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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

Lawsuit claims state of Minnesota has underspent funds meant to serve the disabled

Services to thousands have been delayed, sometimes for years.
Officials vow to fight conditional release from Sex Offender Program

Officials vow to fight conditional release from Sex Offender Program

Over a chorus of objections from state authorities and medical experts, a man convicted of raping three teenage girls in the early 1990s was granted conditional release by a judicial panel last week.

Sex offenders demand broad reforms of Minnesota's troubled treatment program

State refuses to offer federal judge ideas for program remedies.
Judge demands swift action in reforming state sex offender program

Judge demands swift action in reforming state sex offender program

Giving the state until Sept. 21 to propose fixes, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank warned he would impose a “more forceful solution” if the state failed to correct constitutional violations.
Rapist is 4th to be released from sex offender program

Rapist is 4th to be released from sex offender program

The release comes as the state weighs dramatic reforms to the sex offender program, which is under legal pressure to demonstrate that it provides offenders genuine treatment and the prospect of getting out.
Gov. Dayton proposes costly reforms to sex offender program

Gov. Dayton proposes costly reforms to sex offender program

The proposed changes could cost tens of millions of dollars but still may not satisfy a federal judge.
Star Tribune, other media to challenge closed-door meeting on sex offender program

Star Tribune, other media to challenge closed-door meeting on sex offender program

Dayton, attorney general’s office support case that challenges judge’s closure.
Judge bans media, public from meeting on sex offender program

Judge bans media, public from meeting on sex offender program

Ruling draws harsh criticism from lawmakers and open government advocates.

Restraints, seclusion used improperly at St. Peter, group says

Advocates say St. Peter state hospital continues to violate its own policies regarding punitive measures.
Former Minn. Supreme Court chief gets key role in sex offender case

Former Minn. Supreme Court chief gets key role in sex offender case

As special master, Eric Magnuson will coordinate efforts to correct “serious constitutional problems” identified by the federal court.

Sending disabled teen to mental hospital broke state rules

The Minnesota Department of Human Services breached a court order when a boy who later assaulted a staff member was moved to a St. Peter mental hospital.
State OSHA investigates brutal assault at security hospital

State OSHA investigates brutal assault at security hospital

An assault by a 16-year-old patient who allegedly grabbed a security counselor by the hair, bashed her head against a wall and kicked her in the head repeatedly is the latest in a recent string of violent attacks on staff at the state’s largest psychiatric hospital.

Mother's suicide at Rochester mental hospital prompts review

DHS to increase oversight following second death of mental-health patient.
Hidden camera catches abuse at nursing home; two arrested

Hidden camera catches abuse at nursing home; two arrested

Families installed “granny cams” at a New Hope facility after they found unexplained cuts and bruises on loved ones.
Minnesota cracking down on child care assistance fraud

Minnesota cracking down on child care assistance fraud

DHS gains power to better investigate schemes that exploit poor children and cost taxpayers. Already, more than a dozen investigations are underway.
State funds program for early detection, treating of psychosis

State funds program for early detection, treating of psychosis

The 2015 Legislature approved funding for an innovative program that offers early detection and treatment of psychosis in young people.
Review: 'The Last Soldiers of the Cold War,' by Fernando Morais; players in a dangerous game

Review: 'The Last Soldiers of the Cold War,' by Fernando Morais; players in a dangerous game

NONFICTION: A vivid account of the lives of Cuban spies who infiltrated U.S. anti-Castro groups, and paid the price.

Minnesota signals appeal of sex-offender ruling

Gov. Dayton opposes landmark ruling, defends constitutionality of long-term detainment.
Judge rules Minnesota sex offender program unconstitutional

Judge rules Minnesota sex offender program unconstitutional

But Gov. Mark Dayton signaled in a statement that his administration is prepared to resist specific reforms and that "there will be no immediate changes to this program."

Federal judge to rule on future of Minnesota Sex Offender Program

U.S. judge will decide this week if state can continue to confine sex offenders indefinitely.

