On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced the formation of a panel of child welfare experts to review the case of Aniya Day-Garrett.
The 4-year-old died of a stroke brought on by blows to the head. Aniya's mother, Sierra Day, and her boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, have been charged in the murder.
Day care workers detailed 14 instances of possible abuse inflicted upon Aniya last year in a Euclid Police report, yet the state of Ohio says it never got anything from the day care. They’re now looking into whether the workers properly reported Aniya’s injuries.
“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.
The panel will focus on three key points:
- Reviewing the case and assessing whether staff followed DCFS policies and procedures
- Comparing the time line of responses and services to the state guidelines for response times
- Assessing whether the investigation and case work reflect solid child welfare practice.
Budish has also requested the panel provide recommendations to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.
Social activist groups, including Black Lives Matter and Black on Black Crime were represented at Tuesday's Council meeting. Community members voiced their concerns that the Cuyahoga County Family Services has failed not only Aniya, but other infants as well.
“Something is systemically wrong with children and family services that 45 children in the last two years have lost their life. How do you answer for that?” asked Latonya Goldsby
Black Lives Matter Cleveland Co-Founder.
They pointed to the cases of Ta’Naejah McCloud and Jordan Rodriguez, both 5 years old, who were killed in cases that the parent is accused of the murder.
“You could have investigated this when they were alive and still have these babies,” said Devinah Giles, Guardian for Ta'naejah McCloud's brother.
A mother from Euclid, Lizzanya Medlock also stood in front of the council, expressing her frustrations with the system. She said because of a DUI, she lost custody of her son.
Despite getting help for her alcohol addiction and following the directions issued by the courts, she told the council she has yet to reunited with her son.
“I'm terrified for my son,” said Medlock. “He's being burned, and nobody knows anything except for this guardian that didn't notify anyone.”
Her biggest concern is that her son is not being properly cared for by her step-brother. She shared with pictures of him with burn marks.
You can watch the Cuyahoga County Council meeting from WKYC's Facebook Live in the player below: