Toddler's 2009 death tragically highlights problems of child protection and meth, Rep. Gregory says

01/12/2012 07:20 AM

The June 2009 death of a toddler in Wayne County tragically underscored Kentucky’s struggles with two issues: keeping at-risk children safe and the methamphetamine epidemic.

Kayden Branham was not quite 2 years old when he picked up a mug and drank its contents. It was drain cleaner, which authorities say was being used to make methamphetamine in the house.

Authorities charged Branham’s teenage parents with murder and for making meth.

State records later revealed that Branham’s grandmother expressed concern to social workers that the home might have been used as a meth lab, but the warning wasn’t heeded, as the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal have reported.

Republican state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello represents that county in the House. She recently said on Pure Politics that Branham’s death reveals the need for reforms in child protection and meth laws.

“I think our social workers, by and large, are overworked and underpaid,” Gregory said at 0:30 of the interview. “I don’t want to point the finger at a particular problem because I don’t have the answer yet in that case. But it’s pretty clear that the system failed that child.”

Gregory, unlike some other Republican lawmakers, said she believes the secretary of the Health and Family Services Cabinet, Janie Miller, is doing “a fairly good job with all the difficult things she’s been handling.”

Gregory also said she supports requiring prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Listen to that part of the discussion at 3:45 of the interview.

The House and Senate judiciary committees are scheduled to take up meth-related proposals at meetings starting at 10 a.m. Thursday.


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