A Jasper County woman is in jail facing two felony charges after her baby and her toddler tested positive for methamphetamine, Investigator J.D,. Carter of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Amber Kay Ratcliff, 27, was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and booked into the Jones County Adult Detention Center after being taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon. She was set to make her initial appearance in Justice Court on Wednesday.
Ratcliff was living on Brown Drive, in the Powers Community, when Child Protective Services received a report that Ratcliff was “dodging prenatal care” and doing meth while she was pregnant, Carter said.
The baby was born in June and was negative for the drug then — but Ratcliff admitted to using the drug early in her pregnancy, Carter said. Hair-follicle tests that were done later showed that Ratcliff’s baby and 3-year-old were positive for two kinds of amphetamines and meth.
That means that the children either “ingested the substance” or “absorbed it” while it was being smoked near them, Carter said.
“People shouldn’t be doing meth in the first place, but they really shouldn’t be doing it in the presence of their kids,” Carter said. “They’re not even developed yet, so there’s no telling what this does to them. I’ve seen meth babies grow up and struggle in school and with socialization.
“Some people say that the parents who do stuff like this are sick and should be helped ... but they’re not thinking of their children when they do stuff like this. We have to protect the children and the parents have to be punished. Maybe this is the start to them getting help.”
The children have been removed from the home by CPS, Carter said.
In the last few years, the JCSD has charged at least two dozen women with felony child abuse after their babies were born with drugs in their system. But Ratcliff is the second woman in the last week or so to be charged after their children tested positive from being exposed to the drugs externally.
Lindsey Smith, 26, was charged with felony child abuse last week after her 15 month-old child tested positive for meth after an anonymous tip to CPS, which then turned the case over to the JCSD.