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Secretary's Message

January 31, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children 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 a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all do – on and off the clock – to enrich our 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. 

Sincerely, 

Christina K. Daly


Human Trafficking Update

 

On Tuesday, January 24th Governor Rick Scott along and the Florida Cabinet declared January 2017 as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  As a member of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, I was honored to accept this resolution alongside the Chair of the Statewide Council and member of the Florida Cabinet, Attorney General Pam Bondi. The resolution highlighted that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom and recognized human trafficking as modern-day slavery.  It also commended “law enforcement, local governments, communities and citizens for their support and efforts in combating this modern day slave trade and for remaining vigilant and cognizant of the issues in order to protect citizens and visitors of our great state.” 

I would like to personally thank all of you who work tirelessly on behalf of our victimized youth that are deeply affected by this heinous crime. We have many wonderful staff within our agency that work hard to support our partner agencies on cases, collaborate with their local task forces, advocate on behalf of survivors, train other staff, and work so tirelessly to increase awareness on human trafficking in their community.

At the Cabinet meeting, I also had the honor of awarding the 2016 DJJ Human Trafficking Advocate of the Year Award to Circuit 13 JPOS Jesus Sosa.  JPOS Sosa personally volunteered to serve as the human trafficking liaison for Circuit 13.  He has provided over 30 hours of human trafficking training to staff throughout the state and continuously provides direct assistance on specific cases, such as participating in staffing, connecting youth with services and providing them with clothing and other necessities.  In addition to all the hard work he does within the agency, he also actively participates in his local task force and collaborates with partner agencies and community stakeholders to ensure that we are doing the best we can as an agency to serve each youth.

I commend JPOS Sosa for his hard work and ongoing dedication in addressing human trafficking, not only within DJJ, but within his local community. Thank you JPOS Sosa for making a difference in the lives of countless young people and for your efforts in combatting human trafficking in our state. 


Juvenile Justice Research-to-Practice Implementation Resources 

The Counsel of State Government’s Justice Center recently published the Juvenile Justice Research-to-Practice Implementation Resources, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. These online resources provide juvenile justice agency managers, staff, and other practitioners with concrete strategies, tools, examples, and best-practice models to help them implement research-based policies and practices and improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system.

The resources, organized by common challenges for juvenile justice programs and agencies, draw from the expertise of researchers and the promising practices identified by practitioners around the country. Each resource offers methods to address those common challenges, specifically in the areas of Family Engagement and Involvement and Evidence-Based Programs and Services.


Probation Update

Youth AN, a recent residential program graduate of DOVE Vocational Academy and current Twin Oaks Project Connect client in Circuit 1, successfully achieved her GED.  She is in an independent living program, Children in Crisis, and is currently interviewing as a strong candidate for employment that will help support her further academic endeavors in attending Northwest Florida State College beginning in March. 

Through Project Connect, she received help getting proper identification, completing her financial aid application and enrolling in college, and received trainings related to independent living skills, employability, interviewing skills, and job search assistance. She was self-motivated to volunteer to receive aftercare services through Project Connect outside of her direct probation supervision.  She has whole-heartedly accepted the assistance and made the most of the opportunity.  We salute her courage, celebrate her success, and look forward to watching her grow!         

 


     

Eckerd Kids Project Bridge youth recently attended a mentoring session at Crossroads Corral. Mentor Lindsay Brim provided life skills on overcoming obstacles in order to achieve your goals. Youth were able to visualize that in life, every goal that they set can come with obstacles.  Sometimes goals need to be reassessed if the expectations are too high.  As a team, Eckerd Kids youth worked together to build an obstacle course, then try to get the horse through the obstacle course without any steering or touching. The youth realized that their expectations were too high, and they had to reassess their goals, and were then able to achieve the smaller goal.  They realized no matter what obstacles may come their way, with communication, focus, patience, and teamwork they can overcome any obstacle.  These young men were able to step outside of their comfort zone and displayed true leadership working together. 




Circuit 4 Chief Probation Officer Donna Webb and North Regional Director for Probation Jill Clemens participated in the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition and Task Force Press Conference on January 17 at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

During the press conference, Sheriff Mike Williams highlighted the number of victims rescued and the number of traffickers prosecuted. In addition, State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced the newly formed Human Trafficking Division within her office and announced that CPO Webb has been named Co-Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition. 


