Kentucky Official: Child Abuse Death a Major Failure of Policy

Mar 12, 2013

A state official says there were “egregious” failures of Kentucky’s child-protection system leading up to the 2011 death of a Christian County toddler. Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James spoke Monday to an independent panel investigating the deaths or abused and neglected children. 

Three-year-old Alayna Adair died from head trauma, and her father is scheduled to go on trial in September for murder. Child-protection worker Donna Currey will go on trial in May. She resigned and was indicted for tampering with public records. 

Following Alayna’s death, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Currey was told to look into suspicious injuries on Alayna three weeks before her death. An internal probe found the Currey never saw the toddler and lied about investigating the complaint. 

Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James called the case unfortunate, but added she doesn’t believe it’s indicative of the work being done across the state by social workers. 

Governor Beshear appointed the review panel last year after the Herald-Leader and Courier-Journal sued the state to open the records of children who died or nearly died from abuse and neglect. 

In a case before the Kentucky Supreme Court, the newspapers and the state are battling over how much information should be available to the panel, which now is seeing only redacted case files.