Role of DCFS workers questioned after two-year-old dies


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    Decatur Police said Ta'naja Barnes died at her mother's house from neglect and was found wrapped in a blanket covered in urine.

    The autopsy also found Ta'naja was extremely malnourished and dehydrated.

    The mother Twan’ka Davis was charged Wednesday with murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering the life and health of a child.

    Ta'naja's father said he tried to intervene but DCFS failed his daughter.

    In 2018, Ta'naja Barnes and her younger brother were recommended to remain with her mother.

    But her father, Dartavious Barnes and his fiancé now claim that decision by the court cost Ta'naja her life.

    "That's all he talked about. He never gave up and now he can't do nothing about it," Step-mother of the victim Megan Harris said.

    Ta’naja was found unresponsive on February 11th with dirty hands, feet and her face along with a core temperature so low no device could register it, leaving her father wondering how this slipped through DCFS.

    "I've been begging y'all and asking y'all for help. I begged y'all and asked y'all and y'all didn't help me," Father of the victim Dartavious Barnes said.

    DCFS confirmed they had prior contact with Twan'ka because of prior allegations of abuse and neglect.

    Though in 2018’s permanency case, she is listed as someone who complied with services and assured her children's needs were met.

    But one former DCFS worker said the check-in process after returning a child should be thorough.

    "You can't just go by someone's word. You can't really go by what you hear in a telephone call. It's that unannounced visit where you just pop in and just see what's going on," Former DCFS worker Mary Beth Ray said.

    Abuse, neglect and dependency are the three main issues DCFS will claim and bring to juvenile court.

    "It should definitely be a concern to D-C-F-S and I think that it's something that they need to check into to see," Ray said.

    But as more details emerge of Ta'naja's condition, the question remains of who is responsible.

    Reporter: "Do you believe the system failed her?"

    "Well, obviously somebody failed her because this happened," said Ray.

    DCFS said another child was in the home where the two-year-old was found.

    He has been taken into DCFS custody while they investigate abuse allegations.

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