Probation staff from Circuit 4 participated in “The Gathering” on January 19, sponsored by the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition and Task Force. The Gathering featured a networking event followed by a program and panel discussion that was designed to highlight prevention, awareness and support for the victims of human trafficking and their families. Probation staff manned an information booth during the networking session. In addition, CPO Donna Webb represented the Coalition and served as one of the six panelists during the discussion. Over 200 law enforcement officers and community members took part in the event.


The Circuit 4 probation office worked with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to schedule a visit from the FLOW Mobile ID van at the probation office in Jacksonville. The FLOW vehicle helped fifteen probationary youth receive their government issued state identification cards. In addition, three adults including a new JPO were able to update their driver’s licenses. The kids were thrilled to receive their new cards and the FLOW vehicle will return to Jacksonville on March 27. I would like to thank JDAI Coordinator Vicki Burke, JPOs Minetricia Monbrun and Johnathon Harden and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George for coordinating this event. 

From left to right: Catherine with the Department of Highway Safety (DHSMV), DJJ staff  Johnathon Harden, Vicki Burke, Minetricia Monbrun, and Deborah and Sandy with the DHSMV.


Probation staff in Circuit 7 participated in four separate human trafficking awareness walks on January 11 in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The event was held by the Circuit 7, Freedom 7 Human Trafficking Task Force and the simultaneous walks entitled “Light the Way, Walk With Me,” were held in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties.

Each event began at 5pm and included the disbursement of anti-human trafficking brochures and posters, as well as wallet sized indicator cards that list the signs of human trafficking and the steps to take if you suspect someone is being trafficked.  Additionally, each participant was provided a blue glow stick and lanyard that was worn to “Light the Way” during walks, which all took place at dusk. Over 250 community partners and citizens participated in the walks. 


Last week marked Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week, and statewide offices held a tornado drill at 10:10 EST on Wednesday. Pictured here is the tornado drill at the Circuit 14 probation office. ACPO Fred Womack announced the drill and staff members reported to the conference room which is located in the center of the building with no windows. Staff followed their Circuits COOP Plan and got under tables to demonstrate how to stay as safe as possible in the event of an actual tornado event. Thank you to our entire team for participating in these important and potentially lifesaving exercises. 





Circuit 18 probation staff participated in the 2nd Annual “Let Freedom Ring” black and white banquet at the First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Sanford on January 21. SJPO Sharon Washington served as the Master of Ceremonies while Circuit Court Judge Susan Stacy was a featured speaker. The event was filled with reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, inspirational music, speakers and conversation.

In the above photo, from left to right; ACPO Omar Bohler, Leesa Bohler, Charlene Greene (former judicial assistant), SJPO Sharon Washington (court liaison), Judge Susan Stacy and JPO Frank Marshall.


Eckerd Kids Project Bridge Program and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium recently partnered together in an effort to inspire and motivate at-risk youth in the program and provide an opportunity for them to showcase their speaking skills.  

During a luncheon on January 20, DJJ staff from three circuits accompanied the youth as they visited the aquarium and spoke about how the Eckerd program has changed their lives. Each youth had the opportunity to give a speech and were also awarded a plaque.



Prevention Update 

The Unity Family Community Center in Williston, a DJJ Prevention provider, hosted the Project Uplift afterschool program and the Just Be You (JBU) mentoring program. On December 20, they began the “Kids Care Project” which partnered with the Williston Rehabilitation & Nursing Center to celebrate the Christmas holidays. The youth at Unity created care packages with special personalized notes for the elderly residents at the facility, sang carols, and spent time with the residents in an effort to spread some holiday cheer.  


Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George accompanied a group of at-risk kids from Lee High School in Jacksonville to a Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 11 at Everbank Field. The tickets were generously donated by the Jaguars and for some of these teens it marked their first experience at a live sporting event. The 10 youth enjoyed themselves and the experience, from partaking in the delicious stadium food to interacting with each other, fans, their teacher, Amy Donofrio, their mentor Jay Harris, and Ms. George. These young men made 2016 a year of new experiences and achieving extraordinary goals.

