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Even in Death, Disabled Child Serves as Example that Helped Pass Vital Law

Advocates for Florida’s at-risk children are watching closely as a case unfolds regarding the aftermath of the death of Tamiya Audain. The 12-year-old, severely disable child died when the caregiver in whose care she was placed while under the protection of the state neither fed nor appropriately cared for the girl, officials charge. Tamiya died from starvation last year.

Four women have been charged in connection with her death. But to child advocates and whose who support efforts to improve the oversight of children under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families and other local or state agencies, Tamiya’s death helped get passed critical legislation this year.

In fact, Tamiya became the example used by advocates to get the Florida Legislature to pass a law funding legal counsel for disabled kids.

HB 561 requires that the state pay for dependent children with special needs so they are appointed an attorney for representation in dependency cases. These can include the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Social Security Administration in applications and denials for benefits from the state and federal agencies and their school districts. Read a previous story here.

Under HB 561, the state will set aside $4.5 million to pay the cost of attorneys skilled in child representation cases, especially those concerning disabled and medically needy children. As has long been the case, some attorneys still may continue to provide their services in such cases on a pro bono basis. Read the Miami Herald story here.

Though a tragedy, Tamiya’s death already has served as a lasting legacy for other children under state care.


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