the Office of Research & Data Integrity-HQ who will be compiling the survey results into a report that will provide the Office of Residential Services with a snapshot of youth responses.

Last month, the residents of Pompano Youth Treatment Center (PYTC), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., attended a career day at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, a DoubleTree by Hilton.  The young men dressed in business attire and learned about careers in hospitality, culinary arts, and hotel security. 

They had a tour of the property and enjoyed a special lunch.  The young men also participated in mock interviews with members from the various departments in Hilton corporate operations, gaining valuable information that will benefit them in the future.  They not only learned about the property that they toured, they learned about Hilton’s worldwide corporation and all of the opportunities employment with the company can provide.

The group photo below includes PYTC’s Transition Specialist Tricia Lockhart, Youth Counselor Bobby Brayboy, and Dr. Sylvia Poitier (Broward County Schools).

In April, five residents of PYTC along with Group Leader Mr. Darby and Case Manager Ms. Dollard volunteered at the St. Laurence Chapel Homeless Day Shelter in Pompano Beach.  During this community service project, the youth toured the facility and learned about the history of the organization, including the various services offered to those in need.  Afterward, the youth and staff served lunch to the patrons. 

Also in April, PYTC hosted a graduation ceremony for three young men who earned their high school diplomas by successfully passing the GED®.  These youth worked very hard to achieve this goal and one youth graduated with honors!