Staff Directory 10645926

Chris Serres

Reporter | Social Services
phone: 612-673-4308
Chris Serres covers social services for the Star Tribune. He writes about issues affecting society's most vulnerable populations, including the poor, elderly, mentally ill and people with cognitive and physical disabilities. He is married and has two children, Dominic, 12, and Emmanuelle, 10. He has been a newspaper reporter for 20 years.
Recent content from Chris Serres
Families of elder abuse victims protested inaction by the Legislature on Friday. A few provisions made it into the budget bill.

Effort to reform elder care system falls short at Capitol

Weeks of intense negotiation involving Dayton, GOP legislators and a coalition of senior organizations over a bipartisan deal collapsed over the weekend.
Prekindergarten children sat down to a dinner of fruit cocktail, pizza and milk at First Choice Child Care Center in Minneapolis.

Somali child-care providers push back vs. fraud, terror allegations

Past misdeeds of day-care providers fed mistrust, legislative inquiry
Abdulaziz Sugule of the Somali American Money Services Association, Jaylani Hussein of CAIR-Minnesota and Imam Hassan Mohamud of the Islamic Dawah Cen

Minnesota's legislative auditor will investigate alleged fraud in child-care subsidy program

Legislators requested probe after TV report.
Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria listened as Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River railed against alleged abuse of child-care funds.

Minnesota GOP calls for crackdown on child care assistance fraud

Key lawmaker calls a report of pilfered money going to overseas terrorists "extremely troubling."
Assistant DHS Commissioner Claire Wilson said the 11 residential treatment centers affected by the loss of Medicaid funding are crucial and urged stat

Cutoff in federal funds could imperil children's mental health treatment centers across Minnesota

Ruling will aggravate the state's shortage of youth psychiatric care.
“I love these people, but I feel like I’m missing out on life every day that I’m stuck here,” said Korrie Johnson.

Young Minnesotans with disabilities forced to leave home

Shortage of home health workers pushes the disabled into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
“I feel like I’m being dragged by a moving train, by a process that’s out of my control,” said DeClara Tripp, who is fighting to regain custod

State accused of racial bias in crackdown against child abuse

An emerging coalition of black parents, civil rights activists and state legislators is pushing for stronger parental rights and greater oversight of social service agencies.
Star Jones wiped tears away as Dwight Mitchell talked Tuesday of his struggle to get his children back.

Child welfare workers illegally taking kids out of Minnesota homes, suit says

In the civil rights suit, attorneys for a group of parents allege that Minnesota's child protection laws are overly broad.
Acting Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson (right) and Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, discussed a bill that would make it more difficult for

Minnesota Senate passes bill to tighten sex offender, mental health commitment rules

The legislation is in direct response to a court decision earlier this year that permitted the full discharge of a 51-year-old sex offender who has admitted to molesting more than 30 boys and girls.
Thomas Duvall was convicted of a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to more than 60 victims.

Minnesota Appeals Court to consider release of serial rapist

Appeals panel to decide if Thomas Ray Duvall is no longer a public danger.
The Anoka asylum, circa mid-1950s.

'Crusade for Forgotten Souls' reveals the tragic history of Minnesota's asylums

NONFICTION: A daughter of Norwegian immigrants helped bring about change.
Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said group homes need to be "far more sensitive" to the vulnerab

Young woman with disabilities raped at a group home in Little Canada

Police say male caregiver admitted to the assault.
Unshoveled sidewalks in front of the house where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from th

State training academy proposed for overwhelmed child abuse workers

It would correct what many child welfare advocates see as a long-standing gap in Minnesota's decentralized system for protecting vulnerable children.
Jennifer Curtis of Forest Lake made an emotional appeal to the Forest Lake City Council in February, urging them to approve the project.

Child psychiatric center rejected by Forest Lake city officials

The $20 million project was hailed by mental health advocates, state officials and many nearby residents, who packed a City Council hearing Monday to voice their support
Kay Bromelkamp,left and Anne Sterner, both of Elder Voice Family Advocates delivered reports of elder abuse to Senator Tony Lourey (DFL) District 11 a

Families of abuse victims intensify push for elder care reforms in Minn.

