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Chris Serres

Reporter | Social Services
Phone: 612-673-4308

Chris Serres covers social services for the Star Tribune.


Serres 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
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey resigned from his post Monday after just six months on the job.

Minnesota DHS head Lourey resigns abruptly in shake-up

State's Human Services head quits after 2 top deputies resigned.
Claire Wilson, left, and Charles Johnson.

Two top Minn. Dept. of Human Services officials leave posts

The abrupt departures of two veteran administrators set up an early test of the leadership of Commissioner Tony Lourey.
Daniel Moga, a former priest, psychologist and prominent antiwar activist from St. Paul, died of complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosi

Daniel I. Moga, a former priest who preached pacifism, dies at 87

Moga and his wife, Moira, who died early this year, emerged as intellectual leaders of the local antiwar movement during the 1960s and beyond.
“This legislation absolutely will save lives,” said Sen. Karin Housley, chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee and author of the

Landmark law aims to protect elders, but who writes rules?

Minnesota lawmakers have approved the broadest expansion of the state's oversight of the long-term care industry in generations.
A year ago, relatives of elder abuse victims gathered outside the House chamber to protest legislative inaction over proposals that would have protect

Deal reached to protect Minn. seniors from abuse, neglect

A far-reaching agreement is widely expected to become law this session after two years of contentious deliberations, hearings and protests.
Steven G. Nelson, 58, died of a brain injury after being brutally beaten by a staff member at an assisted-living facility in Hill City, Minn., accordi

Charges could follow alleged abuse at a northern Minnesota senior home

Law enforcement agencies have launched multiple investigations on incidents at a Hill City facility.
Maple Lake Recovery Center

Teen boys sexually abused at drug treatment center in Wright County, state says

Investigators determine a female staff member molested three youths.
Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey and Jill Wiedemann-West, CEO of People Incorporated, discussed the benefits of the coordinated care model at a

Minnesota's new mental-health treatment model faces uncertain future

"One stop" services could expand in Minnesota – or lose their funding entirely.
Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, second from left, led a group to meet with legislators. Also there are Jane Overby, Kris

Report highlights abuses, deaths in state's assisted-living facilities

The assisted-living industry has mushroomed in recent years, but Minnesota's consumer protections have not kept pace with these changes, exposing residents to serious harm and premature deaths, according to state records.
State Auditor James Nobles said efforts to detect and prevent fraud in Minnesota’s $283 million child-care assistance program have been “insuffici

Legislative auditor: Minnesota's efforts to prevent fraud in child care program are 'insufficient'

State officials are seeking broad new powers to combat fraud, monitor day care providers.
Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey notified lawmakers Tuesday of the data breach, which could potentially affect the personal information of abou

Hacker breached Minnesota state agency e-mail, placing data of 11,000 at risk

It's the third cyberattack against the agency in a year.
Martin Kellogg

Martin Kellogg, businessman who helped create Voyageurs National Park, dies at 88

Martin N. Kellogg, a visionary conservationist whose love for pristine wilderness inspired him to play a leading role in the creation of two iconic Minnesota…
Sylwia Pawlak-Reynolds, in Poland, speaks with her son William, 7, of south Minneapolis, via Skype.

Mpls. mom refuses to return to the U.S. to face murder charges

The case has spawned a bitter battle in Hennepin County court, drawn criticism from national child welfare advocates and is now attracting attention from authorities of Poland, who worry that her rights to a fair trial are being violated.
Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, and House Republicans unveiled a package of legislation intended to prevent fraud in the state Child Care Assistance Pr

Minn. House GOP seeks crackdown on fraud in child care program

Proposed legislation comes on heels of audit reporting illegal overbilling.
DHS Inspector General Carolyn Ham has left her position, less than a week after the state’s Legislative Auditor found pervasive fraud in the child-c

DHS inspector general placed on leave after state audit finds fraud in state's child care program

Pervasive questionable payments found in Minnesota's child-care assistance program.
Deputy Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson is seeking new powers.

