Juvenile Justice Training Latest News


Automated Certification Exam Pilot Beginning in April for Juvenile Probation Officers [March 2016]
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The Juvenile Justice Training Academy has been working diligently over the last six months with the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) and the Regional Training Officers statewide to develop an automated competency exam for applicants seeking certification as a juvenile probation officer. The competency exam is in accordance to Texas Human Resource Code §222.001 and was promulgated to bring an increased level of credibility to the officer’s certification. The requirements are set forth in Texas Administrative Code §344.700. While juvenile probation officers were taking a written exam following the completion of basic training if they attended at Sam Houston State University, the administration of such an exam was not universally administered statewide in departments providing their own training.

Beginning in April 2016, TJJD will be working in partnership with CMIT to pilot an automated competency exam over a five-month period with an overall goal of going live statewide on September 1, 2016 for all newly certified juvenile probation officers. Any current certified juvenile probation officer will be grandfathered from taking the competency exam. The pilot will include anyone who attends basic training at CMIT to become a juvenile probation officer, and it will also be extended to two other urban or large counties. The goal of the pilot is to ensure we have adequately addressed all major issues with the exam up front in order to minimize potential issues in the data or processing of exams. TJJD will also continue to analyze the data to ensure the fidelity and appropriateness of the test questions.

During the pilot program, individuals taking the exam will not be charged a fee for the exam, however, beginning September 1, 2016 there will be a $20 fee imposed for the exam. TJJD will leave the discretion of payment to the hiring authority on how this fee is paid. Options discussed may include: requiring the individual to pay in full; requiring the individual to pay, but getting reimbursed after certain circumstances are met (either passage of test or length of service met, etc.); department may pay using county funds; or department may pay using some method of state funding (to be determined as we get closer to the implementation date).

The exam will be a randomly generated exam of 60 questions and include a minimum number of questions from every mandatory topic. One of the best ways to prepare staff for the competency exam will be to ensure that all departments are using the most current training material from TJJD’s Training Resource webpage.

Departments providing their own training will be proctoring the exam. TJJD will be providing an informational webinar or training for all proctors as implementation nears. When an applicant takes the exam, the data and score will be sent to both TJJD and the applicant. Applicants will have two attempts to pass the competency exam. If the applicant is unable to pass the exam after two attempts, the applicant will no longer be eligible for certification as a juvenile probation officer. TJJD is considering a possible rule that would allow for the hiring authority to request a waiver for a third attempt.

This pilot only affects juvenile probation officers, however, juvenile supervision officers are also statutorily required to take a competency exam as well. The Juvenile Justice Training Academy has determined that once the juvenile probation officer exam is operational and fully functional, we will move forward with the pilot and implementation of the JSO exam. Additional details on this exam will be provided at a later date.

For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Kristy.Almager@tjjd.texas.gov or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or Chris.Ellison@tjjd.texas.gov.
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TJJD Implements New Use of Force Policy Training [March 2016]
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Many of our jobs within the juvenile justice profession require us to be patient, respectful, and professional toward youth, TJJD staff are no different. At TJJD, safety is our priority as youth receive the help they need to reintegrate back into the community successfully. Non-physical and physical interventions are sometimes necessary to ensure both staff and youth are kept safe. The Juvenile Justice Training Academy (JJTA) will be implementing a newly revised Use of Force Policy training beginning in April for new hire and tenured staff. These courses are designed to give staff adequate knowledge of TJJD policy specific to the Use of Force, to gain knowledge of how to determine whether force is necessary, how to use force appropriately, what force is prohibited, and to what degree force should be used. In addition, activities and scenarios are incorporated throughout the courses for participants to determine whether use of force was used appropriately or inappropriately for resolving a given situation. These courses provide participants with an opportunity to be fully engaged in the learning process and to be as actively prepared as possible by learning the 3Cs of Calling for assistance, staying Calm, and Controlling the situation. TJJD wants to ensure our staff maintains professionalism at all times. Use of force is a last resort but may become necessary when youth behavior threatens safety and order.

