Denette Allali takes comfort in playing with her granddaughter, Kayla.
She says Kayla keeps her going after the death of her older granddaughter, 5-year-old Elizabeth.
"I loved her, her sister loved her and now she’s in Heaven with her great grandma wrapped her hands around her and she’s being loved," said Allali.
Denette says it breaks her heart Kayla will never know her sister. After Elizabeth died in foster care, the grandmother says she now has custody of Kayla.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office admits wrongdoing in handling Elizabeth’s case, saying the child should have had a health screening within 72 hours of being removed from her parents’ Clearwater home. But that never happened.
The girls’ grandmother says she tried getting custody when the mother was arrested and accused of child neglect. She says she couldn’t because she lived with her boyfriend who didn’t agree to take the girls in.
"They had to have his permission to allow the children in and if I owned it and it was my place, I could’ve just brought them in." said Allali.
Denette says she is now living with a friend who agreed to take Kayla in. She says she wasn’t aware of any health problems Elizabeth was having when she died.
The Sheriff’s Office says preliminary reports showed no signs of abuse or physical injury.
Autopsy results could take up to 90 days.
The Sheriff said it's not known if the death of the child could have been prevented with the screening, but a review of policies and procedures surrounding child removal is underway.