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Crow Wing County Board expands team screening for juvenile cases

A Crow Wing County commissioner will now join an expanded screening team, which reviews cases where a child may be removed from their home.

The screening team makes recommendations to the court.

Tuesday board members were told the expanded screening team model — with the addition of the sheriff’s office, Community Services Director Kara Terry and a board member, would build both a better understanding and stronger relationships between departments. Terry said the addition of a commission would provide a greater understanding of how decisions to remove a child from a home are made.

Don Ryan, Crow Wing County attorney, said the screening team model has been in discussion for some time. The issue was discussed last week with Commissioners Rachel Reabe Nystrom and Paul Thiede.

“I am in complete support of it,” Ryan said.

Chairwoman Rosemary Franzen asked if the board could alternate members but Terry said there will be a substantial learning curve and rotating commissioners each week may be difficult. The screening team typically looks at cases involving eight families during a month.

Nystrom said neither she nor Thiede could make every meeting but between them could rotate. It would be good to have a board member, Nystrom said, because one placement is all it takes to break the budget. She said she wasn’t sure what the board members would be able to lend to the team but the commissioners would get a lot out of it.

Cases of children who may need to be placed out of the home for more than 30 days are reviewed by the team. The team reviews cases at six and 12 months to see if the placement is appropriate, as well as assuring reasonable and active efforts are ongoing to either reunite families or come up with an alternate plan.

Decisions may include assisting with services to keep a child at home or perhaps in a relative’s home, or out-of-home placement to a foster home, group home, residential treatment or correctional facility.

Children reach this measure of team scrutiny because of delinquency, abuse or neglect or a parent/child conflict, or need treatment stemming from an emotional disturbance or development disability, or perhaps a need to be placed in a residential treatment facility for diagnostic evaluation, or for those who may have been screened earlier and now are being considered for a more restrictive facility.

Team members represent community services, probation, the county attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, mental health, guardian ad-litem, case manager and parent if appropriate. The team is scheduled to meet weekly for an hour.

To clarify a comment Nystrom made, Commissioner Paul Koering asked her to confirm what she meant when she said this issue was discussed last week so there wasn’t an inference of an open meeting violation. Nystrom said it was only discussed at the committee level, which included herself and Thiede.

Thiede was absent Tuesday.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852