DJJ Office of Human Resources: DOAS Human Resources Administration Commissioner's Award
The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to announce that its Office of Human Resources recently received the coveted Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) Human Resources Administration Commissioner's Award. Recognized as an overall model agency for Georgia, the DJJ Office of Human Resources was honored for its outstanding performance during the FY2016 Human Resources Audit.
The DOAS Award Ceremony was held on March 31st at the Sloppy Floyd Government Center next to the Georgia State Capitol. DJJ Office of Human Resources Director Nadine Crocker was presented the DOAS Human Resources Commissioner's Award by State of Georgia Chief Operations Officer David Werner. Both DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles and DJJ Chief of Staff Mark Sexton were on hand to support the agency and the Office of Human Resources.
As part of the Rescue-2-Restore National Support Service Education Grant, the youth at DJJ’s Macon Youth Development Campus (YDC) have launched an Animal Cruelty Prevention Campaign to raise public awareness about the problem of animal abuse in Georgia. As part of this campaign, the Macon YDC girls designed a specialty t-shirt to fund education efforts and directly save local animals from danger.
T-shirts cost $20 each and all proceeds benefit the Pet Buddies Food Pantry, a volunteer animal outreach pet program that provides services such as: • Educating families about responsible pet care • Signing-up pets for free spay and neutering • Donating free leashes and collars • Donating free medicine and pet food • Building dog fencing, supplying dog housing, and buying wheat straw during winter months
To buy a shirt to help the Macon YDC Animal Cruelty Prevention Campaign, click on:
To learn more about Pet Buddies Food Pantry, visit them at http://www.petbuddiesfoodpantry.org/ . Details about the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Rescue-2-Restore program can be found at http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/rescue2restore/ .
Congratulations to Racquel Watson -- Selected Central Office Employee of the Month for April 2016!
The Employee of the Month Nomination Committee has selected Residential & Aftercare Services Manager 1 Racquel Watson as the April 2016 Central Office Employee of the Month. Ms. Watson represents the Agency on interagency committees, builds relationships with vendors and partners who provide placement and wrap around services to youth, leads the team of regional and residential placement specialists, and is providing pivotal guidance in the agency’s efforts to improve the Step‐Down program. Ms. Watson manages these several demanding responsibilities with a professional demeanor, expertise, and responsiveness that is consistent and impressive. As the Division of Community Services continues to move forward with several key projects, Ms. Watson’s organizational skills and experience have proven to be imperative to success, and we are grateful for her strong managerial and operational contributions to the Division.
Since becoming the lead manager for the Division of Community Services’ residential and aftercare services, Ms. Watson’s scope of responsibilities has grown as well as the scope of responsibilities for those under her direct supervision. Ms. Watson continues to enhance youth services and care by developing a strong working relationship with current services providers and regularly seeking out potential providers to meet agency needs. Ms. Watson plays a critical role on several state agency committees, representing the agency and enhancing collaborative relationships with such agencies as the Georgia Department of Human Services, the Department of Family and Children Services, and the Office of Residential Child Care‐Regulatory Services. She also sits as the Division of Community Services’ representative on the DJJ Reentry Oversight Committee.
We thank Ms. Watson for her energy, professionalism, and dedication to our youth and the agency. Congratulations Ms. Watson on a job well done!
The Employee of the Month Committee
NOMINATION PROCESS DJJ’s Employee of the Month Recognition Program – How Nominees Are Selected
Beginning January 2015, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice kicks-off its first “Employee of the Month” program for Central Office employees. Names of nominees are selected by the DJJ Executive Team from members of their units or divisions and submitted to be recognized as the Central Office Employee of the Month. Included with the nomination is a one page write-up detailing why the staff member should be given consideration to be selected Employee of the Month.
Then each month, the Nomination Committee makes their selection for the employee to receive public appreciation the following month. The written nomination is reviewed and signed by Commissioner Avery D. Niles and posted for public recognition on the DJJ “News & Views” website. Each nominee selected by the committee will be recognized at a monthly DJJ Board Meeting and entitled to use the Employee of the Month parking space reserved at Central Office.
The DJJ Central Office Employee of the Month award is intended to recognize and support those stand-out DJJ team members who bring additional motivation, determination and vigor to the workplace through their personal ethics, advocacy, positive attitudes and innovative solutions to impact the professional challenges faced by their dedicated colleagues and the troubled youth they serve.
Photos from the Augusta Educational Transition Center Grand Opening
Students expelled from traditional schools around the Augusta area now have another opportunity to learn at an innovative new “Transitional” center. Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles is pleased to announce DJJ has opened its third Regional Education Transitional Center to help keep Georgia kids in classrooms.
The Georgia Preparatory Academy developed this new Education Transitional Center concept, called ‘ETC’ for short, while working on academic advancements for Juvenile Justice Reforms. Richmond County youth who have been suspended or expelled or can no longer pursue their educations in traditional public school settings began attending ETC classes in Augusta this week.
“At DJJ we realize it is counter-productive to Juvenile Justice Reform when our youth have no way available to earn their high school diploma or GED,” said Commissioner Niles. “Under DJJ supervision, the new ETC can provide local youth with opportunities to continue their educations and earn course credits outside of their former public school classrooms.”