The teens are part of a group called Evac, which is the word “cave” spelled backwards to indicate the shortened form of the word evacuate.  It’s a darkness to light concept where the youth are focused on evacuating the darkness around them, and becoming a light to lead others out of the darkness. So far, they have met with U.S. district attorneys, state attorneys and other Jacksonville leaders.

In addition, some of the teens were presenters at the White House Coalition for Juvenile Justice National Youth Summit, and also attended the White House Briefing on Juvenile Justice, where they shared their views on racial disparity and other injustices they have experienced in the justice system. The youth also had the honor of meeting with former President Barack Obama. These students have all experienced trauma; one story was so profound that it was featured on the cover of the New York Times.


The Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board in Circuit 2 held their regular quarterly meeting in Tallahassee on January 19. Chair Donnie Read delivered opening remarks, updated attendees on recent events, and commended participants on their efforts to assist local youth.

Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Prevention & Victim Services, welcomed the group to the meeting and thanked them for their collaborative efforts in working together to create new outreach opportunities for area young people. Among the items discussed were: membership, sub-committee engagement, the 2017 calendar, the circuit’s faith & community service event, the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Conference, the community forum at Florida A&M University, and summer and afterschool services.  

In the above, Alice Sims, DJJ Assistant Secretary, Prevention & Victim Services (left) and Erica Puckett, Contract Liaison, BAYS Florida.


Detention Update

The Manatee RJDC recently hosted an equal employment opportunity (EEO) training for staff members at the facility. The training was held by DJJ’s EEO Officer Derrick Elias and was very informative. Superintendent Terry Carter reports that his staff really enjoyed the training and asked many questions of Mr. Elias. Following the training, the RJDC hosted a barbeque for those staff in attendance and handed out several awards. Food Service Worker Robert Greer was named the South Region Employee of the Month for the month of October, Corporal Robert Peterson was presented a plaque for his 30 years of service to the Department, and Corporal Eddie Turner was named South Region Employee of the Month for the month of December.  












The Pinellas RJDC held an all-staff training session last week which focused on red-flag behaviors, women’s health issues, medical procedures, and a variety of other topics. After the training session was over the facility served pastries and refreshments and handed out several awards. Food Services Worker Cristy Harris was recognized as the Employee of the Month for December and Administrative Assistant Jill Jestes was named Employee of the Month for January. Both employees have gone above and beyond and were very deserving of this recognition. 


Residential Update

Residential Providers, Stakeholders, and DJJ Staff Learn about TRACE

On Tues., Jan. 24, 2017, DJJ held a Trauma Responsive and Caring Environment (TRACE) meeting that featured Principal Owner of Youth Trauma and Justice Solutions Monique Marrow, PhD, who is a child clinical psychologist.  Dr. Marrow, working with the Residential Service’s Policy and Programs Unit, developed and presented the TRACE tool for programs to use in conducting self-assessments regarding the implementation of trauma-responsive practices in service delivery.

Office of Residential Services (ORS) Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham was joined by corporate and residential program provider staff from G4S Youth Services, LLC; Rite of Passage; Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC; Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.; and Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC.  In addition, Sandy Neidert, from the Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA), presented information about the OSCA’s work in how courts that deal with children, including dependency, delinquency, and family court, are addressing trauma-responsive practices.  Participating DJJ staff represented ORS, Probation & Community Intervention, and Technical Assistance. 

Special thanks go to ORS Programs & Policy Coordinator Meg Bates, and her staff members Brandi Clevenger, Garrett Tucker, and especially Vanessa Wicker-Reeves who organized the meeting, provided support for Dr. Marrow in preparation of the event and throughout the day, and helped facilitate various aspects of the meeting.  

