DJJ and CASA: Supporting Youth in District Ten DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  
DJJ and CASA: Supporting Youth in District Ten

Story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike

Swearing-in ceremonies for volunteers for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Thomasville, Georgia included many DJJ employees from the Thomas Community Services Office (Thomas CSO). The CASA Kids Program trained the community graduates in helping foster children and to provide the training needed to work within the child welfare and juvenile court systems. As part of the graduation, Diane Davis was sworn in as an Officer of the Juvenile Court by the Honorable Stephen H. Andrews, Juvenile Court Judge. District Ten welcomes Ms. Davis to the CASA Kids Program and looks forward to working with her in this important endeavor.

Diane Davis, CASA volunteer and Asun Ellis, CASA Executive Director

The CASA Program is part of the Family Enrichment Group, Inc., a non-profit organization serving the Southern Judicial Circuit of Georgia and dedicated to providing child advocacy for families involved in the court systems. Family Enrichment Group, Inc. serves Brooks and Thomas Counties and has three programs:

  • CASA Kids has as its main purpose the ability to provide trained, screened and supervised volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in Juvenile Court deprivation proceedings.

  • The Family Support Program promotes permanency for children involved in Juvenile Court deprivation proceedings who are in an adoptive placement, or placed in the custody or guardianship of a non-parent custodian as an alternative to foster care.

  • The Court Connection Program provides lay guardian ad litem services to children in Superior Court.

  • The mission of CASA and the Family Support Program is to empower the communities of South Georgia by providing child advocacy and services to the families of the children referred to their programs.

    Leading the efforts of the Family Enrichment Group, Inc. with both a great passion and vision for eighteen years is Executive Director Asuncion "Asun" Ellis. Ms. Ellis became the Executive Director of Thomas County CASA in January, 1994 and, during her tenure, the Thomas County CASA, Inc. became Family Enrichment Group, Inc. on July 1, 2011. As Executive Director of Family Enrichment Group, Inc., Ms. Ellis' duties include supervising, training and evaluating staff and responsible for program management, development, and evaluation. She also manages the finances, and prepares statistical and financial reports for the Board, Georgia CASA and National CASA.

    District 10 DJJ staff members (including Laura S. Pike, District Director/District 10, Shalonda Brinson, JPM and Dawn Smith, JPPS III) are committed to participating in Community Events that provide rewarding opportunities for our youth and in providing training to potential CASA volunteer candidates. The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud of the work of CASA and its District Ten leaders.

    Wendy Green, CASA; Judge Stephen H. Andrews; Asun Ellis, Executive Director; Lisa Owens, JPPS II; Dawn Smith, JPPS III; Laura S. Pike, DJJ District Director; Maria Bustle, CASA Advocacy Coordinator; Michelle Poitevint, CASA Advocacy Coordinator





         Introducing the Office of Planning & Preparedness Safety Newsletter DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  
    Introducing the Office of Planning & Preparedness Safety Newsletter

    Are YOU and your family prepared for any emergency situation that may arise during this Winter? Per the National Weather Service, winter weather is coming to Georgia and it has the potential to be significantly dangerous this year.

    The Department of Juvenile Justice wants to make sure that you have the information you need to keep safe during the long winter. With that in mind, the Office of Planning & Preparedness has put together the first edition of the OPP Safety Newsletter. Full of useful articles on how to keep safe during both emergency and normal household situations, the OPP Safety Newsletter also provides you with the detailed web links and background needed to have your action plan in place before problems arise.

    Don’t be caught in the dark when it comes to emergency planning in Georgia. Stay informed by reading the latest edition of the OPP Safety Newsletter TODAY.


         DJJ District Ten: Ringing the Bell for Community Good DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  
    DJJ District Ten: Ringing the Bell for Community Good!

    Story support from District Ten Director Laura Pike

    Recently, several Department of Juvenile Justice District Ten employees from Southwest Georgia made some joyous noise this holiday season as they helped RING THE BELL for the local Salvation Army to raise money for the organization and local charities. District Ten Director Laura S. Pike and members of the Thomas County Community Service Office (Thomas CSO) and High Intensity Team Supervision (Thomas HITS) entertained local shoppers who in turn gave their dollars and coins for this great cause.

