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Judge grants trial home visit in Carlton County child care case

Judge Rebekka Stumme authorized four of the five children removed from their home in January to participate in a trial home visit with their mother.

File: Carlton County Jail aerial
The Carlton County Courthouse (left) and jail in Carlton. Steve Kuchera / 2019 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — A trial home visit for four of the five children involved in a child care case was authorized by Judge Rebekka Stumme during a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 4.

The children in this case are among 10 children removed from two homes in January after allegations of abuse were made against two mothers. The Pine Journal is not identifying the mother in this case to protect the identity of the children.

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Stumme said the law works to reunify children with their legal custodian or parent. With the mother working through a reunification plan, Stumme added she has put the effort forward for the trial visit.

Attorneys involved in the case said the woman had done everything asked of her, from psychological evaluations to starting family therapy.

While the woman has done what was asked of her, Stumme said she had previously questioned how much of it the woman internalized.

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"That is going to be determined in the future," she said.

As the children are members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Stumme said she leaned on the recommendation of the Band's attorney.

Scott Buchanan, attorney for the Band, said the Band supports the trial visit at this time.

"We feel that she can safely take care of the children at this time," he said.

There have already been successful overnight visits with the children and the mother, he added.

However, Stumme said the court expects caution moving forward and for the agencies to be involved in the visit to make sure the transition goes well.

"If it doesn't go well, we remove the kids, and that's that," she said.

The eldest child in the case is not a part of the trial visit, as they are near adulthood. Stumme said all parties have stated there is no interest for the child to return.

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Rebecca McConkey-Greene, attorney for the petitioner, argued against a trial home visit. She said she hoped things would move slowly as the woman and children had just started family therapy.

While the woman has been cooperative with everything that has been asked of her, McConkey-Greene said she still had concerns about the woman acknowledging her role in the children's removal in the first place.

Jessica Sterle, attorney for the mother, said any requests to prevent a trial home visit would be inappropriate at this time.

"All the professionals will be contacting my client," she said. "If professionals are having concerns ... then we would be back before the court in a very short order."

A trial is scheduled for the case Oct. 25; however, the parties have another pretrial hearing scheduled for Oct. 18.

MORE FROM DYLAN SHERMAN:
The city of Carlton held a meeting to start the discussion on changes to the Carlton Ambulance Service and possibly increasing funding from the municipalities it serves.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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