For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Kristy.Almager@tjjd.texas.gov or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or Chris.Ellison@tjjd.texas.gov.
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TJJD Implements New Two-Person Safety Carry Technique Training [March 2016]
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Once agency leadership recognized that staff had no specific recourse for how to move a non-compliant youth, it was clear that a technique needed to be developed. Such a technique, primarily developed by Daniel Siam, Dorm Supervisor at Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex, was recently approved by agency leadership and provides direction so everyone is operating with the same expectation.

JJTA worked to develop a curriculum for the agency-approved two-person carry technique that will alleviate everyone using something different and will bring consistency throughout all facilities. Implementation of the new two-person safety carry technique will begin in April for all newly hired staff. While this technique will primarily be used by security staff, all tenured direct care staff will also be trained in the technique. TJJD hopes to see a reduction in both youth and staff injuries. By following this one consistent technique, youth will be moved more efficiently and effectively.

For more information, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Kristy.Almager@tjjd.texas.gov or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or Chris.Ellison@tjjd.texas.gov.
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Training Academy Welcomes New Employees [March 2016]
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RYAN REASOR began February as the JJTA’s E-Learning Curriculum Developer. Ryan will be developing e-learning modules for both state institutions and probation. Ryan has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Mass Journalism from Boise State and comes to us from the University of Texas at Austin where he was the media coordinator. Prior to UT, Ryan was employed with TDCJ as their video production specialist and then served with the House of Representatives as a video editor.

ANDY FAZZIO began March 15 as the new Training Specialist for specialized and ancillary training. Andy will be working to train both state institutions and probation. Andy has approximately 25 years of experience in training and is nationally known in his case management and motivational interviewing skill set. He worked with the Oregon Youth Authority for over ten years in several capacities in training. In addition, Andy trained assessments instruments, motivational interviewing, PACT, YES case place and other evidence based specialized training in California, Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Idaho and Utah to both adult and juvenile agencies and with the US Department of Justice.

DELISHA STEWART will begin with JJTA as a Curriculum Developer for probation specific curriculum. Delisha has been helping children and families since 1998. Earning a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio, she interned with the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department and subsequently worked at a residential treatment center for children. Delisha then transitioned to the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department as a Juvenile Probation Officer in the Early Intervention Unit. Delisha went on to gain a wealth of experience, working in a variety of positions with the department, and earned Employee of the Year awards in 2007 and 2013.

We are very happy to welcome Ryan, Andy and Delisha to the Juvenile Justice Training Academy team!
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TJJD Partners with the Juvenile Law Section to Host 29th Annual Juvenile Law Conference [March 2016]
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On February 22-24, the Juvenile Law Section of the State Bar of Texas sponsored the 29th Annual Juvenile Law Conference in San Antonio. TJJD’s Juvenile Justice Training Academy coordinated the conference in partnership with the Juvenile Law Section and welcomed approximately 415 juvenile justice professionals from across the state. TJJD Board Member and Chair of the Juvenile Law Section, Riley Shaw, planned a unique advanced juvenile law conference specifically designed to give practitioners the latest and most pertinent information relevant to juvenile justice in Texas.

During the conference, distinguished professionals from across the state presented on various topics that benefited all facets of professionals wanting to enhance the juvenile justice system attending from judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation personnel, educators, law enforcement, state agency personnel and others that may have been in attendance.

While there was an array of topics throughout the three days, several keynote presentations were provided including: The State of Texas v. Cameron Moon: Ethical Issues in Assessing Whether Youth Should Be Certified; Cognitive Bias in Photo Line Ups; The Thin Blue Line: Why Brady Matters; Ethical Issues in Representing Children with Special Needs; and Privacy and Confidentiality of Juvenile Hearings and Dealing with the Media. Collectively, this year’s speakers all demonstrated great passion and enthusiasm in their ability to share their knowledge and expertise. If you weren’t able to attend, but are interested in reviewing of the materials presented, you may search the articles online here.

