I TEAM: Uncovering more gaps in system to protect children

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has uncovered more gaps in the system to protect children, and what we found happened long before the current firestorm over the death of Aniya Day-Garrett.

State and local investigations now are focusing on how Cuyahoga County child welfare workers handled complaints Aniya was abused before she was murdered.

Now the I TEAM has found, in 2016, a state agency discovered breakdowns in the same system to protect kids. And, despite that, last year the state didn’t even review how the County handled the case of Ta’Naejah McCloud. She was murdered in Cleveland even after complaints to child welfare workers about abuse. Loved ones reacted to the I TEAM findings of no state review.

Sierra Giles said, "It honestly makes me feel mad. I'm disappointed. I feel failed. Why didn't they investigate it?”

Cuyahoga County leaders just set up an outside panel to review the death of Aniya Day-Garrett. And the I TEAM asked for reviews done by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for other child fatality cases over the past two years.

One case bounced between Cuyahoga and Medina County agencies. That involved the mysterious death of a child. Her father, Eric Warful, plead guilty to Gross Abuse of a Corpse and more. A state review found, the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services “…was not in compliance…with completing investigations timely…completing case plans…and making required face-to-face contact with the family.”

The I TEAM has learned, after Ta’Naejah died, two child welfare workers resigned before getting disciplined. Cuyahoga County started new training for workers to spot specific kinds of abuse. Yet, that didn’t spark a state review.

Giles added, "If they was facing disciplinary action, where was the mistake made? And what was it? And how come we wasn't notified about it?”

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services issued a statement:

“Ohio’s children services system is state-supervised and county-administered, which means the county public children services agencies serve on the front lines protecting children, and the state provides oversight of their adherence to federal and state laws and policies and works with them to create safer environments for children. The state takes the safety and security of children very seriously. At a minimum, state inspectors review county children services agencies every two years for compliance with law and policy. If we become aware of issues with noncompliance, we may conduct an administrative review on a specific case outside the regular review cycle, as we did with the case review we provided yesterday, and as we are with the Aniya Day-Garrett case. We did not conduct a review in the Ta’Naejah McCloud case.”

Activists including LaTonya Goldsby plan to keep pushing for more accountability at the state and local levels when a child dies in the system to protect kids. Goldsby said, “To me, it’s astounding the number of times that this has happened."

More on this, here.