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Minn. 2-year-old's death in foster home investigated

ST. PAUL—After a 2-year-old girl died in a St. Paul residence this month, the state suspended the home's foster care license.

Police said Tuesday they continue to investigate the circumstances of the child's death on Nov. 13. No one has been arrested and police have not said whether they believe the girl's death is suspicious.

On Nov. 16, the Minnesota Department of Human Services wrote to the foster care license holders that a report from Ramsey County Human Services "alleged that a child sustained serious injuries while in your care." The letter said the report is being investigated by law enforcement and Ramsey County.

Police were called to the home at 10:45 a.m. Nov. 13 on a report of a 2-year-old who was not breathing, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman.

Officers found paramedics tending to the girl in a back bedroom, but she was pronounced dead, Ernster said.

The investigation into the girl's death is "open and active," said Ernster, who said he could not provide additional information. The girl's name has not been released.

Sabrena Carter and Van Luther Lowe were licensed to provide foster care for up to five children under the age of 18 at the address, according to a state Department of Human Services record. Neither Carter nor Lowe could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The home has been licensed to provide foster care since December 2015 and was relicensed December 2016, according to John Siqveland, Ramsey County spokesman. He said the home was last inspected Nov. 9 and relicensed then. There were no previous complaints about the home, Siqveland said.

In a Nov. 16 letter, the state Department of Human Services issued an order of temporary immediate suspension to provide child foster care at the address. There 4,500 active child foster care licenses in Minnesota, of which six currently have the status of temporary immediate suspension.

A DHS spokeswoman said, under state data privacy laws, there is limited information they can provide.

"Any death or serious injury of a child is tragic," DHS said in a Tuesday statement. "The Department of Human Service and local agencies take these tragedies very seriously. When an incident occurs in a licensed program, such as foster care, DHS will take action to temporarily suspend the license if children are in imminent risk of harm. The local agencies will also ensure that other children receiving foster care are safe. There will be an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of the child's injury or death. If a child's death is determined to be the result of maltreatment or the child was in foster care and the death was not due to natural causes, there will be an in-depth review of the case utilizing the department's new critical incident review process."

License holders can appeal a suspension, but Carter and Lowe had not as of Tuesday.

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