Coalition swarms Capitol to push legislators to act.
A hallway that is scheduled to be remodeled at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center was highlighted in a tour Friday.

State treatment facilities in crisis, $63M needed, officials say

The situation has reached a crisis point, officials said, with heating systems, roofs and other critical infrastructure failing at several centers.
June Alice Thompson’s body went undiscovered for two days because her assisted-living facility in Eagan failed to perform daily wellness checks.

Eagan senior home resident was dead two days before being found

In a report issued this week, state investigators determined that June Alice Thompson had died in her room last October, but her body was not found for two days because staff at her assisted-living facility — the Commons on Marice — failed to perform daily wellness checks as promised.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is offering text messages as a tool for suicide prevention.

Minnesota expands suicide prevention text services statewide

Expanded service in Minnesota to provide instant crisis counseling.
Ann M. Wilhelmy, the longtime president of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, has died. She was 68.

Ann M. Wilhelmy, journalist and longtime president of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, dies at 68

Nothing about Ann M. Wilhelmy appeared combative or controversial. The soft-spoken copy editor at the Star Tribune stood a mere 5 feet tall, and was…
Scott Rhude of Willmar sat in a field of garbage while working on assignment with a sheltered workshop “enclave.”

Separation, inequality limit Minnesotans with disabilities

The first comprehensive statewide survey finds segregation and low wages.
Minnesota Sen. Karin Housley, center, is flanked by senior care lobbyists Toby Pearson, left, with Care Providers of Minnesota, and Kari Thurlow with

Industry lobbyists push back on Minnesota elder care reforms

With deep pockets and an army of lobbyists, Minnesota's nursing home industry exerts powerful influence at the Legislature.
The home at 4216 17th Ave. S. in Minneapolis where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from

Minneapolis man accused of abusing girls in "house of horrors" to appear in court

A Minneapolis man accused of raping, beating and torturing his twin daughters is scheduled to make a pretrial court appearance in late June in Hennepin…
Testing the technology: Hadley Lucca, making slime with her mom, Sarah, took part in a groundbreaking study at the University of Minnesota that uses e

Electrical brain stimulation could benefit children with cerebral palsy, U study finds

First-of-its-kind study using electrical currents to boost motor skills shows promise.
Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a series of proposals Tuesday intended to enhance state oversight of senior care facilities and impose tougher penalties aga

Dayton proposes new measures to crack down on mistreatment in senior homes

A surge in complaints, including cases of criminal abuse and assault, caused state regulators to fall far behind.
Unshoveled sidewalks in front of the house where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from th

In Minneapolis, a 'house of horrors' hides in plain sight

Neighbors and relatives wonder why authorities didn't do more to rescue twin sisters who endured years of sexual abuse and neglect by their father.
Paulette Bakeberg, 70, was physically assaulted at an assisted-living facility in Delano, and is among hundreds of elderly residents of senior homes w

Scathing report assails state for failure to protect vulnerable seniors

Long-awaited findings are likely to fuel calls for reform to the state's troubled system for investigating abuse.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said DHS officials should be held in contempt of court for failing to admit an inmate held for 14 days after he wa

Sheriffs want legal action as mentally ill languish in Minnesota's jails

DHS has left too many to languish in jail, they say.
Acting Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson said the state has shown great gains in its effort to eliminate a backlog of unresolved allegations o

State's backlog of elder abuse reports virtually gone thanks to improved intake system

State had more than 3,000 unresolved cases alleging maltreatment in facilities.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo has charged the caregiver with two felony counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Anoka County caregiver charged with criminal neglect in death of 83-year-old Minnesota man

Nurse found elderly man lying naked in the dark with filthy bandages, court complaint says.
Jennifer Curtis of Forest Lake made an emotional appeal to the council to approve the zoning text change.