Minn. officials seek new powers to catch, prevent child-care fraud

Program for low-income families could get closer monitoring for overbilling, kickbacks.
State Legislative Auditor James Nobles recommends transferring investigations of fraud in Minnesota’s child-care assistance program (CCAP) to the st

Legislative auditor calls for shift in Minnesota's child-care fraud investigations

They are criminal probes, he said, and belong in the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Jerry Parson, who has multiple sclerosis, was forced to move into a senior home in Eden Prairie after his primary caregiver, his wife, Joyce, suffered

Minnesotans with disabilities fight barriers to inclusion

Nearly 3½ years after top state officials pledged to embrace integration, thousands are still living segregated and isolated lives.
Prayer scarf carriers have committed to sobriety to honor Marissa Joline Blacklance, killed by a drunk driver in 2018.

In Mpls., young American Indian woman's death inspired yearlong oath to stay sober

The "prayer scarf carriers," as they call themselves, have become models of sobriety and resilience in local Native communities.
Last May, state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm addressed elder abuse victims who gathered at the State Capitol to protest inaction by the state Legis

Walz proposes tougher oversight of facilities for vulnerable adults

Responding to a rising volume of complaints, he proposes immediate fines and more frequent inspections.
The home in south Minneapolis where Jerry Lee Curry raped and tortured his twin daughters until authorities removed them last May.

Mpls. father pleads guilty to sex assault in 'house of horrors' case

A Minneapolis father has pleaded guilty to sexually and physically assaulting his twin teenage daughters and endangering a third child who lived in the home.
With the help of Housing Coordinator Genevieve Pelrine of Start Today Hennepin, Robert Kleen was able to get an affordable lease on a studio in downto

Push puts Minnesota near goal of ending veteran homelessness

A goal that once seemed unattainable — securing safe and stable housing for every veteran known to be homeless — is now within reach.
In this moment in 2017, Lisa Papp-Richards comforted her mother, Mary Ann Papp, 77, at a nursing home in Bemidji. Papp-Richards said the facility reta

Minn. families of nursing home patients press for right to use cameras to monitor care

A new bill strives to balance resident privacy with need to prevent maltreatment and monitor care in senior facilities.
A sex offender housed at Minnesota’s state treatment facility in Moose Lake has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly using a makeshift

Sex offender accused of attempted murder in attack on staffer at Minn. treatment center

Police say he made a weapon using a razor blade, a toothbrush, dental floss and rubber bands.
“The progress is very real,” said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, of the state’s efforts to improve its system for responding and investigating

Minnesota Health Dept. gets tougher on elder abuse

Investigations are faster, complaint backlogs have plummeted.
State health investigators said Steven G. Nelson, 58, died of a brain injury last fall after being brutally beaten by staff at an assisted-living faci

State details fatal beating of vulnerable man at northern Minn. care center

Local police said they are investigating the alleged assault at Chappy's Golden Shores in Hill City, which has since closed.
Last May, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm addressed a crowd of seniors and elder care advocates at a rally at the State Capitol in which they called f

Minn. health commissioner unveils plan for tougher state oversight of assisted-living facilities for seniors

Health commissioner says assisted-living industry is too lightly regulated in Minnesota, leaving seniors at risk.
Sister Patricia DeMoully

Catholic educator Patricia DeMoully dies in St. Paul

Not even 5 feet tall, DeMoully is remembered as a giant in the schools where she taught and served as a principal for nearly five decades.
Relatives of Celesta Yanez mourned at the Gichitwaa Kateri Church. She overdosed after being barred from visiting her sister.

