LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) – A 12-year-old autistic girl died in Lauderhill on Wednesday night and state child welfare workers who were overseeing her care are facing serious questions.
According to emails and investigative documents provided to CBS 4 News by our partners at The Miami Herald, the girl, Tamiyah Audain, was diagnosed with autism and a debilitating genetic condition. The documents paint a picture of numerous missed warning signs by child welfare investigators, an overwhelmed caregiver — the girl’s maternal cousin– and a child who didn’t have to die.
A report states that “(Audain) is totally dependent on others for her needs and is unable to bathe, feed, or express herself.” Late Wednesday night, investigators were called to the apartment and found the girl dead.
The report on the girls’ death, written by a Broward Sheriff’s Office Child Protective Services investigator reads “The concern of (Law Enforcement Officer) was stench smell in bedroom, observed injury appearing to be bedsores and open wound to bone. (Audain) looked extremely underweight.”
Documents also show that the girl was absent from school for the past five weeks and that her caregiver — who agreed to take her in temporarily — complained repeatedly to a Child Advocate with ChildNet that she needed help but rarely received it.
A report says that, “…Cousin sought help for additional services and respite assistance from ChildNet and received it once for 4 hours.”
An investigative report says, “The Child Advocate made frequent home visits to the family but there is little documentation that any direct services were provided even though there were opportunities to assist the caregiver of this medically complex child with concrete services.”
For instance, the girl’s caregiver said she needed money to buy adult diapers for the girl but despite guarantees from ChildNet, no money came through. In another instance, despite a judge’s order to assist with the child’s insurance and medication needs there was no follow up by the Child Advocate, the report says.
The report says the ChildNet worker had no documented home visits with the child after July 30.
No one answered the door at the family apartment Friday night and one neighbor said he didn’t even realize Audain lived there. Internal emails obtained by The Miami Herald also show that the girl might have suffered abuse this past January.
“(Audain) has marks all over her body,” one of the emails says. “The marks are similar to dark bruises on the upper thigh and upper arm. The marks are ovular circle and the size of dollar coins. It is not known how (Audain) received the marks.”
The child was placed in the apartment with her cousin in December after her mother died and her grandparents were unable to care for her. It was expected that she would eventually live with an aunt out of state but ChildNet balked, reports say, because it wanted to find someone to adopt the girl.
In a statement, Alexis Lambert, Department of Children and Families Communications Director, said “At this time, we are still gathering all the details related to this case as it was handled by BSO and ChildNet. The case is still open and we aren’t in a position to provide comment.”
Lauderhill Police say they are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the child’s cause of death.
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