A severely disabled 12-year-old Broward County girl appears to have been starved or neglected to death while under the care of a privately run foster care agency under contract with the state.
Tamiyah Audain was taken into state care in December 2012 when her mother died and her father declined to care for her. The pre-teen, who was diagnosed with both autism and a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs, was sent to live with a cousin, under the care of ChildNet, Broward Countys privately run child welfare agency.
In Florida all of the states foster care and adoption services are performed by private providers under contract with the Department Of Children & Families.
In the ensuing 10 months, Tamiyah appears to have languished as at least two state agencies squared off over where she would live, what care she would receive, and who would pay for it. When Tamiyahs body was found at around midnight Thursday morning, a report said, she appeared to be severely malnourished, and police saw bedsores and an open wound on her body. Police also documented a stench in the bedroom where Tamiyah was found.
Tamiyah became one of at least 20 Florida children who have died since this spring during a period of significant turmoil for the states child welfare agency, DCF, and the second Broward child whose death is expected to reveal significant lapses at ChildNet, DCFs private provider in Broward.
Lauderhill police have refused to discuss the girls death.
DCF also declined to discuss Tamiyahs death, saying the case remained under investigation.
At the apartment where Tamiyah lived and died a young woman slammed the door when a reporter visited.
Tamiyahs cousin, Latoya Patterson, called for rescue at 8 p.m. Wednesday, telling authorities she found the girl unresponsive several hours after administering medication.
Diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, a rare and extremely disabling condition, Tamiyah was totally dependent on others for her needs, and [was] unable to bathe, feed or express herself, according to a DCF email obtained Friday by the Miami Herald. Tamiyah had the intellectual capacities of a 2-year-old.
Tamiyahs death also underscores the deep tensions among state social service agencies that frequently battle over who will pay the bills for disabled or frail children who are in state care. As recently as this week, a meeting had been scheduled and then cancelled among top administrators of DCF and the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The two agencies had been trying to develop a cost sharing formula that would enable disabled children in DCFs care to obtain needed services from the state, including rooms in group homes that specialize in caring for disabled children.
When her mother died, Tamiyah was sent to live with a maternal cousin, who told authorities she could only be a temporary caregiver, according to a DCF incident report. The plan was to send Tamiyah to Kentucky, where she would be raised by an aunt. But there was a glitch, the report said: Tamiyahs aunt in Kentucky, who was deemed to be an appropriate caregiver, was willing to permanently raise Tamiyah, but not adopt her. ChildNet was unwilling to send Tamiyah to the aunt without an adoption.