CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services has submitted a plan to the state for correcting issues state investigators found in how the county handled reports of abuse involving 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett.
Among other things, the plan calls for the county to hire more caseworkers as well as retired law enforcement officers to assist with investigations and to train staff to better assess a child‘s safety.
The plan is in response to a report released earlier this month by state investigators, who found that Aniya had told caseworkers her mother had hurt her a year before her death, and the caseworkers dismissed the statements.
Aniya died in March from a stroke triggered by blunt force trauma to her head. Her mother and the mother‘s boyfriend are accused of killing the girl and await trial on aggravated murder charges.
County case workers investigated a total of four reports of abuse against Aniya between February 2017 and her death, but did not find cause to remove her from her mother‘s home, county officials have said.
A scathing report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services found that workers failed to follow protocols, made few face-to-face contacts with the child, ignored two years’ worth of injuries reported by Aniya’s daycare provider, and didn’t check whether the girl’s mother attended parental counseling.
The county’s plan calls for:
Training staff to ensure that critical thinking and clinical supervision are used when assessing a child‘s safety.
hiring 12 caseworkers to bring the child-protection staff to 500.
requiring managers to sign off on closing an investigations if complaints are made about a child three or more times in one year, or four or more times in five years.
implementing a plan to strengthen caseworkers‘ interview skills “so that the child‘s voice is heard” during investigations.
developing a Child Advocate Center with law enforcement, medical and mental- health workers, domestic-violence experts and the United Way.
moving forward with an already-established plan to hire a sheriff’s deputy plus 10 retired law enforcement officers to assist with investigations.
developing a plan to ensure timely contact is made with a child, family, or relevant parties when an investigation is opened.
developing a plan to ensure any person identified as having information about potential abuse or neglect is contacted by caseworkers.
developing a plan to ensure that a non-custodial parent with an ongoing relationship with a child is updated about investigations involving that child.
developing a plan to ensure cases are categorized properly, so that caseworkers respond appropriately to specific allegations of abuse or neglect.
developing a plan to ensure caseworkers follow up with community organizations to see if parents or family members have received parenting and other services.