This year marks the second year the Juvenile Law hosted disciplinary caucuses with facilitated discussion. This conference is always an opportunity to bring practitioners together statewide to provide a forum for open discussion on current issues affecting the juvenile justice system, but these caucuses provide a means to network within an individual’s personal discipline and discuss best practices, current issues, and share trends within the scope of his or her functional area. Another goal is to support a continued dialogue for ways to implement an overall improved system.

TJJD and the Juvenile Law Section would like to thank everyone who attended, and is looking forward to hosting the 30th Annual Juvenile Law Conference, scheduled for February 27 – March 1, 2017 at Horseshoe Bay.

For questions or more information, please contact the Juvenile Justice Training Academy at 512.490.7913.
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TJJD Implements Human Trafficking Course for All Direct Care Staff in February [January 2016]
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Human Trafficking has been a prominent training topic in Texas for the last several sessions and will likely remain as such as more information and statistics become available on trafficking and exploitation, especially related to children. Over the last few years, TJJD and local juvenile probation departments have worked with a number of entities including the Attorney General’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Traffick911, Allies Against Slavery, and International Hope to name a few, to seek professional development in this area as a proactive measure for staff for the enhancement of awareness and responsivity to the needs of these youth in our system.

Senate Bill 1356 (83R) mandated Human Trafficking training for all juvenile correctional officers, along with Trauma Informed Care training. TJJD curriculum developers recently completed a new 2-hour Human Trafficking course that will be implemented into the new hire schedule for all incoming juvenile correctional officers beginning in February. This course is an introduction to human trafficking where a discussion of definitions and terms, myths and facts, and characters and processes are provided. This course also instructs staff on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of victims or traffickers within TJJD facilities as well as the reporting processes once they have been identified. In addition to providing this new course to all new hires, TJJD will also be providing this training to all tenured staff. Juvenile probation departments may request this training at any time by the Juvenile Justice Training Academy, or while coordinating regional training.

For additional information on this training course, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245.
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Changes Are Coming to the DPS FAST and FACT Clearinghouse Procedures [November 2015]
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The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will soon be implementing procedural changes with regard to the FAST and FACT Clearinghouse. MorphoTrust USA, the exclusive vendor that collects and submits fingerprints to the FBI on behalf of DPS, is launching a new system called the Universal Enrollment Platform (UEP). The UEP is designed to decrease equipment failure rates, provide mobile friendly scheduling, provide the ability to have on-site credit card payments, make compatible with interstate livescan submissions and provide automated self-service status applicant notifications.

All of these improvements should greatly enhance the overall customer experience and convenience to improve efficiency when getting individuals fingerprinted. This transition started in October and DPS will be contacting each juvenile probation department with specific details regarding implementation.

Historically, DPS provided live rap-back notifications to departments for any activity or arrests in Texas regarding their applicants. However, it failed to include activity from the National criminal history record unless the prints were rerun through the FBI database. DPS has announced that sometime in the next few months, the FBI rap-back notifications will be live for both state and national criminal history records. In order to receive the live notifications, CJPOs or their designees will need to subscribe to the FBI rap-back notices and applicants will be required to sign a waiver allowing the release of their rap-back information. DPS will provide additional information for everyone currently in the FAST System that must sign a waiver for the department.

The FASTPass fingerprint authorization form will ultimately transition away from the form. In addition, MorphoTrust USA will be replacing the department’s ORI number with a unique six character service code that will be used to accurately identify the department moving forward. Unlike the ORI numbers, the service codes will not be sequential numbers and therefore it is highly improbably that an applicant accidentally enrolls for the wrong department.

