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Friends, neighbors, and family line the street during a vigil for the Ta'Naja Barnes on Feb. 15 at 1845 E. North Street in Decatur. 

DECATUR — State lawmakers are holding a hearing Tuesday to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of 2-year-old Ta'Naja Barnes, who police say died from starvation and deprivation in Decatur.

The Department of Child and Family Services had been involved with the family from December 2017 to October 2018, when Ta'Naja was returned to her mother and mother's boyfriend following a court order. The two are charged with murder in the girl's Feb. 11 death, as well as endangering the life and health of a child through a combination of starvation and neglect.

Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, said she talked to the Inspector General, Department of Child and Family Services and the chairman of the House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee to request the hearing. She said they want to figure out happened and how to go forward to improve the system.

Scherer said committee members will focus on the question, "How do we make things better?"

Ta'Naja's mother, Twanka L. Davis, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to murder charges. Myers, who is not Ta'Naja's biological father but described himself to police as her parent, has not yet appeared in court. 

The agency's interim director, Debra Dyer-Webster, said it would review its involvement with Ta'Naja and her family. “We have a responsibility to the children and families we serve to provide the best possible care, and we are committed to understanding where we come up short and striving to do better,” Dyer-Webster said in a statement released Wednesday. 

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in Room 122B in the state Capitol building. 

This story will be updated. 

Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. 


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