CLEVELAND- The father of Aniya Day Garrett is reacting to the plan to fix the system that failed in the case of his daughter, a 4-year-old recently murdered after repeated reports of abuse to Cuyahoga County child welfare workers.
The I-TEAM revealed the “corrective action plan”, and Mickhal Garrett spoke out.
He said, "The county failed me and my daughter, Aniya Marie Garrett. These proposed corrective actions are clear acknowledgment of the county's failure in my daughter's case."
The I-TEAM also recently revealed a state review of the case, critical of how the county agency handled it all, and now we have the county’s response.
The county told the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services of promises for significant new training, rewriting policies and hiring more staff.
Aniya Day Garrett died earlier this year, and investigators have indicted her mother for murder, along with mom’s boyfriend.
The state report found local child welfare workers did 5 investigations into the suspected abuse. In one, workers never even saw Aniya face-to-face. Twice, she said, “Mommy did it.” And workers never checked after the mother promised to get counseling and other services.
Despite that history, the child had never been taken out of the home by the county.
Now, thecounty is beginning new training for all staff to “improve critical thinking, problem resolution and overall child welfare knowledge.” Supervisors will also undergo additional training.
Meantime, the county is also reviewing policies by looking at whether the emphasis is on parental rights or child safety. The report to the state says, “Policies are being re-written with a focus of child safety.”
The county agency is also hiring 12 more case workers and 10 retired law enforcement officers to help with investigations.
Additionally, the county is starting new plans for managers to review cases moving through the system especially those including “investigations with 3 or more referrals in one year or 4 or more referrals in 5 years...”
Garrett added, "We want to see more changes like this to protect our children."
Weeks ago, the I-TEAM sat down with top managers at the Department of Children and Family Services. However, they refused to get into specifics about the Aniya investigations claiming they didn’t want to hurt the criminal case moving through the courts.
They also have repeatedly refused to reveal if any workers have been disciplined in connection with the handling of the Aniya Day Garrett case.
The criminal trial is coming up soon. Mom now has been sent to the court psych clinic. Doctors are determining her sanity at the time of the crime.
This comes as the State is moving to take away the licenses of two day care centers attended by Aniyah. The State found both centers failed to report suspected abuse and neglect of the child. Hearings concerning the day care licenses are coming up soon.
Meantime, Garrett is pushing for new laws to hold child welfare workers more accountable.
He said, "Change starts now. We want justice for Aniya, and justice for all. “