Family, friends and activists rallied yesterday in downtown Cleveland demanding an investigation into Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services after the death of 4-year-old Aniya Day-Garrett.
The girl died last Sunday from a stroke caused by blunt impacts to her head. Investigators noted the child appeared severely malnourished and had scald marks on her feet and hands. Her mother, Sierra Day, and Day's boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, have been charged with aggravated murder.
"We want [the agency] held accountable," the girl's father, Mickhal Garrett, said during the rally
. "They failed me. They failed all of us. Nobody should have to go through what we went through."
He and other family members had been concerned about Aniya's well-being for some time. Garrett was also in the midst of court proceedings to attempt to regain custody.
Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services had been prompted three times last year to investigate alleged abuse against Aniya, but social workers didn't find reason to remove the girl from her mother's home. An internal investigation is underway.
“We know that we are expected to see and recognize patterns of abuse and neglect and if the internal investigation determines we did something wrong there will be discipline," county spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan said in a statement.
One of those three calls to CCCFS came last May after the owner of the daycare facility that watched Aniya called Euclid police to report that the girl showed repeated signs of abuse — "bruises, bumps and cuts on a regular basis" — and that she told staff that her mother abused her.
That report, obtained by WKYC
(which you can read below), notes that when police arrived that day Aniya had dried blood on the inside of her left ear, large scabs covering the majority of her nose, and abrasions on her scalp. The daycare owner, who took possession of the operation in 2017, had made an incident report and in doing so found that there were previous reports detailing signs of abuse dating back to 2015. Those were provided to the officer and the county social worker who arrived at the hospital.
Sierra Day, when interviewed by the officer, blamed the abuse on the daycare center and said that Aniya frequently lies.
The 14 total reports of abuse compiled by the daycare center:
September 2015 – Bruise to right side of face, looked like hand print.
October 22, 2015 - Bruise to 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 removed some bandages from 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 the 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 that it happened at Applebee's.
December 2, 2016 - Bruise on left? Aniya stated that mom has been hitting her.
December 6, 2016 - Rug burn type sear on left elbow. Aniya stated that mom hit her.
December 27, 2016 - Bruise on forehead. Aniya stated that mom and dad did it. 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 everyday 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 park. Child says mommy pushed her down at home.
May 18, 2017 - Right side of head and ear. Swollen and dried blood.
Aniya is at least the fourth young child who's allegedly died of abuse and neglect despite visits from county social workers in recent memory. Activists who rallied yesterday asked also that the community remember Ta'Naejah McCloud, Jordan Rodriguez and Alexandria Hamilton.