Cuyahoga County has convened an independent panel to review how the Department of Children and Family Services handled the case of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett. Its investigation is now underway.
On March 11 Aniya’s lifeless body was found by Euclid police inside her mother’s apartment. Two days later Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, were both charged with aggravated murder.
According to the medical examiner’s office, Aniya died of blunt force trauma to the head. Records kept by her daycare revealed that she had been a victim of abuse for three years. DCFS had been in contact with the mother Sierra Day on three occasions before she allegedly killed her daughter.
Last week News 5 spoke with DCFS officials, but they did not discuss this specific case, citing department policy and state privacy laws.
County Executive Armond Budish said the panel will consist of child welfare experts who will review the case and assess whether DCFS followed policies and procedures, evaluate how quickly the agency responded, and assess whether the casework reflected "solid child welfare practice.” The panel will also make recommendations on how to prevent a similar outcome for other children.
Budish said in a statement:
“Aniya Day-Garrett’s death is a tragedy that tears at our hearts; our prayers are with all those who loved and cared for her. We will continue to cooperate with the prosecutor who is leading the criminal investigation of her mother and mother’s boyfriend. And we too must thoroughly investigate the case and our practices at the Department of Children and Family Services. For that reason, I have appointed an independent review panel of six respected local and national experts.”
The experts appointed to the Child Welfare Review Panel:
- David Crampton PH.D., associate professor of social work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at CWRU
- LaJean Ray, director of the Fatima Family Center since 1997 and longtime community advocate
- Jan Flory, child welfare expert with more than 30 years of experience including service with the New York City Division of Child Welfare
- Marsha Rose Wickliffe, Institute for Human Services, more than 30 years of child welfare experience, at the county, state, and national level with a focus on systems
- Adam G. Jacobs, Ph.D., president of Wingspan Care Group
- Lolita McDavid, MD MPA, Medical director, Child Advocacy and Protection UH Cleveland Medical Center; professor, pediatrics, CWRU School of Medicine