CLEVELAND-- Officials announced changes to the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services following the death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett.
Police and paramedics were called to an apartment in Euclid in March for an unresponsive child. Aniya 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, Sierra Day, and her mother's boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, 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.
On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish outlined steps to prevent future tragedies, as the investigation continues.
"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," Budish said in a news release on Tuesday.
Here is Budish's plan:
- Undertake a “listening tour” over the coming months, beginning on May 29th. We anticipate conducting a minimum of five events through June. This is designed to give members of the community a chance to speak directly with the leadership of DCFS; learn more about Ohio child protection laws, DCFS policies and procedures; and to engage the community to partner with the agency in keeping children safe. The first one will be held
on May 29, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Friendly Inn on Unwin Road in Cleveland.
- Launched a Customer Relationship Management program, which will allow county residents to register a social service complaint or concern via phone, email, or in person pertaining to either DCFS or Jobs & Family Services (JFS).
- 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 eight to 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.