Overdoses at Mpls. homeless shelter show challenging mission

As many as eight residents suffered overdoses on one day, illustrating the struggle to run a safe, lawful site without driving away homeless people who struggle with serious addiction.
Judge Lucinda Jesson wrote that a district court must issue a ruling “expressly excluding a relative” as a placement option before that person can

Minn. appeals court upholds family rights in foster care cases

Attorneys say decision will help address racial bias in child protection system.
TSA agent Celia Hahn said she had to cancel plans to sign up her twin 9-year-old boys for a soccer clinic this winter.

Minnesota workers, businesses start to feel sting from federal government shutdown

The indefinite government shutdown is tightening its grip on federal workers, their families and local economies.
A retention pond in Shoreview. A group of Minnesota cities is suing several large chemical refiners over the contamination of hundreds of such ponds c

Minnesota cities sue refiners over cost of cleaning up polluted stormwater ponds

Seven cities say cleanup of carcinogenic chemicals should rest with manufacturers.
In this 2011 photo, a welcome sign for Fargo, N.D., sits in the rising floodwaters of the Red River as a flood engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Eng

Minnesota grants permit for Fargo-Moorhead flood control plan

The $2.75 billion plan would dramatically reduce the amount of land in the Fargo-Moorhead area that would be at risk during a major flood of the Red River.

State faults Bemidji senior home in resident's fatal fall

GoldPine Home resident died from head injuries.
Maribel Cruz and her four-year-old daughter Bella delivered meals of chicken and rice they purchased from Cub to the navigation center. Cruz said she

Out of the cold, but still fighting addiction at new Mpls. homeless shelter

Overdoses like the one on Christmas Eve are a reminder that much remains the same in this small community of homeless men and women.
The final residents of the large homeless camp in south Minneapolis departed on Friday.

Minneapolis homeless camp officially closes as last residents leave

135 people moved to the temporary heated shelters across the street.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine clears final major hurdle with state

Federal officials opened a path for a second mine just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Sen. Karin Housley, chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee, said she planned to introduce a package of proposals in the coming legis

Minnesota lawmakers, families of abuse victims renew push for elder care reform

The licensing of assisted-living facilities will be a top priority of consumer groups.
The number of residents is dwindling at the homeless encampment as many have moved to a navigation center.

Minneapolis homeless camp shrinks as officials prepare for camp's closure

City officials hope the once-crowded camp will be empty by week's end.
A Hennepin County judge said local ordinances like the one in Dayton, Minn. that restrict where sex offenders can live would have a "devastating effec

Judge strikes down Dayton, Minn., ordinance restricting sex offender housing

Ruling says the law in Dayton, Minn., clashes with state law and public interest.
Kendell Jackson joyfully headed to the navigation center with his girlfriend, Nichole Dauphinais, and her daughter Clarista Johnson.

Mpls. homeless camp starts to empty amid outreach effort

In just the past three days, nearly three dozen people have packed their belongings and moved to a gated compound of large heated tents that will serve as a temporary shelter until more stable housing can be found.
Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, donated $2.5 million to Minneapolis nonprofit Simpson Housing Services, which plans to use the money to help ho

Amazon's Bezos donates $2.5 million to a Minneapolis nonprofit that serves homeless families

The gift is the largest ever received by Simpson Housing Services, which will use the money to help homeless families obtain stable housing.
Jenny Bjorgo, outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, hugged Minneapolis police Sgt. Grant Snyder as residents began

Mpls. homeless camp residents begin move to temporary shelter

Aid workers will help them move into three large, heated tents that will serve as their temporary home until more permanent housing is found.
Inhabitants of a large homeless encampment in south Minneapolis prepare for an important deadline next week to relocate to a temporary shelter nearby.

Frey: Mpls. homeless camp residents 'deserve better'

Mayor Jacob Frey and American Indian leaders made an impassioned plea for unity Sunday at a crowded public meeting, which was hastily called in response to complaints of harassment of aid workers at the camp in south Minneapolis.
James Cross, the founder of the street outreach group Natives Against Heroin, comforts a woman in her wheelchair who was living at the homeless camp a

American Indian leaders condemn 'deplorable' actions at Mpls. homeless camp

Natives Against Heroin accused of dividing Indian community, impeding aid.

