CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - On Monday, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services Director Cynthia Weiskittel announced changes are coming after the tragic death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett.
"The County Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) works to protect children who are abused or neglected. On March 11, 2018, a four-year old child, Aniya Day-Garrett, was killed, allegedly by her mother and her mother's boyfriend. This tragedy is truly heartbreaking. No child in danger should fall through the cracks. For this reason, I appointed an independent panel of experts to fully review this case as well as our entire processes, and to make recommendations to avoid tragedy in the future. The panel has been conducting its review and we hope to hear from them in the coming weeks..." said Budish in a prepared statement.
Aniya was found unresponsive by Euclid police and firefighters at her mother's house at the Cultural Garden Apartments. She died at ths hospital and investigators say she suffered a stroke from blunt force trauma. Aniya also showed signs of malnourishment.
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.
After meeting and listening to the community -- including Aniya's father, Mickhal Garrett -- Budish said the county will launch a "listening tour," which will consist of at least five events.
The tour will give the community a chance to speak directly with the leadership of DCFS; learn more about Ohio child protection laws, DCFS policies and to partner with the agency in keeping children safe.
The first event will take place on May 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Friendly Inn, located at 2386 Unwin Road in Cleveland.
Other new initiatives include:
- Assign a Sheriff’s Deputy to assist DCFS with investigations.
- Increase the number of licensed social workers in DCFS.
- Ask Council to create an ongoing Citizens Advisory Board made up of 8-10 members of the community. The Board will provide independent perspective and feedback to county and DCFS leadership on an ongoing basis, and will be a link between DCFS and the community we serve.
A customer Relationship Management program has also been launched, which will allow county residents to register a social service complaint or concern via phone, email, or in person pertaining to either DCFS or Job & Family Services (JFS).
"I believe strongly in creating a culture of learning, self-evaluation, evidence-based practice, and continuous improvement at DCFS. For decades this agency has worked to be on the leading edge of child welfare practice and will continue to do the hard work our mission demands of us," said Weiskittel in a prepared statement.