Friday, March 18, 2011


Samantha Lauren Martin June 4, 1993 - December 3, 2006
With a song by Avril Lavigne a nicely laid out video tribute in Celebration of the Importance of Life & Loving Memory of a young girl named Samantha Lauren Martin shows you her brief life as well as the sought after objective of birth parents who did not have her in their home most of her life and for whom they now seek inquiry and closure. Her death inspired Samantha's Law.

Her parents are John and Velvet Martin. On Jan. 17, 2011 they finally obtained 'a fatality inquiry' into the death of their severely disabled 13-year-old daughter Samantha who died unexpectedly. It is happening this morning. (Samantha Martin Public Fatality Inquiry / Court reconvenes today, Friday, March 18th at 9:30 am. Edmonton Provincial Court, Room 449, Law Courts, 1A Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton, AB T5J 0R2)

You will find her interesting and heart-rending story at various internet sites. Her death in Dec. 2006, of cardiac arrest, was not while in foster care, but rather, six months after she had moved back into her parents' home in St. Albert, Alberta., following more than a decade in foster care. Samantha had a rare genetic disorder called Tetrasomy 18p, which left her mentally and physically disabled. Velvet has testified that shortly after Samantha was born it was apparent that she was severely disabled and social workers urged the Martins to give their child into foster care. They signed a voluntary "permanent guardianship agreement" because they were persuaded that Samantha would have free and full access to the best programs and services which the parents would have to pay for themselves if they kept her.

While they could have cancelled this agreement with 10-day notice, they were convinced that Samantha would not then receive all that she needed. She lived for almost a decade in a foster home that specialized in children with disabilities not far from St. Albert. There was a reorganization of children's services in 2005 and their file was transferred to another office, from which the Martins were told that the permanent guardian agreement was no longer in effect, that it had been abolished. No one had ever told them or they could have had Samantha home much sooner.

When finally she returned to her parents' home it was with high hopes that she could live a happy and normal life and that her parents could capably care for her. Her death by cardiac arrest was not expected. However, John and Velvet have believed that the time Samantha spent in foster care contributed to her death, claiming that she was mistreated. They know that Samantha's school had several “incident reports.” The Martins believe that the foster caregivers ignored concerns from the school that Samantha was having frequent tiny seizures. Further, they learned that the foster care facility had been investigated with respect to their daughter during her stay there. This is part of the testimony now. The Martins also alleged that Samantha's caseworker  kept records that were skeletal and inadequate. An internal review in 2007 concluded that there was no connection between her tragic death and the foster care system. Therefore no criminal charges were laid.

Notwithstanding that, Velvet Martin pressed for a public inquiry which does not attribute blame but does examine the circumstances of the death in order to determine whether there are lessons to be learned to avert future similar tragedies. The Martins obtained this fatality inquiry and it is expected to last three weeks.
And one more major item. Velvet Martin has championed a new law known as Samantha's Law, a Canadian child protection law. The life and circumstances surrounding Samantha Lauren Martin, a child with a rare chromosome disorder, Tetrasomy 18p & Autism led her mother, Velvet Martin, to challenge archaic laws inhibiting the rights of persons with disability and their families. Specifically, no loving family of a child with developmental or medical diversity should be coerced into relinquishing custody - whether temporary or permanent - in effort to secure Government funding for required medical and therapeutic services!  On December 3 2009 (the same date marks the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities being tabled in the House of Commons of Canada), Velvet Martin's persistence resulted in the establishment of "Samantha's Law." The Amendment to the Alberta Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, became effective retroactive to December 2006. Section 2-3, Manual Amendments: Policy and Procedures in Family Centred Supports and Services: "The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program to have separate legislation from that of child protection services.
Tetrasomy 18p Website: Velvet Martin is Administrator for the website, Tetrasomy 18p Canada
Toronto Sun Story 

1 comment:

  1. I watched the movie, very well done.

    What stands out on this writeup today is the fact Samantha died outside foster care. Clearly, had this happened while she was still in care, we would not be waiting 5 years for an inquiry.

    This is the sad part, that a child has to die before a review is conducted. Thresholds need to be created so the public can demand review of certain cases.

    A review on the Baynes case is needed. Desperately. The emotional and financial cost is so incredibly disproportionate to the result, SOMEBODY's head needs to roll.

    Foster care record keeping is another huge problem. In almost every case I have heard of, record keeping is inconsistent and practically non-existant.

    Kudos to the remarkable efforts of Samantha's parents. Very inspirational.


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