Northern Minnesota senior home's license suspended for multiple health and safety violations

Inspectors found serious health and safety violations that pose "an imminent risk" to its residents.
A man administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a woman who had apparently overdosed on opioids Wednesday at the homeless camp in south Minneapolis

Aid workers, others at Minneapolis homeless camp say they are fearful

Aid workers complain of harassment from volunteers
Inhabitants of a large homeless camp along Hiawatha and Franklin Avenues in south Minneapolis stay warm by a fire at night.

Minneapolis homeless camp inspires interfaith developer to plan 70-unit affordable complex

Representatives of the group's 90 congregations visited the Hiawatha encampment in October.
As the opioid epidemic has tightened its grip on the Upper Midwest, drug abuse by parents has emerged as the leading reason why children are taken fro

Opioid epidemic drives thousands of Minn. kids into foster care

Parents' addictions are top reason for removing kids; a new law offers hope.
Although people are finding housing and moving away from the homeless camp on Hiawatha, many remain. In this photo, Josue Palacios, pastor of the Igle

Dozens at Mpls. homeless camp find housing ahead of deadline

A massive outreach effort has helped reduce the population of the tent city by more than half since September.
Construction workers erect the metal frame for housing at the site of the new navigation center that will replace the Hiawatha homeless encampment.

Mpls. homeless camp residents told: Come in from the cold

Fire crews put up a large, heated tent across the street. City officials said the encampment is "not safe for people" and will close once a new site opens in mid-December.
Angie Morrow lives out of the back of a minivan and has sent her daughter to live with relatives, but she said it’s “time to move on” when a spa

Residents of Minneapolis homeless camp split about moving

Some at camp say they'll resist move to new shelter, despite mounting concerns and approaching deadlines.
Minneapolis firefighters were on the scene at the tent encampment in Minneapolis.

Tents in Mpls. homeless encampment catch fire; no injuries reported

Multiple tents caught fire Monday afternoon at an encampment along Hiawatha Avenue in south Minneapolis, where hundreds of homeless people have been living since late summer, fire officials said
A design of a “tiny-house” community, called Envision, proposed for up to 30 people who are poor or experiencing homelessness.

Village of mini-houses for homeless proposed in Minneapolis

The miniature houses, just a few hundred square feet each, would be cheap to build and highly affordable, appealing to the growing number of low-income people shut out of the metro area's housing market.
There have been four deaths linked to this large homeless encampment in south Minneapolis since September.

Fourth person dies at Minneapolis homeless camp

The death of Argentina Taylor has renewed calls to improve security at the camp.
Mike and Ellen Eagle Tail have found stable housing but still find ways to help out at the camp.

Mpls. makes progress on finding shelter for those at camp

An intensive effort has helped some people at the large south Minneapolis homeless encampment land housing.
Divine Nde Momuluh, 39, has been charged with criminal sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult for allegedly impregnating a woman at a group home with disa

Woman with disabilities impregnated at St. Anthony group home; caregiver charged with abuse

Investigators say the alleged abuser offered her $700 to abort the pregnancy.
Tonya Rainey, left, hugged physician assistant Kitty Earl-Torniainen after a discussion about fighting her heroin addiction.

At HCMC, doctors pursue new way to treat opioid addiction

Doctors seek to fill a gap in the medical system by treating opioid addiction in the emergency room.
Damage was evident inside the halls of the building on Aldrich Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Tenants ordered out of Mpls. apartment building when cracks appear after nearby excavation

Cracks appeared in the building this summer after the start of excavation for a new building nearby. Tenants were given less than 72 hours' notice Friday to vacate the building.
Ellen Dick, right, has been drug-free for almost a year. Here she tried to stay warm in a tent with friend Mona Richards.

