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Secretary's Message

August 15, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Every week, our agency’s weekly letter includes stories of DJJ staff and stakeholders working to transform the lives of Florida’s youth. This week, I am especially grateful for the kindness and compassion displayed by our DJJ staff and want to take a moment to share how incredibly proud I am to be a part of such a dedicated team of people. Whether it be hosting an appreciation breakfast for fellow employees, donating time and resources to help prepare kids to return to school, or serving as an advocate for children in the dependency system, DJJ staff members never cease to amaze me by how much they give of themselves to make all our lives better every day. Your thoughtfulness and hard work does not go unnoticed and I want to thank you for your commitment to our agency and to our state.

 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


Juvenile Justice Circuit 2 Advisory Board Hosts Meeting at DJJ Headquarters

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to welcome juvenile justice circuit advisory board (CAB) members from Circuit 2 as they held their meeting at DJJ headquarters. I was able to thank the CAB members for their service and spoke of strengthening our relationships and developing effective partnerships to better help our area’s young people and families. The circuit advisory boards and their members serve as community advisors to DJJ and work closely with agency staff to plan for services that meet the identified needs of juveniles and families within the local community.

Circuit 2 CAB Chair Donnie Read, discussed face to face visits that he, DJJ Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, DJJ Prevention Policy Chief Marcus Smith and other DJJ staff conducted in Circuit 2 counties to promote CAB support.

Pictured above: Deputy Secretary Niermann and Assistant Secretary Sims

Pastor Ernie Sims, Faith Representative for the Circuit 2 CAB, and Tony Read, Executive Director of Project Connect, discussed a joint initiative they have launched called One Voice, that aims to recruit faith-based volunteer mentors to serve youth. To date, they reported, more than 30 mentors have been enlisted.

DJJ Procurement Manager Brent Musgrove provided an update on contracts and procurement practices. Also attending were Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann, Assistant Secretary Sims, Policy Chief Marcus Smith; and Circuit 2 Assistant Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper.

Chief Audrey Smith with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s Department of Youth Services stated that deputies and staff at the sheriff’s office were preparing for the school year. Chief Smith said she is looking forward to new partnership opportunities with CAB members.

Pictured above: Tony Read (left) and Pastor Ernie Sims.




Leon County State Employees Recognized for their Service to Florida

On Monday, Deputy Secretary Niermann and I attended the State Employees of Leon County Service Recognition Ceremony hosted by Governor Rick Scott at the Florida Capitol. The ceremony was designed to recognize and honor those state employees in Leon County with at least fifteen years of service.

It was honor to be on hand to support the thirteen DJJ employees who were recognized by Governor Scott, including: Dodie Garye, Joan Muller, Fontella Browning, Katrina Youman, Amy Johnson, Brett Ross, Michael Yu, Luis Cibrian, William Alexander, Julie Miller, Sandra Moten, Larry O’Steen and Olu Oyewole. I would like to thank you all for your many dedicated years of service to our state. 


Staff Announcement and Kudos 

Congratulations to Brett Ross from the Bureau of Information Technology for her recent graduation from the Florida Certified Public Manager (CPM) program. The CPM program is a nationally-recognized program for training and developing public managers and supervisors. ­ ­ 

Pictured above (from left to right): Olu Oyewole, Brett Ross, and Ben Green, Director of the Florida Center for Public Management. 



Detention Facility Holds Grief Counseling for Youth

Our thanks to Sun Coast Kids Place in Pasco County who has been providing grief counseling to the youth at the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). Each week, Sun Coast hosts a “Grief Group” at the facility and engage with youth who have suffered a loss. The counseling includes interactive groups designed to promote healing and closure. In the pictures shown here, the Grief Group painted memory rocks to honor those loved ones who were lost. 



Also at Pasco RJDC DMHA Jeff Smialek, facility Chaplain Buchanan and volunteers ToddPatterson, Pastor Mike Holmes and his wife Anna have been working feverishly to create a new garden at the facility. The group has already planted eggplants, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and beans and are hopeful that the fruits of their harvest can be used in meals for the youth at the facility.









Finally, the Pasco RJDC comes together each month to hold a birthday celebration for both youth and staff who celebrate birthdays. Last week, the facility held a ceremony for those celebrating August birthdays. The kitchen staff at Pasco made cupcakes in the shape of an ice cream cone as the staff and youth celebrated with a cake and ice cream party. Everyone who attended really enjoyed themselves and look forward to next month’s birthday celebration. 








The Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) would like to recognize their wonderful education team, including science teacher Ms. Raith who is better known to the youth at Pinellas RJDC as “Ms. Feet.” Ms. Feet continues to find opportunities to expose the wonderful world of science to the youth at the facility. The photos below are of Ms. Feet’s latest science feat, having the students work through the engineering design process to plan, build, and test a car powered by balloons.

In addition, she has decorated the Pinellas RJDC classrooms with her signature neon colorful art projects, which were completed by the youth at Pinellas. Like many of our teachers, Ms. Feet finds ways for each youth to reach their education level and encourages all of them to reach their full potential. 




The administration team from the Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently surprised their detention officers with a breakfast in appreciation of all their hard work. The breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon, grits, sausage and fruit juice. All of the officers who attended felt very appreciative.










Earlier this month, the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed the volunteer group Soul Flowers to the facility. The Soul Flowers, led by Sephora Saint Pierre from Florida Gulf Coast University, consisted of ten college students who spoke with the youth and also helped to beautify the facility by adding some new paint around the halls. The Soul Flowers hope to return once a month to volunteer at Southwest RJDC and work with both the boys and girls. 


Staff from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center teamed up with Daytona Beach Leisure Services to host a field day for youth at the facility. David Steward from Leisure Services organized several different stations for athletic skill development. After the field day, the youth were treated to an old-fashioned picnic which included hot dogs, baked beans and watermelon.





Prevention Employee Sworn in as Guardian Ad Litem 

Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard was recently sworn as a volunteer by Honorable Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom during the Guardian ad Litem swearing-in ceremony at the Leon County Courthouse. Serving Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties in northwest Florida, the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program is part of a statewide coalition of community advocates and professional staff providing a powerful voice on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children.

The GAL mission is simple: advocating for the child's best interest is their only interest.  With the support of individuals, businesses and organizations in the community, the GAL program:

  • recruits attorneys and non-lawyers to serve as guardian ad litem advocates who protect the rights of and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a dependency court proceeding;
  • ensures the immediate financial, health, educational and social needs are being met; and
  • hosts a variety of community outreach to promote awareness.

If you would like to become a volunteer for the GAL program, please contact Sara Blumenthal, Volunteer Recruiter at sara.blumenthal@gal.fl.gov.

Pictured left: Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom and Yvonne Woodard


Earlier this month, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson attended the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando’s Community Development Coalition Luncheon in Orlando. The purpose of this luncheon was for community stakeholders to discuss updates and a neighborhood action plan in one local community. Attendees were given the chance to be part of the planning process to help engage, renew, and lead members of the community in assisting families in need.

The goals discussed included creating neighborhood watch programs, building relationships with law enforcement officers, educating the community, making home improvements, and developing volunteer opportunities with local school and faith-based organizations. Attendees provided input on how to complete these goals in the community. 

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization whose vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.


Probation Staff Participate in Back to School and National Night Out Activities 

Probation units from across Circuit 1 participated in National Night Out activities in neighborhoods throughout Pensacola and Milton. These events coincided with other National Night Out activities across the country which raises awareness and addresses crime and drug prevention. Our probation circuits donated hundreds of dollars in school supplies which were then given to children who participated in the event. Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis also gave out candy, which was a big hit with the youth. Santa Rosa County had a great turnout with 628 community members in attendance. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Janet Marconi, SJPO, Sabrinia Wallace-Jordon, JPOS, Lori Jamison, SJPO and Mary Grier, JPOS.


Assistant Chief Probation Officer John Hancock, Reform Specialist Michelle Galloway and Secretary Specialist Jeanette Ryder from Circuit 3 attended the Back to School Bash of Fort White in Columbia County. The event was held at the Fort White Community Center and welcomed over 300 students and their families. Each of the youth in attendance were given a backpack filled with school supplies. Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Tuwuana Rossin donated over 200 dollars in school supplies for this unique event. The bash was a huge success and all the children were excited to start the school year. 


Circuit 19 Probation held two separate back to school events in Indian River and Martin Counties respectively. Unit 101 in Indian River partnered with the Gifford Youth Achievement Center where Juvenile Probation Officer Nathan Peterson helped fill backpacks with school supplies to distribute to the youth in that county.

