DJJ and the State Financial Management Certificate Program: Primary Accounting Series Graduation Ceremony DJJ Staff  at:  8/21/2015  

DJJ and the State Financial Management Certificate Program: Primary Accounting Series Graduation Ceremony

On August 20th, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government held a Graduation Ceremony at the Empire Room of the Sloppy Floyd building in Downtown Atlanta for state employees who passed the Primary Accounting Series of the State Financial Management Certificate Program. Department of Juvenile Justice Chief Financial Officer Sonja Allen-Smith was in attendance as DJJ proudly graduated four employees from this prestigious and vigorous training: Sonya Gordon, LaTonya Richardson, Ashley Baker, and Christopher Lampley.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government Primary Governmental Accounting Series assists employees in gaining a better understanding of how to apply Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to transactions and events that occur in a government setting. The series consists of three classes which include Introductory Governmental Accounting I, II, and Intermediate Governmental Accounting. Both introductory classes are designed for governmental accounting paraprofessionals and accountants. The Intermediary class is designed for accountants and senior level financial management personnel.

As participants progress through the courses, they learn increasingly complex accounting principles and concepts. At the conclusion of each class, participants must successfully complete an examination with a score of at least 70%. Individuals who attend and successfully complete all three courses receive a certificate and are recognized in a graduation ceremony such as the one held on August 20th.

For more than 85 years, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government has worked with public officials throughout Georgia and around the world to improve governance and people's lives. From Georgia's early days as a largely agrarian state with a modest population to its modern-day status as a national and international force in business, industry, and politics with a population of almost 10 million, the Institute has helped government leaders navigate change and forge strong directions for a better Georgia.

DJJ Graduates Ashley Baker and Christopher Lampley. Not pictured Sonya Gordon and Latonya Richardson

Congratulations once again to all of the Department of Juvenile Justice graduates.





     Juvenile Reentry Taskforce Meeting: August 2015 DJJ Staff  at:  8/20/2015  

Juvenile Reentry Taskforce Meeting: August 2015

Story information from Reentry Services Director Keith Jones

On August 11th, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Office of Reentry Services (ORS) held its quarterly Reentry Taskforce Meeting. Held at the Atlanta Technical College, over seventy-three members of the Taskforce attended the meeting representing over forty-one agencies (26 private/community and 15 state agencies). During the meeting, eight new Taskforce members were added.

Highlights from the Reentry Taskforce Meeting included a governance update by ORS Director B. Keith Jones and a strategic planning update from ORS Strategic Planning and Implementation Director AJ Sabree. Subgroup updates were presented on subjects ranging from Leisure Time, Education and Schooling, Vocational Training, Family and Living Arrangements, Peer Groups and Friends, and Physical and Behavioral matters.

Leisure Time, Recreation, and Avocational Interests presenters Coach Darrell Steele and Jean Hudley discussed a recently survey created by their subgroup distributed to youth in long-term facilities and under probation supervision. The goals of the survey was to gain insight into the leisure interests of youth under supervision with the hope of increasing participation in active and productive prosocial structured activities.

Adrian Neely, member of the Education and Schooling subgroup, shared with the Taskforce news about six upcoming projects: DJJ Success Stories, School System Engagement, Conference Opportunties, and YDC/RYDC Career Fairs.

The Vocational Training and Employment subgroup are working on increasing the use of the Federal Bonding program. This program reduces the risk of employers who have reservations hiring youth who have been in secure confinement. In the event of theft or financial loss, this bonding program protects employers.

The Family and Living Arrangements subgroup led by Ronald Pounds is working diligently to increase housing opportunities in the area of integrated residential placement. The group is also continuing to survey the number of youth by DJJ region and district that need residential placment options based on their Transitional Action Plan.

The Peer Groups and Friends subgroup led by Johnny Brown and Monique Brandenburg has been researching evidence-based mentoring models to address external barrier DJJ youth face when returning to their communities. One of the goals for the subgroup is to identify and develop an evidence based training model for volunteer mentors.



Dr. Michelle Staples-Horne and the Physical and Behaviorial subgroup is responsible for providing supports for DJJ youth as they transition from a facility or residential program to the community. The Physical and Behavioral Health Reentry Planning Pathway Logic Model developed by Funmi Adesesan outlines the flow of health care delivery to DJJ Youth at all points along the continuum of care.



At the end of the meeting, ORS Assistant Director Cathy Smith-Curry thanked all of the attendees and reaffirmed to the goal of "Build locally and think globally". For more information on the how to participate with the Taskforce, contact Ms. Andre' Cheek, ORS Outreach Unit Coordinator, at 404-491-6105. For more information on the Reentry Services Unit, visit them on the web at








     First Lady Sandra Deal at the Cherokee Count Juvenile Court DJJ Staff  at:  8/19/2015  

First Lady Sandra Deal at the Cherokee County Juvenile Court

Story information from Joe Vignati and Jessica Lindley of the Cherokee Tribune

This Monday, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal was the special guest as the Cherokee County Juvenile Court celebrated the success of a recently awarded statewide Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant used to help local youth avoid Department of Juvenile Justice commitment and confinement. As a result of being awarded this special grant, between July 2014 and June of this year, Cherokee County was able to reduce the number of children removed from their homes and communities by twenty percent.

The Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant gives communities incentives to offer judges more non-confinement sentencing options. Among the possible options now available for judges to use in their courtrooms to help youth include the ability to offer substance abuse treatment or family counseling. By doing so, judges are helping to reduce recidivism for low-risk offenders.

Governor Nathan Deal in 2013 signed House Bill 242, the Juvenile Justice Reform Bill, which is dramatically improving the lives of Georgia youth within the justice system. As part of House Bill 24, five million dollars was allocated for the purpose of creating effective community programs to serve youth who are being committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice or sent to short-term programs as a sanction.

House Bill 242 also allows judges to take into account both the severity of the offence committed by youth and the risk of the individual youth when deciding the fate of juveniles. By focusing more time and resources on high-risk and dangerous offenders, judges are able to better measure risk and results properly to keep as many of our juveniles out of detention centers and prisions.

Juvenile Court Judge John Sumner is seeing the positive effects the Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant and House Bill 242 are having in Cherokee County.

"Many of the youth that we see are on the fence (on being able to have productive lives or not). There is a lot of stress on families and a lot of challenges to overcome. We want to hold the youth accountable, but we also want to help them."

First Lady Deal also echoed the belief that the incentive grants and reform are making a big difference in the lives of many youth.

"I know that teens make bad choices, but we have to help these young people so they can go on with their lives. Our young people have to have a dream; they have to have a focus. My solution has always been to help get them a good education."

The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank First Lady Deal, Cherokee County Juvenile Court Judges John B. Sumner and Anthony Baker, and Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Director Jacqueline Bunn for attending the ceremony in Cherokee County.





     Views from the 2015 Georgia Mental Health Symposium DJJ Staff  at:  8/13/2015  

Views from the 2015 Georgia Mental Health Symposium

Story by Dr. Christine Doyle, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Services

On Tuesday, August 11, 2015, the Trauma-Informed Diversion Symposium was held at the Georgia Public Safety Training Academy in Forsyth, Georgia. The Symposium, which was developed as part of the MacArthur Foundation-funded partnership of DJJ and the Fulton County Juvenile Court, featured national experts in the area of trauma and juvenile justice. In addition, there was a presentation on a Fulton County diversion pilot and panel discussion of the development of the pilot.

Photo: Dr. Keith Cruise (left), Dr. Christine Doyle, DJJ Director of Behavioral Health (center), Dr. Damion Grasso (right)

Dr. Keith Cruise, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Fordham University and a core faculty member of the
Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice (an NCTSN technical assistance center located at the university), opened the event. Dr. Cruise discussed trauma exposure in juvenile justice-involved youth and the ways in which traumatic experiences can drive behavior that is often thought of as conduct disordered. He emphasized the importance of appropriate screening and assessment, and of developing service plans that connected the youth to appropriate services based on the assessments.

Dr. Cruise was followed by Dr. Damion Grasso, who is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the
University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Grasso discussed the importance of selecting appropriate screening tools for use with a juvenile justice population, and went into detail on the core components of such screenings. He also emphasized the importance of utilizing the results to drive appropriate service selection for youth.

Drs. Cruise and Grasso also participated in a question and answer session. They indicated that they were impressed with the quality and thoughtfulness of the questions.

Adolphus Graves, Chief Probation Officer for the Fulton County Juvenile Court, presented an overview of the Fulton County Diversion Pilot program. And, members of the MacArthur Foundation team participated in a panel discussion elaborating on the collaborative process by which the Fulton County Diversion Pilot project was developed.

The Office of Behaviorial Health Services would like to thank all of the participants and attendees for this year's Trauma-Informed Diversion Symposium.






     Governor and First Lady Deal Visit Hall County Court Services Office DJJ Staff  at:  8/13/2015  

Governor and First Lady Deal Visit Hall County Court Services Office

The Department of Juvenile Justice was recently honored with a visit to the Hall County Court Services Office (CSO)by Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal. DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles was proud to host the dignitaries, Hall County CSO staff, and local youth associated with juvenile supervision.


The Hall County Court Services Office visit was part of First Lady Sandra Deal's commitment to improving the life skills of Georgia youth. Her visit marked the introduction of a new program for Hall County called "Tastefully Growing Up". Created by Connie Davis, "Tastefully Growing Up" is designed to familiarize young women with lifetime skills such as self-esteem, dining, and social etiquette.

The "Growing Up” program provides learning opportunities that teach young girls “the better they feel about themselves, the better they can maintain a successful lifestyle.” The program goal is to empower DJJ youth with lifetime skills to become more productive citizens who better society.

Governor Nathan Deal's appearance at the event was a welcomed surprise for all the attendees. Speaking from the heart to the youth in the crowd, Governor Deal told an emotional story about a recent appointee of his to the courts was amazed that "a little girl from the Athens streets could grow up to be a judge" affirming a positive message that anything is possible in life with hard work and dedication.

DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles also spoke about the nature of juvenile justice reform and how local programs such as "Tastefully Growing Up" will positively impact youth throughout Georgia. By keeping young offenders in their home communities, more people are engaged in the process of helping youth stay on the right track for today and the future.

The Department of Juvenile Justice thanks District Director Todd Bently and the entire Hall County Court Services Office for their hospitality in hosting this event. Special thanks also goes to DFCS Director Katie Jo Ballard for her attendence and support of this and other programs as part of "Great Start Georgia".







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