The fingerprint fee per applicant is governed by Section 80.001 of the Texas Human Resources Code and was raised from $9.95 to $10.00 per applicant, effective October 1, 2015. A separate fee may apply for applicants processed outside of Texas. Individuals may continue to pay by business check, money order or credit card at each location but cash will no longer be accepted. Departments now have the ability to set up an escrow account that may be used online for payment. Additional information on the escrow account may be found at http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/forms/tx/560d8bc98a7fc.pdf.

Departments will soon be notified by DPS on behalf of MorphoTrust USA regarding all of these and other changes. If you have questions regarding the current FAST or FACT Clearinghouse procedures, please contact Diane Laffoon at 512.490.7782 or Diane.Laffoon@tjjd.texas.gov. DPS may be reached at 512.424.2365, option 6 for additional information on the new changes.
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Trauma Informed Care Training Requirements for Juvenile Probation and Supervision Officers [November 2015]
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The Juvenile Justice Training Academy (JJTA) has moved forward with the final requirements of implementation from Senate Bill 1356 passed during the 83rd Texas Legislature (2013). This bill requires all juvenile probation and supervision officers to have Trauma Informed Care training prior to certification or renewal (for existing officers). Currently, this course is required for officers to take the course only once. Back in July, the JJTA sent an email to all departments advising staff that effective September 1, 2015, all new certification requests or renewals submitted would be required to identify the Trauma Informed Care training as part of the application process. Since Trauma Informed Care has not yet been added to the mandatory topics identified in ICIS, this training will need to be manually entered in on the Trainings Page of the Application and Diane Laffoon, Certification Officer, will be reviewing them. If you need assistance with this, you may contact her directly at 512.490.7782 or Diane.Laffoon@tjjd.texas.gov.

TJJD’s JJTA continues to try and assist departments with meeting the requirements of SB 1356 and provide adequate opportunities for departments across the state to get their staff trained.

  • If your department is utilizing the curriculum developed by TJJD, the trainer should have attended one of the Trauma Informed Care Training for Trainers offered. We want to ensure that staff training this material is adequately trained. TJJD has hosted a number of Trauma Informed Care Training for Trainers over the last couple of years in an effort to train as many people as possible.
  • If your department needs to get trainers qualified to teach this curriculum, TJJD has scheduled another Trauma Informed Care Training for Trainers for December 7-8, 2015. Additional information can be found here.
  • Your department can submit a Training Technical Assistance Request or assist in coordinating a Regional Training effort in which either can contain the Trauma Informed Care Training. To date, all of the regional trainings across the state have offered the TIC training.


Some departments have advised us that you are being approached by various companies offering their services in regards to SB 1356 or that you were already using some form of existing curriculum. Many of these companies are offering training courses targeting verbal interventions which, while important, do not meet the intent of this bill. To clarify, SB 1356 is focused on developing a trauma-informed approach with the juvenile justice population. The intent of SB 1356 is to improve our approach with traumatized youth, which comprises a significant majority of the population we serve. When we approach traumatized youth with traditional or generalized approaches, we often contribute to the “trauma-incarceration-trauma cycle”. The difference is not just knowing how to de-escalate a youth in general, but recognizing the impetus of a behavior or response as trauma related. This spurs a more individualized approach. So, while one may use some of the skills learned in a verbal interventions course, staff must also be able to acknowledge when these strategies are not appropriate and distinguish the unique relation between the behavior and the traumatic experiences and impact those experiences have had for a particular child. In addition to staff learning to recognize trauma related behaviors, a trauma informed care approach also involves helping youth recognize his/her trauma triggers and reactions and assisting them in finding alternative approaches.

The topics required by SB 1356 include:

  • The impact of trauma on childhood development;
  • The relationship between trauma and behavioral problems, including delinquency;
  • How to recognize the effects of trauma in a youth’s behavior;
  • How to respond appropriately to a traumatized youth’s reactions; and
  • How to manage stress caused by working with a traumatized population (sometimes referred to as vicarious trauma.)


