JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Tausha Rawls and Melody Vaughn were awarded the first ever Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service in Child Protection and Well-Being.
This comes after the two rescued a 10-year-old in what’s being called one of the worst cases of child abuse in Madison County.
“We’re going to recognize these two heroes because that child is alive today because of their heartfelt determination,” says the governor.
It was around New Year’s Eve when Tausha Rawls was assigned to investigate a tip. A young child hadn’t been seen at a Canton apartment complex for quite some time.
“I’m glad that I wasn’t lazy about my job and that I was able to go in, make an assessment, find out if the parents were lying
and ultimately we were able to save a life,” says Rawls.
Rawls and her supervisor Melody Vaughn eventually discovered that the 10-year-old boy was malnourished, neglected and locked away in a closet. At the time, the child only weighed about 41 pounds.
“This child had never been in school ever and couldn’t even tell us his full name. Therefore this child is in foster care and thriving and in school for the first time and just doing extremely well as well as the other siblings,” explains Vaughn.
Seven other children were removed from the home and are in foster care. The parents, Anthony Holiday and Latasha Leonard were charged with felony counts of child abuse and neglect. They’ve sent been indicted and will go to trial on December 4th.
“We don’t know what would have happened to this child. Our jobs are so important, and we work hard to save children’s lives,” adds Vaughn. “We get a bad rep sometimes in child protective services, but this is a prime example that there are some of us out here doing the job. And it’s not to remove kids from families; it’s that sometimes we have to believe that something has happened and prove that it has not.”