Proposed children's mental health facility draws support

Despite pleas, the proposed $20M residential treatment center in Forest Lake faces an uphill battle, and the city council delayed voting on it.
Angela Naviosh got a hug from Douglas Milek while they waited at the Avivo recovery center to take a chemical health assessment.

Minn. agencies pushing for faster access to drug treatment

By July, many will get help in hours instead of weeks amid rising need with the nation's opioid epidemic.
With a box of his dead mother's ashes on the desk in front of him, Kent Edwards described how she was abused by two caregivers at a Lino Lakes assiste

Victims denounce a failing state system for responding to reports of elder abuse

Minnesota Senate committee chair says too many reports of abuse have "fallen through the cracks."
New Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said her agency is committed to eliminating a giant backlog of unresolved reports of abuse and neglect in senior c

State reports sharp drop in backlog of senior home abuse complaints

Health Dept. greatly accelerated review of outstanding maltreatment allegations.
The idea for a legislative auditor’s review of the Office of Health Facility Complaints came out of some grass-roots efforts by a group of abuse vic

New report to highlight broad failures in state response to elder abuse

Legislative probe uncovered widespread issues that require "immediate action."
Angry residents at Autumn Glen Senior Living in Coon Rapids pushed back against steep rent increases of 15 to 30 percent, which had threatened to upro

After backlash, Minnesota senior facility rescinds huge rent hike

"I think they thought we were old and frail and unable to speak up. But we were very determined to shake people up about this — and we did," said 85-year-old Janet Dahlquist.
Autumn Glen residents, including Bill Erickson, left, and Jim Nauman, who both use motorized scooters, gathered to talk about their fears for the futu

Minn. senior community fights 'astronomical' rent increases

Minnesota, like a handful of other states, does not license assisted-living facilities, which means that residents generally have no more rights and protections than renters in an ordinary apartment building.
Jan Malcolm in 2011.

New Minn. Health Dept. leader pledges to make fight vs. elder abuse a priority

Gov. Dayton has appointed former Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm to lead the Health Department, following highly publicized reports of breakdowns in senior home regulation.
Patrick Arthur Jansen, 58, an overnight staff member at a Sauk Rapids group home, has been charged with assaulting two female clients with disabilitie

Two young women with disabilities sexually assaulted at Sauk Rapids group home

A male caregiver who worked the overnight shift at a Sauk Rapids group home has been charged with sexually assaulting two female residents who were unable to report the assaults because of their disabilities.
Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, called for broad-based reforms to the state’s system for handling elder abuse complain

Task force:'Dramatic' reforms needed to end abuse in senior homes

Consumer work group was commissioned by Dayton in wake of Star Tribune probe.
The corporate office of Ebenezer Care in Minneapolis.

Orono senior home cited in death of woman found 10 hours after fall

The woman died a few weeks after being left on the floor for 10 hours.
Thomas Duvall was convicted of a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to more than 60 victims.

State and county officials challenge plans to release serial rapist Duvall

State agency, prosecutors say Thomas Duvall is still fixated on violence.
A dozen sex offenders remain stuck at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), in part because state officials have nowhere to send them amid a flur

3 Minnesota sex offenders fight city ordinance that essentially bans them

Offenders have been cleared for release but the city of Dayton's ordinance is so restrictive that they have nowhere to go, lawsuit says.
Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper

Minnesota officials detail backlog of elder abuse cases

Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said a team of state officials is sorting through more than 2,300 reports of maltreatment in senior homes.
Oxycodone-acetaminophen pills.

Opioid crisis putting strain on Minnesota's child protection setup

Parental drug abuse forces thousands into foster care.
An order to release serial rapist Thomas Duvall, who left court last April, has met fierce opposition from his victims.

Prospect of Minnesota serial rapist's release is met with fear and anger

Nearly 1,000 people have signed petition in less than 2 weeks.
“Frances was a giant in the Indian community here.’’ — Clyde Bellecourt

Frances Fairbanks, who helped co-found AIM, dies at 88

Frances G. Fairbanks, who rescued the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) from financial straits in the 1980s and became an unrelenting advocate for Indian causes for nearly 40 years, died in October at a nursing home in south Minneapolis. She was 88.
Thomas Duvall left the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings in April.