In addition, the nine essential elements of Trauma Informed Care to be established in the curriculum include:

  1. Maximize the child’s sense of safety.
  2. Assist children in reducing overwhelming emotion.
  3. Help children make new meaning of their trauma history and current xperiences.
  4. Address the impact of trauma and subsequent changes in the child’s behavior, development, and relationships.
  5. Coordinate services with other agencies.
  6. Utilize comprehensive assessment of the child’s trauma experiences and their impact on the child’s development and behavior to guide services.
  7. Support and promote positive and stable relationships in the life of the child.
  8. Provide support and guidance to the child’s family and caregivers.
  9. Manage professional and personal stress.

The curriculum developed by TJJD contains all of the specific elements described above, however, if your department is already training staff using another curriculum, we will need to approve the curriculum (prior to its use) to ensure that the curriculum covered will be adequate in order to meet the SB 1356 mandate as outlined above. Any courses not meeting information outlined above will not be approved. If you would like to submit the curriculum for approval, please forward the request to Kristy Almager at Kristy.Almager@tjjd.texas.gov and include all related training materials for review.

Please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 if you have any questions or would like to discuss this legislative mandate.
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TJJD Releases Updated PREA E-Course for Employees and New Way of Receiving Training Credit [November 2015]
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The Juvenile Justice Training Academy (JJTA) recently released an updated version of the PREA e-course for TJJD staff. This e-course is required annually primarily for all non-direct care staff as found in the employee’s individual training requirements (all direct care staff and select others are still required to take the classroom version of this course). This e-course discusses the federal legal laws and the TJJD employee policies which provide protection of juveniles against violence and rape while in TJJD care. Since this e-course was developed using an updated e-learning platform, employees will not automatically receive credit after taking the PREA e-course on your employee training transcript found in the training portal. Credit for taking (only) this course will be entered by JJTA staff and therefore credit will not be immediately displayed. JJTA will be provided with updated reports on those employees attempting the course on a daily basis. If you take the e-course and successfully pass the exam and credit is not displayed after seven (7) business days, please contact Carla Feller at 512.490.7667 or Carla.Feller@tjjd.texas.gov.
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Juvenile Justice Training Academy Implements New Legislative Training Initiative for Juvenile Correctional Officers [November 2015]
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This past legislative session, House Bill 2372 (84R) passed that reduced the number of initial training hours juvenile correctional hours receive from 300 to 240 prior to being considered sole-supervised, or when an officer independently has the ability to supervise youth alone. An additional 60 hours of training is still required within the first year of employment. As of October 1, TJJD began implementing this new schedule.

In anticipation of this legislation moving forward, there were several primary areas of focus when discussing how the agency trains new hires to ensure a successful transition to meeting the objectives of this bill that included:

  • improving the quality of training (curriculum and delivery);
  • adding in additional on-the-job training;
  • adding in a coaching and mentoring component;
  • making training more realistic; and
  • making training more learner centered (versus lecture based).

By reducing the number of required hours up front, it allows for a JCO to become sole supervised after six weeks, if they have successfully completed all required training, versus the legacy eight weeks. In addition, JCOs are now hired only once a month and will receive required core life and safety courses, along with de-escalation techniques, before receiving any on-the-job training. This will help ensure the safety of both staff and youth.

This revised schedule has been a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Justice Training Academy, State Programs and Facilities, Education Services, Superintendents and senior leadership within the agency. The transition to this new training program is significant for the agency and it will likely incur some growing pangs as we determine how we can enhance the overall training program for new hires and tenured staff alike, but undoubtedly this initiative is another sign that we are continually moving forward to demonstrate our passion and dedication to improving retention and creating a better trained staff and a safer environment for our youth.

