Father of murdered 4-year-old speaks about Cuyahoga County Children Services, calls for change

CLEVELAND-- The father of a murdered 4-year-old girl responded to changes to the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services and called for new laws.

Police and paramedics were called to an apartment in Euclid in March for an unresponsive child.  The girl, 4-year-old Aniya Day Garrett, had burn marks on her feet and legs, and she appeared emaciated, according to police reports. She was taken to Euclid Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Her mother and her mother's boyfriend were charged with aggravated murder, murder, permitting child abuse, endangering children and tampering with evidence.

Since her passing, the little girl's father, Michael Garrett, and community activists have called for changes to the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.

"I want to bring awareness to a lack of protection the state of Ohio provided my daughter, which eminently contributed to her demise," Garrett said. "They failed my daughter, they failed me." He said allegations of abuse were reported 10 times before her death.

On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish outlined steps to prevent future tragedies, which include assigning a deputy to help with children services investigations and creating a citizens advisory board.

Garrett said these improvements are wonderful, but it's not enough. He said he set up the Justice for Aniya Foundation to change state laws protecting case workers from prosecution.

"My rights as a father were void. I was muted until my daughter's life was lost. Even after making countless reports on Aniya's behalf, they were all dismissed and ignored," Garrett said. "Because of her mother's behavior and the lack of due diligence of the behalf of the caseworkers involved with the countless reports of abuse, my daughter is one of many victims failed by the system made to protect them and safeguard their livelihood," Garrett said.

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