Serial rapist cleared for release from sex offender program

Thomas Duvall, who was locked up for 30 years for violent rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s, is now contrite, a panel of Minnesota judges ruled.
Dan Pollock, who took over as Minnesota’s acting health commissioner last month, plans to double the number of staff devoted to investigating maltre

Trump policy shift endangers Minnesota's crackdown on elder abuse

New directives call for rolling back federal penalties on nursing homes violating health and safety rules.
The Kateri Residence, which provides temporary housing for American Indian women recovering from addiction, is slated to close by July of this year.

Savior emerges for Mpls. home serving Indian women struggling with addiction

Indian women's group says center "can't go away."
Cora Mustin played with her 15-year-old autistic son, Jordan. He gets coordinated care at a People Inc. holistic clinic.

'One-stop shopping' model gets mental health care to thousands

If current trends continue, officials estimate more than 15,000 patients will be served by July, for one of the broadest expansions of the state's community mental health system in years.
Jo Ann Johnson,59, has been staying at Simpson United Methodist Church's 66-bed shelter for the past eight months. She lost her husband Gary a year ag

With major gift, homeless shelter dares to 'dream big' about future

For 35 years, the basement of Simpson United Methodist Church in the Whittier neighborhood of south Minneapolis has served as a much-needed sanctuary for people experiencing the trauma and stress of homelessness.
New acting Minn. health chief pledges tough action on elder abuse investigations

New acting Minn. health chief pledges tough action on elder abuse investigations

Days into new job, Dan Pollock pledges major reforms to Department of Health's policing of elder abuse.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger

Health commissioner resigns after mishandling of elder abuse

Dr. Edward Ehlinger's resignation comes five weeks after the publication of a Star Tribune series on elder abuse.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said the agency has been struggling to keep pace with a surging volume of abuse and neglect complaints i

State employees say elder-abuse reports tossed in trash due to backlog of cases

Chronic chaos, dysfunction recounted at state office investigating elder abuse.
Emory David Dively, deputy director of the state commission for the deaf, said untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression and oth

Minnesota home care workers will get training on detecting hearing loss among seniors

Hearing loss, often undetected, can lead to depression and cognitive decline, new research shows.
Top Minnesota regulator fired, triggering calls for better senior abuse scrutiny

Top Minnesota regulator fired, triggering calls for better senior abuse scrutiny

Whistleblower reprisal alleged at Health Dept.'s elder abuse division.
Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said a "cascade of miscommunications" led to the sexual assault

Girl sexually assaulted while on unsupervised leave from treatment facility

Treatment center failed to monitor her contact with an adult.
The Kateri Residence, which provides temporary housing for American Indian women recovering from addiction, will close its doors.

Mpls. home for American Indian women with addiction to close after 44 years

Highly valued in Minneapolis' American Indian community, but faced financial problems.
Emergency dispatcher Jo Richmond demonstrates how the new “Text-to-911” service works at the University of Minnesota’s emergency communications

Minnesotans can now text "911" instead of calling to summon help

Designed for people with hearing and speaking disabilities — or when silence makes a difference.
Maxwell Kelsey’s reverence for tradition and attention to detail have turned him into one of the region’s go-to makers of old-style, wooden lacros

Bemidji man helps fuel lacrosse revival with traditional sticks

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" says the woodworker, holding up a freshly carved stick. "I'm peeling back history with every draw of that knife."
Elder Voice members visited the Capitol on Friday to meet with Gov. Dayton’s administration about abuse in senior care homes.

Families of elder abuse victims speak out, wield new power at Capitol

In recent weeks this coalition, known as Elder Voice Family Advocates, has emerged from obscurity to play a central role in early efforts by the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton to reform Minnesota's troubled system for responding to violent crimes and other forms of abuse in senior homes.
Gov. Mark Dayton

Gov. Dayton calls for new elder-abuse work group

He'll appoint AARP officials to lead reform efforts ahead of 2018 Legislature.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called for more aggressive action by federal action to prevent and respond to incidents of abuse in senior care facilitie

Klobuchar: More must be done to stop abuse in senior homes

The federal agency that regulates nursing homes must take more aggressive steps to prevent and respond to violent crimes and other forms of abuse in senior care facilities, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Tuesday. In her letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, she cited a five-day, Star Tribune special report.
Male aide gets 1-year sentence in sexual assault of 78-year-old Minnesota woman

Male aide gets 1-year sentence in sexual assault of 78-year-old Minnesota woman

Advocates say the case highlights deeper problems with the often-secretive response to elder crimes.
The Emily Program in St. Paul is shifting its focus on patients with more severe and dangerous eating disorders, and dropping up to 250 patients with

Emily Program to narrow eating disorder treatments, drop roughly 250 patients

The eating disorder clinic will focus on patients with severe and dangerous eating disorders.
Tiffany Morgan helped her daughter, Ny’Ana, who has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, with her homework after school on a recent afternoon.

Minnesota scientists deploy high-tech tools to map damage from fetal alcohol

Prenatal alcohol exposure affects about 7,000 newborns in Minnesota each year, and its effects remain deeply misunderstood.
Sen, Karin Housley, chairwoman of the Senate committee on aging and long-term care, said she is preparing a package of reforms to address widespread a

Minn. senator demands greater disclosure on senior abuse, investigations

Sen. Karin Housley says problems outlined in Star Tribune investigation are "untenable."
“The facilities around here, they know we're watching,” said Paul Greenwood, a San Diego County deputy district attorney.

A more aggressive model for protecting seniors from abuse

PART 5 OF 5: A dedicated team of prosecutors, investigators and victims' advocates in San Diego County has made elder abuse a priority in the region's crime-fighting strategy.
Mathias and Estelle Schaust, both in their 80s, lived with the worry that they’d be kicked out of their senior housing because of their complaints.

Special Report: Minnesota senior home residents risk eviction when they speak up

PART 4: Across Minnesota, families who take complaints to the state Department of Health encounter dead ends and delays. Yet when they take their complaints directly to the management of their care homes, many find themselves facing retaliation.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton addressed a wide range of issues including reports of criminal acts at senior care facilities from a Star Tribune repor

Gov. Dayton calls for task force to address senior care abuses

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he would create a task force to deal with abuses in senior homes revealed in a Star Tribune series this week. "The senior care failures are really appalling," he said.
First Covenant Church stands on the corner of 7th Street and Chicago Avenue S. in Minneapolis.

Some homeless will be moved outside of Super Bowl perimeter

A current shelter at First Covenant Church is inside the Super Bowl security perimeter.
David Rikhus, Olmsted County detective: “The amount of mental anguish can be off the charts.”

Detective ferrets out financial crimes against older Minnesotans

David Rikhus' work has led to more than 30 convictions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in recoveries for elderly victims.
Mark Kosieradzki, an elder abuse attorney from Plymouth, has made millions suing Minnesota nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for allowing w

Meet the Minnesota lawyer taking on the senior-care industry

lymouth attorney Mark Kosieradzki has a long history of multimillion-dollar legal victories, earning a reputation as one of the nation's most feared elder abuse litigators.
James Parker, 77, and his daughter complained about a volatile roommate. “He nearly beat the life out of me,” Parker said.

When senior home residents are abusers, state rarely investigates

PART 3: Altercations between residents have grown more frequent and more serious in recent years as senior care facilities have allowed more seniors with psychiatric problems to live alongside frail elderly residents.
Clayton Braaten, the grieving husband of Grayce who was sexually assaulted at a Bemidji senior home, talks about the case as his daughter Michelle Bra

PART 2: When seniors are victimized, families can wait years for answers

PART 2: Long delays in Health Department investigations leave many families in limbo, making it impossible for them to move on with their lives and eroding their faith in the state's ability to protect the elderly.
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