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Statement on Improvements to Department of Children and Family Services

5/15/2018


Media Contact:
Jeane’ Holley: (216) 698-2544; jholley@cuyahogacounty.us


CUYAHOGA COUNTY - Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cynthia Weiskittel, Director, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, issued the following statements:

 Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish stated, “The County Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) works to protect children who are abused or neglected. On March 11, 2018, a four-year old child, Aniya Day-Garrett, was killed, allegedly by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. This tragedy is truly heartbreaking. No child in danger should fall through the cracks. For this reason, I appointed an independent panel of experts to fully review this case as well as our entire processes, and to make recommendations to avoid tragedy in the future. The panel has been conducting its review and we hope to hear from them in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I along with staff of the DCFS have met with a number of concerned citizens, including the father of Aniya Day-Garrett. As a result of these meetings and internal discussions, we have decided to take the following actions to help improve our procedures and avoid tragedy in the future:
  1. Undertake a “listening tour” over the coming months, beginning on May 29th. We anticipate conducting a minimum of five events through June. This is designed to give members of the community a chance to speak directly with the leadership of DCFS; learn more about Ohio child protection laws, DCFS policies and procedures; and to engage the community to partner with the agency in keeping children safe.

    Community Forum/Listening Tour Kick-Off:
    May 29, 2018, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    Friendly Inn, 2386 Unwin Rd., Cleveland, OH 44104
     
  2. Today, we launched a Customer Relationship Management program, which will allow county residents to register a social service complaint or concern via phone, email, or in person pertaining to either DCFS or Jobs & Family Services (JFS). 
  3. Assign a Sheriff’s Deputy to assist DCFS with investigations. 
  4. Increase the number of licensed social workers in DCFS. 
  5. Ask Council to create an ongoing Citizens Advisory Board made up of 8-10 members of the community. The Board will provide independent perspective and feedback to county and DCFS leadership on an ongoing basis, and will be a link between DCFS and the community we serve.

We expect that these steps will improve the services DCFS provides to our citizens, and will better protect our children. And we may take additional actions following the report from the expert panel.”


Cynthia Weiskittel, Director, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, stated, “I believe strongly in creating a culture of learning, self-evaluation, evidence-based practice, and continuous improvement at DCFS. For decades this agency has worked to be on the leading edge of child welfare practice and will continue to do the hard work our mission demands of us.”