Staff Directory 10645926

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
Ann Michele Jadlowski

Ann Michele Jadlowski, Catholic nun who comforted the sick and dying, dies at 94

A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, she continued to provide outreach to patients at the hospital until just days before her death.
State Sen. Julie Rosen led a hearing Wednesday over the leadership at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) for its mismanagement of financ

Legislators say state's DHS not alone in sloppy contracting

Legislators leveled stinging criticism at state agencies at a hearing on mismanagement of financial contracts that led to nearly 1,800 violations of state law over the past year.
Jodi Harpstead, center, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner (DHS), appeared in October before a Senate committee about the agency maki

Costly Medicaid missteps could foretell bigger problems at DHS

A top official at the Minnesota Department of Human Services told the legislative auditor that overpayments to two Indian bands are just "one example" of wider dysfunction in the agency's oversight of millions of dollars.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles held up the complicated organizational chart of DHS as he spoke on the results of its investigation into Medicaid ove

Documents show DHS broke law more than 200 times in past year

The Minnesota Department of Human Services violated state law with $52 million in contracts and grant commitments to vendors, Indian bands and other state government agencies without proper documentation, according to records.
Sheana Schlichter, a former assessor from Scott County, meets with Carolyn Thomson of Northfield at her home. Her 13-year-old son, Finnegan has a seve

Complaints, gaps dog system to distribute disability services

A $600 million system was supposed to streamline aid for people with disabilities. But instead it's a giant mess.
Jodi Harpstead, center, Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner (DHS), appeared before a Senate committee about the agency making $29 mill

Lawmakers grill new DHS chief on breakdowns in oversight

Jodi Harpstead pledged to fix gaps in oversight that led to tens of millions of dollars in overpayments.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles held up the complicated organizational chart of DHS as he spoke on the results of its investigation into Medicaid ove

'Troubling dysfunction' at Minn. agency led to overpayments, report says

Legislative auditor said the $29 million in overpayments to two Indian bands for opioid treatment was "inexcusable" and called for deep reforms at DHS.
DHS compliance officer Faye Bernstein protested against mistreatment of whistleblowers outside of a rally for President Donald Trump in Minneapolis.

DHS worker alleges ongoing retaliation for raising alarms over state opioid contracts

The legislative auditor expresses concern and is monitoring the situation.
Brenda Pike, 61. who drives for Uber, has been unable to access medications to control her severe depression and wild mood swings since she lost Medic

Hundreds lose health coverage over new Minn. Medicaid rules

DHS said 1,300 people have lost their coverage since the state's new asset-verification policy went into effect last month. Hundreds more are at risk of losing coverage as the agency rolls out the new system statewide through next spring.
Tepees of Sioux Indians below Fort Snelling; held captive at Fort Snelling after the US-Dakota War of 1862.

State relocates adoption event set for Fort Snelling amid outcry from Indian groups

Fort Snelling was a site of suffering, trauma for Dakota families in 1860s.
Stacey Vogele cared for her 18-year-old daughter, Tana, who has a severe neurological disorder and suffers from seizures.

A Medicaid waiver system so confusing that families hire guides

Stacey Vogele was weaving through rush-hour traffic in her white SUV, searching for the house of Sam, a 21-year-old with Down syndrome and developmental delays.…
PCA Nora Clark looks in on Scott Semo while Ramsey County. Semo had a massive brain hemorrhage in 2001 and requires intensive medical care.

High-stakes assessments upend lives of families with disabilities

A few hours can shape the rest of the year for Minnesota families. High-stakes disability assessments deliver critical help, or despair.
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

76 criminal charges allege abuse at northern Minn. senior care home

Manslaughter is among the charges brought against staff and owner of Chappy's Golden Shores in Hill City, Minn.
Tamara Frazee and son Trystan, 11, who has autism spectrum disorder, moved to Austin after their benefits were slashed.

'Geography is destiny' for Minnesota families coping with disabilities

With families desperate, thousands are uprooting themselves in Minnesota because they can't get the help they need where they live.
Lizzie Gold, accompanied by youngest daughter Grace,4, brought daughter Lizzie,7, to Crescent Cove for a respite weekend.] Sidebar--Emily Gold cared f

'No child with a terminal illness should have to wait for Medicaid services'

Emily and David Gold keep the small bedroom where their daughter Lizzie once lived exactly as she left it. Her favorite flowered dress hangs on…
“My father was exceedingly accomplished [and] exceedingly humble.” — son Rob Segal

Martin Segal, groundbreaking pathologist and master clarinetist, dies at 98

Segal founded and led the first nationally accredited pathology lab in the Twin Cities at what is now Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
Mohamed Mourssi-Alfash said he was wrongfully discharged from the state Department of Human Services after he began raising concerns about whether the

Ex-official accuses DHS of retaliation after he raises concerns of racial bias

Mohamed (Mourssi) Alfash, who worked within the Office of the Inspector General, alleges he was pushed out soon after he began raising the concerns.
The state is seeking to combat homelessness by offering a broad array of new housing support services under Medicaid. In 2018, hundreds of people live

Minnesota launches new housing benefit for poor seniors and people with disabilities

Nearly 8,000 people will receive housing support under the new Medicaid benefit.
White Earth chairman Eugene Tibbetts (right) testified at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday on the $25 million in alleged Medicaid overpayments. He i

State pressures Indian bands to repay $25M in Medicaid overpayments

Documents suggest DHS knew about Medicaid overpayments in 2015.
Faron Jackson, Sr., chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, said the band would not reimburse the state for millions of dollars in disputed Medicai

Leech Lake Band says Minnesota officials approved millions of dollars in wrongful Medicaid payments

Leech Lake Ojibwe refuse to repay $13.3 million in alleged overbillings.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles has launched an investigation into $25 million in overpayments to two tribes for substance abuse treatment.

Minnesota overpaid $25M to two tribes for substance abuse treatment

The overpayments, made over a period of five years, were made to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation to provide Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid dependency.
Sylwia Pawlak-Reynolds, 43, communicates with her son William via Skype as he eats a dinner after school. A Polish mother and day care operator charge

Feds seek to extradite Mpls. day care operator accused of murder

Sylwia Pawlak-Reynolds has refused to return to the U.S. from Poland to face questioning, citing a fear of being imprisoned and separated from her infant son, who remains under her care in Poland.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Reform Committee, has joined other lawmakers in calling for the DHS to be b

Minnesota DHS official says she was punished for speaking out

Faye K. Bernstein said she raised alarms about the legality of contracts at the social services agency. Lawmakers have renewed calls for breaking up the Minnesota Department of Human Services amid leadership disarray.
Roger, left, and Wendell Hatalla cut up and removed debris left from the storm Saturday near Turtle Lake, Wis. Storms ripped through western Wisconsin

Wisconsin neighbors help neighbors clear storm mess

Residents expressed overwhelming relief that no one came to harm.
Claire Wilson, left, and Charles Johnson.

Two Minn. DHS deputies return after Lourey, chief of staff resign

Claire Wilson and Charles Johnson rescinded their resignations.
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.