Samantha's Law

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Samantha's Law is unique to the Province of Alberta, part of a Canadian Child Protection Act. Samantha Lauren Martin was born June 4, 1993 and died December 3, 2006. The circumstances of her life and death prompted legislative amendment for persons with disability. Samantha Martin was born with Tetrasomy 18p, a rare chromosome syndrome, resulting in global developmental delays, Autism and a Seizure disorder. In 2009 the House of Commons tabled the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizing December 3 as International Day of Persons with Disability.

Background[edit]

Samantha Martin was in the custody of the Canadian government. She lived in a foster care facility in Alberta, Canada. On December 3, 2006, Samantha died at age 13 while a patient at Stollery Children's Hospital.[citation needed]

The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program,[1] delivered through the Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act[2] and accompanying Regulation,[3] recognizes children with special needs as legally distinct from children in protective services under the intervention model. Government funding under that program is made available to families directly in order to prevent the need for guardianship relinquishment and out-of-home placement to achieve necessary medical supports.

The Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) program is not connected with Child Intervention Services. Both programs, however, fall under Alberta Human Services, FSCD is a distinct program with separate legislation.[4]

Upon Samantha Martin’s medical prognosis, Government Representatives instructed the family that custody must be surrendered in order to gain access to funding for necessary medical services. Tragically, Samantha Martin was not provided the supports promised and died. The Program representing children with disabilities under authority of Section 106 of the Child Welfare Act was in place until 2004. Samantha’s mother, Velvet Martin, further led a Family-Centred Care initiative to amend Policy in honour of persons with disability and their families. Persistence resulted in the establishment of "Samantha's Law" known as Section 2-3 of Family Supports for Children with Disability (FSCD) of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFA). Section 2-3 of FSCD Policy was retroactive to December 2006 marking Samantha Martin’s death. 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."

The premise behind Samantha’s Law is promotion of equality, honour of human rights and dignity. In the absence of abuse of neglect, loving families tasked with extraordinary developmental or medical diversity must not be grouped amongst the Child Intervention Model. Rather, families are to be supported directly with in-home supports; not be coerced into relinquishing custody - whether temporary or permanent - in effort to secure Government funding for required services.

References and external links[edit]

  1. ^ "Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) website". 
  2. ^ "Alberta Queen's Printer, FSCD Act". 
  3. ^ "Alberta Queen's Printer, FSCD Regulation". 
  4. ^ "Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) FAQ". 

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