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State investigating if girl's daycare failed to follow child abuse reporting laws prior to her death

Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 18:30:27-04

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services officials have confirmed regulators were investigating whether the daycare officials that once watched over Aniya Day-Garrett properly followed state laws requiring them to report suspected abuse or neglect.

The state inquiry comes as a Euclid police report from 2017 shows a prior administrator at Harbor Crest Childcare Academy documented injuries on Aniya’s body a total of 14 times between late 2015 and mid-2017.

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. She was also emaciated, officials said.

RELATED: Father of 4-year-old Euclid girl feared for her life months before her death

Ohio is one of 48 states that has a law on the books that requires a wide range of professionals, including teachers and daycare administrators to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It remains unclear if county social workers were properly notified each and every time daycare providers suspected Aniya was being abused by her mother.

RELATED: Mother, boyfriend charged with aggravated murder in death of 4-year-old Euclid girl

“ODJFS child care licensing has initiated an investigation of the child care center (Harbor Crest) to determine if the center met the mandated reporter requirements in Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code,” said spokesman Bret Crow. “Complaint investigations are typically completed within 30 days.”

According to state records, state officials inspected Harbor Crest in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as part of an annual review. As part of that inspection, state regulators ensure that a daycare center is abiding by the state’s mandatory reporting laws.

“During annual inspections, all licensing rules are assessed, which include mandated reporting requirements,” Crow said in a statement. “During the inspection on 2/8/18, there were no known issues with the program failing to report suspected child abuse or neglect, therefore, the program was not cited.  Licensing specialists investigate all complaints where there is an allegation that a child care center failed to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect.”

Harbor Crest officials have previously told News 5 that they did what they were required to do under the state’s mandatory reporting law. A previous administrator claims she notified the state that she suspected Aniya was being abused in 2016. However, state officials told News 5 they have no record of a report being filed.

Cynthia Weiskittel, the director of the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, said the state’s mandatory reporting laws are quite clear.

“They should report every time they have a suspicion of abuse or neglect, each and every time,” Weiskittel said. “They’re required by law. Every single time. Pick up the phone and call us.”

In 2017, Harbor Crest’s current administrator did, in fact, notify the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services after she noticed Aniya had blood coming from her ear. Upon calling police, the current administrator found a stack of 14 reports compiled by a past administrator documenting a series of injuries that daycare staff noticed on Aniya’s body.

RELATED: Abuse of slain 4-year-old Euclid girl had been documented since 2015

According to police, the daycare's incident reports concerning Aniya included:  

  • September 17,  2015: Bruise to right side of face, looked like a hand print.  
  • October 22, 2015: Bruise to the right side of face, looked like a hand print. Child cried most of the day.
  • September 12, 2016: Bruises on face, eye and arm. Mother stated that Aniya had fallen out of bed and she had removed some bandages where Aniya had gotten shots.
  • September 21, 2016: Bruises on her face, under her eye and on her eye lid. Aniya stated that mom did it.
  • October 25, 2016: Bump on head. Aniya was crying.
  • December 1, 2016: Aniya had a bruise under her right eye and was crying. Aniya stated that mom had hit her. Mom stated it happened at Applebee’s
  • December 2, 2016: Bruise on left? (sic) Aniya stated that mom had been hitting her.
  • December 6, 2016: Rug burn type scar on left elbow. Aniya said that mom hit her.
  • December 27, 2016: Bruise on forehead. Mommy hit me.
  • January 18, 2017: Aniya came to school with several bruises on the face, arm and back. Aniya has a raised bruise on her left upper forearm. When asked about it, Aniya stated that her mommy had scratched her.
  • February 10, 2017: Aniya has a dark-colored bruise under her left eye. Aniya stated that mom did this. Staff had noticed bruises on her every day when she comes in.
  • March 14, 2017: Right side of lip. Busted lip.
  • May 15, 2017: Scrape on top and under nose. Mother said child fell at the park. Child says mommy pushed her down at home.
  • May 18, 2017: Right side of head and ear. Swollen and dried blood.

News 5 has attempted to reach Harbor Crest for comment on the state’s investigation. Those attempts have been unsuccessful.

CCDCFS officials have previously stated there were three prior, closed investigations into suspected abuse or neglect in the Aniya Day case. In each case, officials said the agency did not have enough cause – enough evidence – to remove Aniya from the home. The agency is conducting an internal investigation into its handling of the Aniya’s cases, which is standard procedure in any child’s death or near-death incident.