Two daycare centers may lose their child care licenses following an investigation by state officials into the death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services sent letters to each daycare center last month. While the licenses have not been revoked at this time, the process for their forfeiture has started.
The letters state that ODJFS, "proposes to enter an adjudication order to revoke the child care center licenses" of each daycare center.
Contrary to what other news sources are reporting, the decisions are not final, and the childcare facilities have 30 days to appeal the decision.
ODJFS launched investigations into Get Ready, Set, Grow Child Care Center and Harbor Crest Childcare Academy and found they failed to report suspicions Aniya had been abused.
Get Ready, Set, Grow was cited last month. The inspection report states the facility "failed to immediately notify their local public children services agency of suspicions that a child had been abused or neglected."
Scott Fromson, one of the attorneys representing the owner and administrator of Get Ready, Set, Grow, told News 5 his clients will fight the allegations. Iran Doss, the owner of the daycare, said the facility did not report suspicions Aniya was being abused because they never suspected the abuse.
Additionally, the state cited other minor violations in its intent to revoke the center's license, he said.
Fromson said Get Ready, Set, Grow corrected the minor issues relatively quickly. The fact that the state is bringing those issues up again shows the state is "trying to pile on," Fromson said.
"It is incredibly disingenuous to do this now," Fromson said. "It's also a shame that the [Cuyahoga County a Division of Children and Family Services] didn't make the same effort when Aniya was still alive."
As News 5 first reported, officials from CCDCFS made the initial complaints that prompted the state's investigation in the weeks that followed Aniya's death. At the time the complaints were made, the agency was under intense scrutiny for the way it handled Aniya's case. A county spokeswoman said the agency had three prior investigations into allegations that Aniya was being abused. However, none of those investigations turned up enough cause to remove the girl from the home, the spokeswoman said.
Furthermore, the owner of Get Ready, Set, Grow said Aniya's mother and alleged killer, Sierra Day, once worked at the daycare. The daycare's owner said if he or anyone else had suspected Sierra was abusing Aniya, he would have reported those suspicions and fired Day immediately in order to protect his clients' children and his business.
The inspection report that resulted in the state's citations against Get Ready, Set, Grow cited very little evidence supporting the state's allegations, according to Fromson and Doss.
"They're passing the blame onto my clients," Fromson said. "The state should be pointing to CCDCFS instead of us."
Fromson also pointed to the daycare's recent move to a new building on Brush Avenue in mid-February. Fromson said he wonders if the state approved of the daycare's recent move despite prior minor violations, why would those same violations be cited in the state's attempts to have the daycare's license revoked.
A state spokeswoman said past compliance is not considered when approving a change in location.
In addition to Get Ready, Set, Grow's inspection, Harbor Crest was cited by ODJFS for a similar infraction.
According to ODJFS, Harbor Crest Childcare Academy failed to notify the state when childcare workers contacted EMS to transport Aniya for medical treatment in May 2017 .
The Harbor Crest owners denied allegations that the daycare didn't report the abuse.
The letters contain a number of infractions that prompted state officials to take steps to rescind licenses at both facilities.
The investigations into the daycare centers started when authorities looked into the circumstances involving Aniya's death and her family history. According to police, the girl's abuse had been documented for several years by one of the daycare center's.
On March 11, 2018, Aniya’s body was found by Euclid police inside her mother’s apartment. An autopsy revealed she died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Two days later, Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, were both charged with aggravated murder.