In January and February of 2014 four High School students living in foster care were granted money from the Kathryn A. Basile Foster A Dream Foundation.
Daniel Pettus is an engineering student at IRSC. He works part-time at Devereux CBC in the RTS Program as the Youth Worker. Over the last year he has become increasingly more active in the youth-led statewide advocacy group, Florida Youth SHINE, where he has advocated for positive changes in the child welfare system. Daniel has traveled to Tallahassee several times to testify on behalf of the new IL Legislation, The Nancy C. Deteret Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act, which was successfully passed into law effective January 2014 extending foster care until age 21. Proudly, Daniel serves as the statewide Chair of the advocacy group. Locally, he has met with the local Bar Association to recruit pro bono attorneys to represent children in court during dependency cases. Last summer Daniel was selected to represent Florida and travel to Washington DC to participate in National Foster Youth Shadow Day where he shadowed members of congress and participated in news conferences and panel discussions raising awareness for youth in foster care.
Mary Power is an English student and works full-time. Mary has found her voice in becoming a local advocate for children in foster care. She has participated in local panel discussions with foster parents, trained Dependency Care Managers in Pre-Service Training on how children experience removals from their homes, and trained Guardian ad Litems on the importance of Normalcy for children n care. Mary has traveled to Tallahassee to testify in front of the Florida Children, Family & Elder Affairs Committee about the important of letting kids be kids while they are in care. Mary has also been a featured speaker in the Stop the Tears Breakfast Series. Recently Mary was appointed as the President of the local Florid Youth SHINE Chapter.
Through the generosity of the Kathryn A. Basile Foster A Dream grant, both Daniel and Mary were able to attend the statewide Florida Youth SHINE (FYS)meeting in January to continue their advocacy efforts. During the meeting, Daniel & Mary discussed the FYS legislative agenda and prepare for Children’s Week in April in Tallahassee which included possible legislative issues including sibling separations, drivers licenses for teens in foster care, issues related to the tuition waiver for post-secondary education, and assistance for children in non-licensed placements (relative/non-relative care). Daniel and Mary prepared for a presentation they will be doing in Tallahassee during Children’s Week for youth on Advocacy. Liz Quirantes from CBS 12 came and educated them on how to use the media effectively for advocacy and getting their story on the air. Senator Jeff Clemmons also came and spoke about going to Tallahassee and talking with legislators.
Tyler Morgan received $400.00 toward the purchase of an IPad that he will be using in college. He received his High School Diploma in November 2013 and started Valencia State College in January 2014.
Miracle Thomas received grant money to get the following: Cap/gown/tassel/ senior hoodie, senior t-shirt, souvenir mega tassel & key chain. These are the “little things” or the “normal rites of passage” that these kids may not ever get to experience. The funding from Foster A Dream Foundation has assisted these teens in not only experiencing what every High School student deserves, but it has also helped them get that much closer to attaining their hopes, dreams and goals.