Dr. Marrow earned her doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from The Ohio State University.  She is a member of the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network and currently serves as an instructional Leader for the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice at the University of Connecticut and is a training specialist for the Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky.  Her focus is on the training and dissemination of trauma-focused interventions for youth in the juvenile justice system or for youth who are at risk of becoming involved in the system.  She works with many boards and committees on the issues.  As a part of her work, Dr. Marrow co-authored a training curriculum titled, “Think Trauma:  A Training for Staff in Juvenile Justice and Residential Settings.”  Not only has Dr. Marrow worked in the mental health area, her juvenile justice experience includes a 12-year career with the Ohio Department of Youth Services where she served as a psychologist, psychology supervisor, and finally as the Deputy Director of Treatment and Rehabilitation Services for the Department.  It was there that she initiated the Department’s first trauma-focused intervention program designed to provide training for staff, treatment programming for youth, and modifications to environments, policies, and practices to ensure consistency with trauma-focused practices.

Last week’s meeting was the culmination of two years of activities that involved Dr. Marrow and DJJ’s Office of Residential Services with the goal of providing the best service to the youth in our care.  Those who participated in the meeting were asked to provide ongoing feedback as we progress in our efforts to implement trauma responsive and caring environments in our residential program and further the principles of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Process.

The meeting incorporated an overview of the “Think Trauma Training” curriculum and small group activities such as the one shown here.  

The TRACE is intended to be a tool that will help providers assess their program's progress in implementing a trauma-responsive approach for youth and staff.  Unlike other tools that may be used to assess a program, the TRACE is a best-practice, inspirational tool and not one that is designed to look at meeting minimum, basic standards.


Last week, AMIkids completed the 2017 Winter Challenge Event in Hudson located in Pasco County, where 14 teams of youth from residential and non-residential programs that are operated by AMIkids gathered at the Word of Life Youth Camp to compete against one another.  Alongside the youth were employees, volunteers, and mentors who cheered for each team that hoped to receive top awards in both academic and sporting events.  The three-day event taught the youth about teamwork, leadership, and to persevere.  

Day one of the challenge was the science fair judging and creative writing segment.  For this segment of the Challenge, students developed projects that included studies of what liquids may stain human teeth, Mnemonics, and electromagnetism.  Once this portion of the day was complete, the challengers then participated in the spelling bee portion of the event.  Towards the end of day, AMIkids Senior Vice President of Operations Heyward Golden (shown right, talking with a competitor) shared a powerful message with the youth that emphasized the importance of having fun and respecting peers for the days ahead.  The evening ended with speeches from the students that included such topics as the individual who most inspired them in life and how they would improve education in the public school system.

Days two and three were filled with track and field, academic quiz bowls, marlinspike, volleyball, broad jump, tug-o-war, and first aid events.  On the evening of the third day, students gathered for an awards banquet and dinner.  The closing ceremonies included encouraging words from AMIkids CEO O.B. Stander, medals, and trophies presented to the winning individuals and teams from each competition.  





Shown right (left to right):  ORS Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Heyward Golden, and South Regional Commitment Chief Michell McCarthy were on hand throughout the event.  


Marion Youth Academy Facility Administrator John Fletcher shared with ORS North Regional Director Billy Starke, Jr., a letter (shown left) from a youth who was recently released from this non-secure program, which serves boys, ages 14 to 19, and is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC.  In his email to Billy, John said, “This is why we do this job.”  The following are the words written by the boy:

I can not explain how thankful I am for everything you’ve done for me.  You have went above and beyond to make sure I’m ok, make sure I change, and make sure I go home to my family in 6 months.  This has been the hardest, most stressful thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life but it has made such a big, positive impact on my life.  You taught me a lot about being a man, not letting petty things get to me, and how to be humble.  Because of you I’ll think before I commit a crime, think about every thing I went through in here.  Like you said I have bigger things to handle, my daughter.  When I graduate I want to invite you.  Thank you Mr. Fletcher…


The residents of the RAM-C (Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged) Program, a non-secure program for boys, ages nine to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., recently attended the Florida State University (FSU) basketball game against Virginia Tech.  The FSU basketball team’s partnership with RAM-C program is beneficial to the residents, providing the boys with opportunities to meet the players and attend games as an incentive reward for those who do well in the program, making academic progress and achieving their overall program goals.  

Shown above are RAM-C youth and staff members.  Holding the letter “O” is School Administrator Nicole Miller; holding the letter “A” is Boys & Girls Club Director Natisha Miller, and Joe Jones is the staff member who is seated at the top right of the section, wearing a blue jacket and cap.

