CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has appointed a panel of child welfare experts to review the county's Children and Family Services Department in the wake of the death of Aniya Day-Garrett.
The panel has been asked to review the case and look into whether staff followed DCFS policies and procedure, to compare the timeline of responses and services to state guidelines, and assess whether the case work and investigation reflects solid child welfare practices.
Additionally, Budish asked the panel for recommendations that would help prevent another situation like this.
"Aniya Day-Garrett's death is a tragedy that tears at our hearts; our prayers are with all those who loved and cared for her. We will continue to cooperate with the prosecutor who is leading the criminal investigation of her mother and mother's boyfriend. And we too must thoroughly investigate the case and our practices at the Department of Children and Family Services. For that reason, I have appointed an independent review panel of six respected local and national experts," said County Executive Budish in a media release.
The experts include:
--David Crampton PH.D., Associate Professor of Social Work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at CWRU
--LaJean Ray, Director of the Fatima Family Center since 1997 and longtime community advocate
--Jan Flory, Child welfare expert with more than 30 years of experience including service with the New York City Division of Child Welfare
--Marsha Rose Wickliffe, Institute for Human Services, More than 30 years of child welfare experience, at the county, state, and national level with a focus on systems.
--Adam G. Jacobs, Ph.D., President of Wingspan Care Group
--Lolita McDavid, MD MPA, Medical Director, Child Advocacy and Protection UH Cleveland Medical Center; Professor, Pediatrics, CWRU School of Medicine
The experts have already started their review.
Around 11:30 a.m. on March 11, Euclid police and fire were called to Aniya's mother's home at the Cultural Garden Apartments on Lake Shore Boulevard for a report of an unresponsive child.
The 4-year-old girl died at the hospital. She suffered a stroke from blunt force trauma and also showed signs of malnourishment, according to officials.
There were 14 documented incidents before Aniya died. The Medical Examiner's Office said she suffered trauma to the head and weighed only 29 pounds.
Her mother Sierra Day and her boyfriend Deonte Lewis have been charged in her death with aggravated murder. They are being held on a $1 million bond each.
Children and Family Services confirmed they received three calls about the little girl and at some point opened a six-week investigation but they say there was not enough evidence to warrant the 4-year-old's removal from the home.
Her father, Mickhal Garrett, tried to gain custody of Aniya, according to court documents.