The death of a 2-year-old girl at a foster home in St. Paul is drawing police scrutiny and has led state regulators to temporarily suspend the home’s license.
Officers were called to the house in the 400 block of Arlington Avenue E. late in the morning on Nov. 13 regarding a child who stopped breathing, said Police Sgt. Mike Ernster.
By the time police arrived, paramedics were tending to the girl in a bedroom, and she was pronounced dead there, Ernster said.
The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office has yet to disclose the child’s identity.
“The investigation is still active and ongoing,” Ernster said Wednesday. “There have been no arrests or charges involved with this case.”
Three days after the death, the state Department of Human Services (DHS) notified Sabrena Carter, 56, and Van Lowe, 73, of the immediate suspension of their foster care license at that address.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, DHS Inspector General Carolyn Ham said, “When an incident occurs in a licensed program, such as foster care, the [department] immediately suspends the license if children are in imminent risk of harm.”
Ham said that local agencies respond to “ensure other children receiving care are safe.”
If a full investigation determines that there was “either maltreatment, or licensing violations related to a foster child’s death,” she continued, “additional licensing action would be taken.”
Reached by phone, Carter said Wednesday, “I don’t want to talk about that.” Her Facebook page says that she and Lowe are engaged to be married.
The license holders had the right to appeal within five days of notification, but did not do so, a DHS spokeswoman said.
There “have been no complaints during [the home’s] licensure” until Ramsey County’s Community Human Services Department recommended the license be temporarily suspended, county spokesman John Siqveland said Wednesday.
The license took effect on Dec. 8, 2015, and was renewed a year later. It allows for up to five foster children ages 17 and under.
Regulators inspected the home on Nov. 9, and no concerns were raised, Siqveland said. The child died there four days later.
Last year, a federal review found that Minnesota struggles with deep-rooted problems, including a shortage of foster homes and inadequate training for county caseworkers who aid troubled families.
Despite efforts toward reform, the review concluded that Minnesota failed to achieve “substantial conformity” with seven key measures of child safety, permanency and well-being.
From 2009 to 2014, according to the DHS, there were 18 deaths in foster homes in Minnesota. Two of them were attributed to maltreatment, 15 were ruled accidental and one was a suicide.