In addition, Unit 201 in Martin County held their event at the local YMCA. Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson and Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Ann-Marie Campbell spoke at the event which featured vendors, shareholders and community partners who distributed information. Probation staff in both Circuit 19 events did a remarkable job to connect with families in their communities, raise awareness of DJJ initiatives and assist families in need of school supplies.


Youth in Circuit 19 participated in a Hope, Help, Heal, a Community Summit presented by The Morning After Center.  Youth received great information from a dynamic youth motivator, Mr. Hodge, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  He spoke with youth about “thinking like a boss” and having the “mindset for success.”  Youth also received words from State Representative Larry Lee, of District 84, who encouraged youth to have a positive outlook on the upcoming school year. In addition, former County Commissioner Kim Johnson provided the youth with words of encouragement as well. Those in attendance also received free lunch, school supplies and won great prizes.  






I am pleased to share the following letter of appreciation from a parent regarding Juvenile Probation Officer Stacie Bostick and the good job she did in working with her daughter. It reads:

To whom it may concern,

This letter is to let you know what a great job one of your JPO's did. 

My daughter S, was on probation and transferred here from Polk county.  Stacie Bostick was the JPO assigned to my daughter's case.  I know it was a trying time for us and didn't make it easy on Stacy at times.

I have to say that Stacie was always pleasant and never had a bad thing to say about this process.  She worked with S and told her outright what consequences would be if she stepped out of line or violated her probation.  Stacie was able to find us resources we didn't know were available and got S going in the right direction.

S was assigned community service and we didn't know which way to turn to go about fulfilling her service hours.  Stacy gave us a recommendation of who to contact and even though S is now off probation, she is still working with the Give A Day Foundation for volunteer work.

I am sure you get lots of e-mails or calls saying what a terrible system we have or how terrible someone is.  I just wanted to thank your department and Stacie personally for all the help she gave us.

Thank you again


Residential Youth Compete in Basketball Tournament and Host Foreign Exchange Students from Mexico

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and the Gulf Academy, both of which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, had one of the facility’s original staff members, Alma Peeples, retire after 18 years of service. Ms. Peeples was honored for her hard work, dedication, and never ending smile. The kitchen was dedicated as “Peeples’ Place” and a fruit tree will be planted on the facility grounds as a tribute of her service in feeding and loving the youth and staff for nearly two decades. The Hastings and Gulf Academy teams are eternally grateful to Peeples who leaves a legacy. Congratulations and we wish you nothing but blessings and good fortune in your retirement and new adventures.

In addition, Hastings and Gulf Academy held their monthly incentive celebration for all youth who were “violation free” in July. The youth enjoyed all-you-can-eat taco night, by building their own tacos. The 12 honorees were sufficiently stuffed with tacos and had a great time.





Hastings and Gulf Academy have also begun painting all the youths’ doors with black chalk board paint and the youth are given chalk to draw on the doors. This is being done to give the youth more ways to express their positive creativity. The youth have responded well to the doors and are expressing themselves accordingly.




Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, is ready for some football! Ten youth from JYA attended the Jacksonville Jaguars Family Night Live Scrimmage. The JYA youth watched the team’s first contact practice and full scrimmage while touring the newly renovated indoor practice facilities and amphitheater.

Jacksonville Youth Academy also celebrated National Ice Cream Sandwich Day thanks to the JYA morale committee, serving ice cream sandwiches to all the youth and JYA staff.

       








The JYA youth are styling thanks to Johnnie Claridy, who provides haircuts to the youth at the program. Johnnie volunteers his time and talents regularly and his services are greatly appreciated!

     


Members of the Hopewell Church recently stopped by the Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, to speak to the youth. This was the first visit from the church and was their icebreaker visit for everyone. They introduced themselves to the youth and talked with them about their lives. They brought pizza, chips and sodas for the youth and left them with positive words. The youth, staff, and church members are looking forward to the next visit from Hopewell Church.

Eight youth from Duval Academy also had the opportunity to go bowling with members of the Duval Academy Advisory Board. They had a great time and enjoyed the friendly competition. This was the first time that some of the boys had ever been to a bowling alley.