The RAM-C residents also recently participated in the “Law & Your Community Program,” a nationally-recognized hands-on interactive training program designed for young people, ages 13 to 21, which is designed to improve the student’s communication skills when talking with law enforcement officers.  Shown in the photo to the right are RAM-C youth role playing how to respond to an officer when a vehicle is pulled over.  The program also works to increase the youth’s understanding of federal, state, and local laws. 

Afterwards, boys enjoyed lunch at the Golden Corral as a reward for their positive behaviors.  The boys also enjoyed a tour of the FSU campus led by Therapist Ashley Lewis and School Administrator Nicole Miller, who are both FSU graduates. 

Tour stops included Strozier Library, the Student Union, classrooms, a dormitory, the food court, and other important FSU monuments like the Westcott Fountain, Integration Statue and Doak Campbell Stadium.  The boys also received FSU swag, including shirts, backpacks, and sunglasses from the FSU Career Center.  The boys returned to RAM-C and shared all the information that they learned with their peers.


The Palm Beach Youth Academy (PBYA), a high-risk program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, was visited by nationally renowned artist David Anasagasti as part of the 2016 South Florida Art Basel Event.  While on site, the artist talked to the residents about his childhood growing up in South Florida, how he turned to art as a method of creative expression and a means to provide for himself, and how art was a way for him to stay out of trouble.  

David now has had his works featured on a worldwide scale and has been featured in countless art related magazines, TV shows, festivals, etc.  David currently has a gallery in what is known as the Miami’s Wynwood District and is the founder of Wynwood Radio, which is a nationally syndicated radio station out of South Florida with a mission to introduce listeners to new cutting edge music, support local musicians, visual arts, and DJs, and to bring the community together under one domain.  

While speaking to the residents, David told them that they have an open invitation to visit his gallery as his personal guest. 

He also painted some of his famous “watching eyes” in the program’s newly created library.  At a time when artists from all over are coming to South Florida to promote and sell their work, David’s visit was remarkable and we thank him for bringing additional color to the youth and the facility through his artistic creations.  


Another artist—a culinary artist—visited PBYA:  Chef Rodney Goree.  While on site, Chef Goree spoke to the youth about how he transformed his troubled childhood into a successful career in the culinary arts field.  He currently works as the personal chef to New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and a handful of his New York Jets teammates.  In addition to sharing his story with the boys, he gave them an overview of the culinary arts field and the multitudes of opportunities available to them should they choose culinary arts as a career.  The highlight was when he prepared two of the dishes for which he is most well-known:  fresh spring rolls and seafood rolls. 


In addition to hosting artists as guest speakers, PBYA and the School District of Palm Beach County held the program’s mid-year commencement ceremony.  In total there were seven graduates.  Six of the seven students attended the ceremony; the seventh was discharged from the program prior to the event.  All seven students who graduated did so with honors. 

The facility educators were joined by several members of the school district’s leadership team who attended the event, including Dr. Angela Bess who is director of the school district’s Educational Alternatives Program.  

Shown in the group picture is (above) Dr. Angela Bess from the School District of Palm Beach along with Educational Alternatives Assistant Principal Shelia Harvey-Lawrence and Lake Worth Middle School Assistant Principal Jeffrey Neal.

Last week, local yoga instructor, Alex Emmanuel, facilitated a special yoga class for some of the PBYA residents.  Those who participated in the class were there on a voluntary basis.  Prior to the commencement of the one-hour class, the students were given a brief overview about the art of yoga and how many use it to create harmony within their minds, bodies, and souls. 

A total of 16 residents participated in this first-time class.  While many were initially apprehensive and seemed to think it would be something easy to do, it only took a few minutes into the class for those students to acknowledge how physically challenging it was.  By the end of the class, the residents not only expressed how much they enjoyed yoga but they asked Alex how soon he would return to teach another class.

While nothing has been finalized, the program is working with Alex to return and to teach yoga on a regular basis, allowing the PBYA to incorporate the activity into its monthly recreational regimen.  Many thanks go to PBYA Community Liaison Peggy Laguerre for organizing this special visit and the class. 














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