For additional information on this training initiative, please contact Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125 or Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245.
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TJJD Hosts Post-Legislative Conference and Budget Workshop in San Antonio [October 2015]
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TJJD welcomed juvenile justice professionals from across the state to San Antonio for the 10th bi-annual Post-Legislative Conference and Budget Workshop, held July 27-29, 2015 at the Wyndham Hotel Riverwalk. The TJJD Post-Legislative Conference had approximately 400 participants in attendance and provided individuals with an overview of changes made during the 84th Texas Legislative session, specifically bills impacting juvenile justice, TFPS, truancy reform, justice and municipal courts, victims of crime, human trafficking, sex offenders, code of criminal procedure and penal code. In addition, audience members heard about legislative appropriations to TJJD and the overall impact of funding changes to the juvenile justice system.

Representative Harold Dutton, Chairman of the House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, provided the keynote presentation to participants as a supporter of TJJD’s mission and to the Texas juvenile justice system. He spoke highly of the work the field did as a whole this legislative session and the work we collectively have to do. Specifically, he discussed regionalization and the many opportunities that can be created looking forward. Representative Dutton was very passionate and has remained a strong, effective advocate for the fundamental values of strong families.

This year proved to be the largest TJJD Budget Workshop since its inception with over 340 participants in attendance. The 84th Texas Legislature made some significant changes to how funding was allocated to departments and this Workshop provided TJJD and juvenile probation departments with an opportunity to discuss topics related to funding strategies and have question and answer sessions for participants to better understand how juvenile probation departments or local services will be directly impacted and ensuring youth receive adequate services throughout the state.

For the first time, TJJD video recorded both events and will be making them available on TJJD’s website by late August. Additional information will be forwarded out to all juvenile probation departments when the link is available. TJJD would like to thank everyone who attended, and is looking forward to hosting these events again in 2017. For questions or more information, please contact the Juvenile Justice Training Academy at 512.490.7913.
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Regional Training Officers Meet to Discuss Basic Training Curricula Changes [October 2015]
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TJJD hosted its annual Regional Training Officer (RTO) meeting in partnership with the Correctional Management Institute of Texas August 3-6, 2015 at SHSU in Huntsville. The year, approximately 16 RTOs from around the state came together for this collaborative opportunity. The primary goal of this workgroup meeting is to ensure the content contained the current Juvenile Probation Officer Basic and Juvenile Supervision Officer Basic curricula is updated, relevant, applicable and written in a way so it can be consistently delivered statewide to officers. With the end of the 84th Texas Legislative session, it was also necessary to determine whether or not any legislative changes needed to be made to the Basic curricula.

In preparation for this workgroup meeting, TJJD solicited input via a survey for suggested changes to the curricula from participants attending TJJD’s Training Coordinators’ Conference that was held in June, as well as, sending the survey to all departments in July. In addition to the survey results, other topical areas of discussion included: feedback from previous Basic training evaluations; how Basic training is being provided locally; courses we may/can shift to e-learning modules; and defining ways to enhance existing Basic curricula. Each year, a significant amount of work goes into updating the Basic curricula. It is unequivocally the individual efforts of those attending that collectively make a difference in how incoming officers are trained statewide. The changes that are proposed during the workgroup meeting will be implemented November 1, 2015. An email will be sent to all departments when the curricula is available to be downloaded, however, all revised Basic curricula will be on the TJJD training portal website on or before this date.

We want to thank all of the RTOs that participated in this workgroup meeting. Their generous input and commitment made this a valuable experience for everyone that attended. In addition, we would also like to acknowledge Monique Holman with CMIT. Monique continues to do a phenomenal job coordinating the RTO meetings and systematically helps prepare all materials for the RTOs. She remains our primary point of contact at CMIT with this group and is highly efficient, dedicated to her job and always goes the extra mile to provide the best level of customer service possible. Thank you, Monique!

If you have any questions or would like additional information regarding the RTO meeting, the RTO process or if you would like to become a Regional Training Officer and potentially serve on this workgroup, please contact Chris Ellison at 512.490.7245 or Kristy Almager at 512.490.7125.
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