Rhayne advocating for foster youth to 2019 BC Select Standing Committee:
Although Rhayne’s main focus is on singing, songwriting and promoting her music, she occasionally liaises with provincial and federal government leaders as well as organizations, to advocate and provide positive solutions to resolve problems to help individuals or groups in need, some facing system challenges. She also advocates to protect wildlife and the environment.
Rhayne is an effective advocate, for example when she challenged the provincial candidates who at that time were running at for Premier of BC, Canada, her questions and initiatives resulted in an excellent outcome. Her questions went to all candidates during the televised election debate. MLA’s from around the province also supported her initiatives.
Rhayne’s challenge went to each candidate asking, “Who will act when they become Premier, to take the initiative and open a new Department or Ministry of the government to support foster youth and young adults aging out of care and allow them to remain with their foster family until their mid-twenties, and provide more support for those with mental health challenges, as well help those with addictions?” Rhayne recognized these needs from having advocated and mentored fosters and others throughout the communities, and having a nursing background.
Rhayne’s challenge helped inspire the opening of the “Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions” as after the election, Premier John Horgan kept his promise and opened this new Ministry within the BC government.
The Premier and MLA’s also passed legislation that allowed fosters to remain with their foster parents until 26 instead of 19 if they choose; which will help fosters tremendously, as there was little support for fosters after they aged out of care prior to this, which was putting fosters in peril and unsafe situations, mainly due to not enough funding or supports previously. We are all thankful that these first changes will start to help them.
Rhayne also secured ten million dollars in government funding by advocating for Foster youth aging out of care, by appearing before the 2019 BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. That funding went directly to develop programs for foster’s aging out of care, to support their post-secondary education, such as trades, college or university, and support for their housing. Rhayne also offered the government a program she wrote called, MAP, designed to help improve the needs of those in the foster care system and fosters aging out of care, that she will be continuing to address.
Rhayne gratefully acknowledges that this funding would not have been accomplished without the help and support of Premier John Horgan, MLA Garry Begg, MLA’s from around the province including those on the 2019 Standing Finance Committee, The Vancouver Foundation, Fostering Change, and others who support foster youth aging out of care.
By the government providing funding for foster youth and young adults to achieve their post-secondary education with housing support, will give them a far better chance at a safer and more productive life, as they will have the skills and education to work after they graduate. This initiative will also promote their self-confidence, sense of purpose and autonomy.
Also, thanks to Bell Canada for promoting mental health for everyone, and for giving fosters who are aging out of care, free recycled cell phones, which will help support and protect them, by being able to stay in contact with their mentors and support services. As well, Koodo and Telus are also helping support mental health which is great, as it is as important as physical health.
Fosters aging out of care, through funding and programs, will now be supported as they upgrade their schooling by being able to take trades, college or university. As well, they will also now be able to stay with their foster family until the age of 26 instead of 19, or live independently if they wish.
When Premier John Horgan asked Rhayne if she had any other great suggestions. She requested that crisis care clinics need to be built and opened throughout the province to help those who need immediate mental health or addiction support. She felt that these crisis clinics would provide immediate mental health and addiction support, instead of people being placed on long waitlists who need urgent care, it would also help offset some of the load on the ER’s.
Premier John Horgan responded to Rhayne’s suggestion, by opening Urgent Care Clinics throughout the province, which has proven successful and greatly needed. Rhayne is grateful to the Premier for his positive responses and can do attitude.
Fostering Change (https://www.fosteringchange.ca), is a proactive organization consisting of former foster youth now adults, who advocate for change and improvements to the foster care system, especially for those aging out of care, as they have lived it. Fostering Change asked Rhayne if she would help advocate for their cause and appear in front of the 2019 Standing Finance Committee, consisting of MLA’s from around the province.
Rhayne is very thankful to those at Fostering Change who shared their struggles with her, about what it was like to grow up in the foster care system. Rhayne took their concerns to the Standing Finance Committee, along with her story they requested she share, about what she witnessed when she mentored and advocated for a foster youth as they grew up in foster care, and the dire situations that occurred after they aged out of care which was 19, at that time.
After witnessing this and hearing other fosters’ experiences, sometimes life and death struggles, compelled Rhayne to want to help improve the foster care system and especially do something to help fosters after they aged out of care. This was one of the reasons why Rhayne advocates for fosters aging out of care, and wrote the MAP program to help refresh the structure, system and policies within the foster care system, that went to MCF.
Rhayne feels it is vital for fosters future to give them a chance for a good life, by helping facilitate change within the foster care system, that is still ongoing and needed. She feels many people do not consider or fully understand the gravity of what it must be like to grow up without parents, such as the case with foster children, youth and young adults.
Another suggestion Rhayne gave to the Provincial Government for the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction some years ago, was to ask the government to offer the option for people to report earnings and fill out applications and stubs online, instead of having people with disabilities and mothers with young children wait in long line ups in person, sometimes outside in inclement weather. This has been a tremendous help for everyone, as it also made their system more safe, efficient and streamlined for everyone, including their workers and the government.
Rhayne believes that she was not only blessed with the gift from God for singing and songwriting, but also to help create positive change and give a voice for those in need.