The Commissioner said the Augusta ETC program now joins the Macon - Bibb County and Savannah – Chatham County ETC locations established by DJJ last year to align with Governor Deals’ vision to develop a consistent plan of action to reduce juvenile recidivism.
Dr. Audrey Armistad is Associate School Superintendent of the Georgia Preparatory Academy which is dually accredited as the state’s 181st school system. The Academy evaluates which young offenders at DJJ have compiled enough credits to obtain a diploma. Dr. Armistad said classroom innovations like DJJ’s Education Transitional Centers help meet the modern quality academic needs of expelled Georgia students and will assist them to achieve their educational goals.
Each site will begin by serving up to 20 youth. “Sometimes we will encounter 16 or 17-year-olds who are still reading on a second or third grade level,” Dr. Armistad said. “Our challenge is to bring these students back up to where they need to be,” Armistad said.
Dr. Armistad emphasized the importance of reaching troubled teens while there is still time. “This will be an awesome opportunity for families in the Augusta area,” Armistad said. “Kids in the community who aren’t in school will have another opportunity to earn their diplomas or GEDs.”
Dr. Armistad said parents, families, schools and communities working together can create meaningful partnerships which ultimately lead to significant across-the-board gains in student achievement. The official opening of the DJJ Education Transitional Center in Augusta drew positive reactions from Richmond County Juvenile Court Judge Jennifer McKenzie; Toombs Judicial Circuit Court Public Defender Caryn Lobdell; Guardian Ad Litem Jane Dansie, and many other local stakeholders from the 2015 DJJ Augusta Citizens Academy. “I commend DJJ for the role they play in the lives of the students,” said City of Waynesboro Mayor Pauline Jenkins after touring the Center. “The resources that have been put in place for our young people to become productive and responsible citizens will be a great asset for the entire community.”
Chief Assistant Public Defender Sara Meyers at the Toombs Judicial Circuit was excited to see the new ETC program ready to meet the needs of Augusta’s troubled youth. “Having an education is a key to success and it is comforting to know that the ETC is providing that education to troubled students that have the desire to get an education,” said Meyers. “The leaders there are striving to make this a community effort to lead the students to a bright future.”
Several stakeholders shared the view that programs like ETC could be useful to communities with a need to help keep youth with similar education problems from becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system. “I think it can really help these children that we’ve processed out because when they are not in school they have a tendency to reoffend and this program could reduce that,” said Superior Court Chief Judge William Woodrum, Jr.
Chief Judge William Woodrum, Jr. of the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit was impressed with the way Augusta’s new Education Transitional Center makes troubled youth place a value on their education. “The program looks like it is set up to be able to impress upon them that they will need to take some responsibility for their education,” Chief Judge Woodrum said. “It can be frustrating to the court to not be able to place the children in an educational setting when they are released and this program provides a good solution to that.”
Regional Education Transition Centers will be staffed with current DJJ teachers and housed in local Community Court Services offices throughout Georgia based on areas identified with the most critical needs. Each Regional Education Transition Center will provide: • An education setting for instruction from highly-qualified DJJ teachers. • A place and transition period for youth before they reenter public school districts.
• Educational instruction to strengthen cognitive levels in reading and math. • An alternative educational setting for youth to recover credits needed for diplomas. • Opportunities for vocational training, career exploratory programs and planning for post-secondary options and employment.
“Don’t let this opportunity die,” said Commissioner Avery Niles. “Make sure hope happens. We hope to grow it and expand it.” Niles said. “There was a void in their lives and now that void can be filled with opportunity.”
The Georgia Preparatory Academy is moving ahead with plans for suspended or expelled students to one day be able to enroll in one of DJJ’s new Education Transitional Center locations in Fulton and Muscogee Counties. DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles says, “The goal of this agency is to ensure that each student is in a better place with their education when they leave here, than they were when they arrived.”
Story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike
Recently, several members of the Thomasville Kiwanis Club including DJJ District Ten Director Laura Pike, attended the Thomas County Central High School (TCCHS) Key Club monthly meeting. The Key Club for TCCHS is a student-led organization which provides its members with opportunities to provide service, build character and develop leadership. District Ten is interested in the Key Club at TCCHS due to the participation in the club of many DJJ youth.
For the most recent TCCHS Key Club meeting, raffle tickets were sold as part of a fundraiser for the organization. A Samick Greg Bennett design guitar was the top prize and District Director Pike was the lucky winner and was presented the guitar by TCCHS Key Club president Dawayne Harrell.
Key Club International is the high school organization sponsored by Kiwanis International. Key Club assists Kiwanis in carrying out its mission to serve the children of the world. High school student members of Key Club perform acts of service in their communities, such as cleaning up parks, collecting clothing and organizing food drives. They also learn leadership skills by running meetings, planning projects and holding elected leadership positions at the club, district and international levels.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud of the efforts of the Thomas County Central High School students in participating in Key Club volunteer activities. To learn more about the Key Club, visit http://www.keyclub.org/.
Charles Evans; Lisa Williams; Laura S. Pike; Dawayne Harrell, Key Club President; Haley Bryan, Key Club Secretary
Dawayne Harrell, President
Laura S. Pike, Dawayne Harrell, Key Club President, Amy Ponder, TCCHS teacher