State review: Cuyahoga County child welfare workers failed in case of murdered 4-year-old

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has learned a state review found Cuyahoga County child welfare workers failed again and again in the case of Aniya Day Garrett, a 4-year-old murdered in March.

Her mother and mother's boyfriend are facing charges.

But, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reviewed how the county handled five investigations into suspected abuse of the child. The state found tips came in more than a year before the child was murdered.

Yet, in one case, a caseworker never saw the child face to face.

Caseworkers didn't take the child away even after the child told caseworkers in two investigations, "Mommy did it."

The review also found, three times, the mother agreed to get counseling and community services to help with raising Aniya, but the mother never followed through. And, case workers never checked either.

The state, months ago, started the process of trying to close two day care centers for not reporting suspected abuse of Aniya. And this report shows, when those reports finally came to light, case workers didn't get copies of those reports, or consider them.

Cuyahoga County has refused to reveal if any social services workers involved in this case have been disciplined in any way.

The county had its own outside panel review the case, but when the I-TEAM requested the report, much of it was heavily blacked out.

Aniya's father had gone to juvenile court before the child died, trying to raise concerns about her safety. But, the state review shows county caseworkers never contacted him during three investigations, saying they had no way to get in touch with him.

However, the state review found the father's contact information was on file, and he had an active child support order in place.

County Executive Armond Budish issued a statement to the I-TEAM about the state's findings. The statement said, in part,

“We shall be responding in detail to the state report with our full corrective action plan and specific details. Our goal is to do everything possible to assure that every child in this county is safe and free from child abuse and neglect.”

The County also repeated what it's earlier response to Aniya's death -- more social workers are being hired, and so are retired law enforcement officers to help with investigations. The county is also increasing training for child welfare workers.

Court records show Sierra Day, Aniya's mother, and Deonte Lewis, her mother's boyfriend, could face trial before the end of this year.

Continuing coverage of this story here