CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Child Welfare Review Panel reviewing children services case handling of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett is expected to complete their investigation by mid-May, according to a county spokeswoman.
The Child Welfare Review Panel is also inspecting Cuyahoga County Department of Family Services procedures.
In a March 27 news release, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish stated that "Aniya Day-Garrett's death is a tragedy" and that they too "must thoroughly investigate the case and our practices at the Department of Children and Family Services." Executive Budish compiled a panel of six local and national experts to review Aniya's case and the county's procedures.
Why is it taking so long to review a case now that only took CCCFS six weeks to close the books on?
Aniya Day-Garrett, age 4, of Euclid, Ohio was known to the Cuyahoga County Children Department of Children and Family Services system at the time of her death. CCCFS had recently investigated complaints of abuse and neglect against Aniya, but after six weeks, said there wasn't enough evidence to remove her from her mother, Sierra Day's home.
On March 11, Aniya died in her mother's apartment. Sierra Day and her mother's boyfriend Deonte Lewis were both arrested, charged and later indicted for Aniya's murder. According to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office, Aniya was malnourished and died from head trauma complications. The full autopsy report is not yet available.
Could the Cuyahoga County Children Protective Service workers have saved Aniya's life?
There are growing concerns over who could have stopped Aniya's death. Did CCCFS have enough evidence to have removed Aniya from her home when CCCFS investigated her case in May 2017? After all, the county did receive three calls regarding Aniya being abused in 2017. In addition to those calls, Aniya's father Mickhal Garrett had recently filed an affidavit with Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court in December 2017 to get the process rolling to gain back custody of Aniya. In a letter to the court, Garrett stated he felt his daughter was being abused at home. He said he had a home where Aniya could even have her own room.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services investigated two childcare facilities after a complaint was filed following Aniya Day-Garrett's death. ODJFS found that Harbor Crest Childcare Academy and Get Ready, Get Set, Grow Preschool both in Euclid, Ohio failed to report injury and incidents observations to public children service agencies, as they are mandated by the state to do so. Aniya attended Harbor Crest between 2015 and 2017 and Get Ready, Get Set, Grow from June 2017 through the time of her death. It's also been reported that Aniya's mother worked at Get Ready, Get Set, Grow.
At Harbor Crest, there were child observation forms sitting in Aniya Day-Garrett's folder untouched between August 2015 – May 2017. It was only when Aniya arrived to Harbor Crest in May 2017 with visible head trauma and was bleeding from the ear that the facility called for an ambulance and turned over the "child observation forms" that were stacking up in her folder at the center. Reports that said "mommy did it."
At Get Ready, Get Set, Grow the ODJFS also discovered that the facility was not reporting abuse and neglect, injuries and incidents to local public children service agencies. The facility also wasn't maintaining "Incident/Injury Report For Child Care" for a minimum of one year. It's believed that Aniya Day-Garrett's mother was employed at this facility, although the facility itself has yet to release confirmation and has now obtained a lawyer.
Two daycares, a public children service agency, and a juvenile court case all involved in this 4-year-old's life and still she dies from abuse and neglect. Will anyone else face criminal charges for potentially contributing to her death? Will any public children service agency worker be disciplined or terminated for lack of investigation or for potentially mishandling Aniya's case?
Why is it taking two months to review a case that only took Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services six weeks to close the book on?
We've followed up with Cuyahoga County. We're asking how often the panel of Child Welfare Experts is meeting weekly, what progress they've made and why it's going to take them so long to review such an important case.