Pictured above: in the blue shirt is Advisory Board member Ms. Jackie Bartletto, In the front row far right is Ms. Herlena Washington, In the white shirt is Ms. Marla Bacon and in the back behind the red and green ball is Mr. Cody Smith.


Saint John’s Youth Academy (SJYA), a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, hosted the first Sequel Basketball Tournament at the Police Athletic League in Green Cove Springs. Four residential commitment programs participated in the event: Marion Youth Academy, Duval Academy, Union Juvenile Residential Facility, and Saint John’s Youth Academy. The teams competed for first, second, and third places. The event was designed with a two-fold purpose in mind: (1) Saint John’s has worked diligently to replace old stigmas and beliefs centered around “youthful corrections and offenders” with a more positive mindset of “Academy,” creating new habits and opportunities; and (2) The young men in these programs all have talents that they were not aware of and when allowed to showcase their talents, it changes their belief system. Union won third place, Marion won second place, and the Saint John’s Eagles claimed first place. Each team did an excellent job!

    










     







With all the behavioral motivated activities that take place, Cypress Creek, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21 which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, would like to recognize our HBI enrolled youth in completing their OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 10 Certification. These residents continue to work hard in school and assist staff on the dorm with other youth.

The above youth worked hard to either pass the GED® or meet their graduation requirements in July. They are also in the transition phase of the program and have taken the first step in being successful once released from the program.


Several young men at Kissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 21, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, participated in the bi-weekly breakfast with the KYA facility director!

The event provided KYA youth with an opportunity to discuss any program issues with the facility director or designated staff over the breakfast of their choice.

Youth must meet some specific criteria to be considered for the breakfast. The criteria includes consistently having their room clean, participating in school, groups and displaying pro-social behavior. In addition to discussing any program related issues, youth have an opportunity to learn assertive communication skills, adaptive social engagement, and to model proper meal etiquette.


Central Pasco Girls Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by TruCore Behavioral Solutions, Youth Advisory Board hosted a nightly incentive called "Pizza Pizazz." Youth were supplied with pizza dough, pizza sauce, pepperoni and other toppings such as pineapple and ham. Each youth personalized their pie and enjoyed their "dough-licious" pizza.






The youth and staff at the Escambia Boys Base, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18 which is operated by AMIkids, Inc, have had a busy summer hosting special guest and events.  Earlier this week, Ms. Bowers and Ms. Barnette from Escambia Boys Base held a fundraiser at Barnes and Noble® bookstore. The event was supported by DJJ as well as community partners including G.L.R Productions LLC, Pensacola Lightning Professional Basketball Team, Omega Lamplighters, and the Escambia County School District. The event raised funds for the Book Club to be able to buy books, electronic readers, and other incentives for the youth. If you want to donate to the book club, please contact Ms. Bowers at EBB-BM@amikids.org.




In addition, EBB partners at the Kiwanis Club hosted a breakfast for the EBB student of the month. He was presented with a certificate of achievement and a $20 gift. The young man maintained positive behaviors and stayed at the top of the C.A.P chart for the past six weeks. He also is working on earning his GED®, is a leader in the program, and shows new residents how to progress in the program by taking advantage of all the opportunities EBB offers.



EBB also started its 7th carpentry class for students last month, which is a 20-week course that is taught at the AMIkids Pensacola Day Treatment Program. The students earn certifications in the CORE curriculum and national certification in carpentry. According to the instructor, Dave Durham, this class is one of best he has had so far. This group will be working on a special project that will give them an opportunity to use all the skills they learn. 



Thanks to sponsorship by Florida High School Hight Tech, EBB residents and staff members competed in the “Kickball for a Cause” tournament. Many thanks go to Monique Fountain who organized this event. Against some stiff competition, EBB tied for third place with a record of 2-1! Team EBB showed heart, determination, and teamwork. They also were featured on WEAR TV3.






Transition Coordinator Devonté Bess also organized the participation of three EBB residents in “Cram the Van.” The residents helped collect and sort the donated school supplies. Local radio station WABB even interviewed some of the residents and asked about the benefits of giving back to the community and how being at EBB has changed their lives.







EBB welcomed foreign exchange students from Mexico last week. During the visit, the EBB youth and guests asked each other questions and helped one another overcome stereotypes. After talking to the EBB residents, the students toured the facility and had a chance to experience the EBB ropes course. These visits help the EBB youth broaden their views about students around the world.