    Dawn Smith, JPPS III and Janie Holton, JPPS III/HITs

    Aja Jones, JPPS II; Freddie Robinson, JPPS I/HITs; Laura S. Pike, District Director; Dawn Smith, JPPS III and Janie Holton, JPPS III/HITs

    The Red Kettle Campaign is The Salvation Army's largest fundraiser of the year with 85% of all monies raised going back into the community to feed the hungry, keep people warm during the winter, and help local at-risk youth. The District Ten Team rang specifically on behalf of the Thomasville Kiwanis Club who has been a strong partner to DJJ and whose programs recognize and promote the young people of the area, including DJJ youth.

    Aja Jones, JPPS II; Freddie Robinson, JPPS I/HITs; Laura S. Pike, District Director; Dawn Smith, JPPS III and Janie Holton, JPPS III/HITs

    Working with The Salvation Army and the Thomasville Kiwanis Club provided a great opportunity for DJJ staff to share some fun with other community leaders. For more information on The Salvation Army in Thomasville, visit Details on the Thomasville Kiwanis Club projects are available on Facebook at

    Thomasville Kiwanis Club member Jimmy Clanton and Laura S. Pike, District Director




         Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Honored by Department of Defense for Patriotic Support of Employee Serving in the Georgia National Guard DJJ Staff  at:  12/22/2015  
    Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Honored by Department of Defense for Patriotic Support of Employee Serving in the Georgia National Guard

    Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense volunteer committee, announced recently that Captain Marquis Young, Captain of Security with the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center (Savannah RYDC) was honored with a Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support of its employees serving in the Georgia Army National Guard.

    According to Colonel (USAF Ret) Ed Wexler, ESGR Southeast GA Area Chair, “the Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve. Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.” Captain Young was nominated for being highly supportive of the National Guard by his Reserve Component employee, Specialist Mark Ledford. Ledford currently serves in the 1/169 Aviation Unit, Georgia National Guard in Savannah. Specialist Ledford accompanied his unit on an extended deployment to Afghanistan. Captain Young was recognized because he is always supportive of me when I am required to leave the Youth Detention Center to perform service with the National Guard.”

    Captain Young said that Specialist Ledford is an outstanding employee and even though he is gone occasionally to serve our nation he is a tremendous asset to our staff. I am proud of his service to our country. Also on hand were: CWO 4 Ladson, 1/169th Training Officer and SSG Stehr, Unit Readiness NCO and Specialist Ledford’s Platoon Sergeant. An ESGR Statement of Support was also received by the Youth Detention Center.

    Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense volunteer committee, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR facilitates and promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service by developing and advocating mutually beneficial initiatives, recognizing outstanding employer support, increasing awareness of applicable laws and policies, resolving potential conflicts between employers and their service members, and acting as the employers’ principal advocate within the Department of Defense. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.





         DJJ and the Emanuel Project: National Contest Winners...and More! DJJ Staff  at:  12/8/2015  
    DJJ and the Emanuel Project: National Contest Winners....and More!

    Recently, the Emanuel Project hosted its 2nd Annual National Art Contest and youth from the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice were front and center in displaying their talent to a country-wide audience. From the more than 130 entries submitted from 24 facilities in 13 states, youth from the Department of Juvenile Justice came in Second Place in the Mixed Media Division (Bernardo from Cordele, Georgia) and in Third Place in the Pencil Division (Aye from Columbus, Georgia).

    The Emanuel Project is a visual arts program for at risk youth with current concentration on incarcerated youth. The project was initiated in response to the need to engage incarcerated youth between the ages of 12-21 in their curriculum, and to decrease behavioral incidents while increasing their self-esteem. The Emanuel Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to reaching incarcerated youth, through research based curriculum and instruction, incentive programs, art therapy and vocational programs. By utilizing the tools in each of these areas, students, instructors and facilities as a whole benefit.

    Second Place Mixed Media Division - Artwork: True Art -- Artist: Bernardo, Cordele, Georgia

    Third Place Pencil Division - Artwork: Mom -- Artist: Aye, Columbus, Georgia


    In addition to their participation in the Emanuel Project National Art Contest, DJJ youth are also expressing their artistic selves via classes at the Crisp RYDC, Muscogee YDC, and Eastman RYDC. Below are some of the recent work produced by the classes held at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

    The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank Nora Carter and the rest of the Emanuel Project Team for their hard work and dedication to expanding the visual arts in Georgia. For more information about the Emanuel Project, visit them on the web at A list of all of the National Art Contest finalists along with their work can be viewed at




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