Good for You: Florida’s Children First to honor local child advocate and former foster child

The organization that gives a political voice to young people in Florida’s dependency system recognized local youth Daniel Pettus for using his own voice to improve life for children in foster care.

Pettus, 23, the youth worker at Devereux Community Based Care of Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast who entered local foster care when he was 10, was recognized as a youth honoree during the June 19 Florida’s Children’s First 2014 Bay Area Reception, in Tampa.

Florida Children’s First is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the legal rights of at-risk children, especially those in Florida’s foster care system.

“Daniel has dedicated countless hours testifying in Tallahassee, serving on statewide committees, speaking with legislators…and sharing his story with the media,” said Geori Berman, coordinator for Florida Youth SHINE, an organization of young people who advocate on behalf of children in foster care.

He has served as the statewide Florida Youth SHINE chair for the past two years, leading advocacy efforts that eventually led to the passage of three child-welfare laws, including the recently adopted Extended Foster Care act that gives youth in foster care the option to remain in care through their 21st birthday.

Pettus entered care at the age of 10 and transitioned in and out of care many times until he turned 18. Although an adult and no longer able to remain in foster care, Pettus was being served by a local program called Road to Success, which helped him transition out of foster care and into college. During his stay in foster care, he was separated from his two sisters – an experience that still drives much of his advocacy.

“Daniel feels an obligation to join the fight for young people’s rights because of his own story,” Berman said.

Pettus, who is pursuing an engineering degree at Indian River State College, said his greatest passion is to help build the tools that other young people will use to overcome adversity in their own lives. He draws inspiration from historical leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and from American clergyman and author Phillips Brooks, who said, “I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.”

“There were times when it all seemed too much,” Pettus said. “I wondered how I could possibly help enough people with my voice alone…but I asked for more strength, and I found it within myself.”

Devereux Community Based Care of Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast is the non-profit organization responsible for all known abused, abandoned and neglected children in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. It is contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families to coordinate and oversee the local child-welfare system in those counties.

This story is contributed by a member of the Treasure Coast community and is neither endorsed nor affiliated with

Original Article

Share this article:


Related Posts

Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

Skip to content