At Mpls. homeless camp, recovering addicts seek refuge amid the squalor

The easy access to drugs makes staying sober difficult.
Supporters held signs as Dwight Mitchell talked with with a reporter outside the Federal Building before his lawsuit accusing county and state social

Minnesota parents claim racial bias in child protection system as federal case begins

Parents, advocates claim racial bias in child protection system.
Le Wang, 31, a business analyst, is concerned that a new immigration rule would make it impossible for his relatives to emigrate from China to the U.S

Trump proposal stokes anxiety among Minnesota immigrants

The rule, announced last weekend, would deny permanent residency to immigrants who have used public assistance in the past or are expected to do so in the future.
Family members of Pamela Rivera, 51, built a sacred “spirit fire” in Little Earth on Sunday, after Rivera died of an apparent drug overdose. A spi

3rd death linked to homeless camp raises tensions over drug dealers

Natives Against Heroin razed tents thought to be used by heroin sellers at Mpls. site.
Lewis Simpler a member of a team of nurses with Livio Health Group took the vital signs of Anthony Nichols 52, at the large homeless camp on Monday in

'Doing our best': Health care arrives at Mpls. homeless camp

With backpacks and stethoscopes, mobile medics have treated dozens of people at the camp.
Unshoveled sidewalks in front of the house where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from th

Trial in 'house of horrors' case delayed as judge orders suspect to undergo mental evaluation

Jerry Lee Curry's lawyer has "doubts about his competency."
Thomas Duvall was convicted of a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to more than 60 victims.

Twin Cities serial rapist cleared for release after 30 years

A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court ends a prolonged legal battle over the future of one of the state's most violent sex offenders.
James Cross, the founder of the street outreach group Natives Against Heroin, comforted Yvonne, who became emotional while talking about her situation

From addict to crusader: A new leader emerges in Minn. Indian community

James Cross has built an army of volunteers prepared to risk their lives to confront drug dealers.
There have been two deaths linked to the rapidly growing Minneapolis homeless encampment in the past week, spurring local agencies to intensify their

Calls intensify for swift action on health risks at Mpls. homeless camp

A second death linked to homeless camp was drug-related, family says.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey visited the growing homeless encampment near the Little Earth housing project last week and talked with American Indian l

Mpls. city leaders unveil plan to relocate homeless encampment

Minneapolis city leaders want to relocate hundreds of people living at a large and growing homeless encampment in south Minneapolis to one or more provisional shelters with medical and social services by early October.
The death of Alissa Skipintheday, 26, near the growing homeless camp in south Minneapolis has heightened concerns about health risks and medical care

Death heightens concerns about medical care at Minneapolis homeless encampment

Alissa Skipintheday's sudden death highlights urgent needs at the swelling encampment, Indian leaders said.
Koda Deer, 4, peered out of his family’s tent on a rainy day.

At a growing Mpls. homeless camp, there's hope for families

Instead of driving everyone off, a coalition of agencies has flocked in to help, reflecting the unusual approach city officials and American Indian leaders are taking at the tent city near Hiawatha and Cedar.
The families of Honduran refugee Nuria Arias, left, and the Rev. Ry Siggelkow, top right, said a prayer.

Harrowing escape, uncertain future for Honduran family now in Minnesota

Hope drove Nuria Arias, 32, and her three children to the Minneapolis home of the Rev. Ry Siggelkow and family.
Paul Laubignat

French chef and restaurateur Paul Laubignat dies at 66

Many people called Laubignat, who was a fixture at Nancy's Landing restaurant in Waconia, "the Professor."
Mayor Jacob Frey listened Thursday as Sgt. Grand Snyder, the Minneapolis Police homeless liaison, spoke at the Minneapolis American Indian Center.

Mpls. leaders unveil plan for tackling growing homeless camp

Mayor Jacob Frey pledged to eliminate the encampment, which as doubled in size in recent weeks, by the end of September.

Duluth nursing home cited in patient's death after four nurses fail to perform CPR

Patient was found unresponsive and died.
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