Minnesota's mental health system gets a $46M boost

The state will add 150 pediatric mental health beds in the next three years as part of an unprecedented expansion of services for children with mental illnesses.
May 23: Mpls. day care center accused of illegally billing state program

May 23: Mpls. day care center accused of illegally billing state program

Surveillance of the day care, which was raided last week by federal and state investigators, detected wide discrepancies between hours billed and services provided.
State revokes license of Mpls. day care under investigation for fraud

State revokes license of Mpls. day care under investigation for fraud

The Salama Child Care Center had too many children and lacked basic supplies, officials say.

Minnesota audit targets $1 million-plus in court monitor expenses

Some see the DHS review as an effort to discredit a court-appointed monitor highly critical of the agency's efforts to reform services for people with disabilities.
Minneapolis child care center raided by FBI, state agents

Minneapolis child care center raided by FBI, state agents

Investigators haul away computers, boxes, documents from Salama Child Care Center.

Injuries, assault lead to limits on admissions at Anoka-Metro

Influx of inmates and surge in violent assaults prompt state to limit county-jail admissions to Minnesota’s second-largest psychiatric hospital.
Federal judge rebukes Minnesota on plan to reform disability services

Federal judge rebukes Minnesota on plan to reform disability services

After multiple revisions, the ambitious plan is still lacking in measurable goals, judge says.
Review: 'Guantánamo Diary,' by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Review: 'Guantánamo Diary,' by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

NONFICTION: A Guantanamo prisoner’s nightmarish account of torture casts doubt on U.S. interrogation methods.
April 24: For more low-cost homes, Met Council seeks suburban landlords

April 24: For more low-cost homes, Met Council seeks suburban landlords

Minnesota’s largest housing authority is preparing an ambitious new effort to recruit participants for a federal rental-assistance program that aims to reverse decades of economic and racial segregation in subsidized rental housing in the Twin Cities.

Minnesota's crackdown on Medicaid fraud yields millions in savings

Stepped-up effort by Department of Human Services to screen providers more than doubles dollars recovered.

Minnesota senior homes blamed in two incidents of neglect

Incidents involved elderly residents with a history of dementia.
Mom's push to help poor kids with autism brings new federal benefits

Mom's push to help poor kids with autism brings new federal benefits

The Medical Assistance benefits will expand access to a broad range of one-on-one therapies.

Eligibility for public programs not properly checked, state review finds

A legislative auditor’s report fueled calls to scrutinize enrollees.

March 20: Minnesota moves to restructure care for the disabled

Department of Human Services faces $19 million shortfall, but families of disabled adults worry about impact.
Union, workers: Staffing shortage contributed to suicide at state facility

Union, workers: Staffing shortage contributed to suicide at state facility

The suicide Sunday night of a mentally ill, chemically dependent patient at the state facility will be investigated by an independent examiner, state officials said.
Rape survivor warns against releasing sex offenders

Rape survivor warns against releasing sex offenders

Tom McCartney, who survived a horrific double rape, says the state should lock away offenders forever — or execute them
Dec. 5: Veteran of D.C. turnaround is new medical director of troubled state security hospital

Dec. 5: Veteran of D.C. turnaround is new medical director of troubled state security hospital

Dr. KyleeAnn Stevens is expected to make significant changes at St. Peter facility.
Jan. 22: State authorities pursue new measures to quell violence at mental hospital

Jan. 22: State authorities pursue new measures to quell violence at mental hospital

As assaults on Minnesota Security Hospital staff rise, plan would shift violent patients to secure facilities.

Jan. 27: Minnesota Dept. of Human Services plans layoffs in budget squeeze

State’s largest agency moved to eliminate a $19 million deficit by slashing public services and laying off staff members.

Reforms are taking hold in Minnesota's sex offender program, officials testify

State defends its programming in trial challenging treatment center’s constitutionality.
Minnesota comes to the aid of opioid-exposed babies

Minnesota comes to the aid of opioid-exposed babies

Hennepin County effort is seen as a model for state.

Officials don't know what sex offenders deserve

Administrators said program lacks the staff and funding to determine if certain sex offenders should be released.
Minnesota official sees progress in sex offender program

Minnesota official sees progress in sex offender program

In federal court, state Human Services chief Lucinda Jesson cites reforms in a system that is targeted in a lawsuit.

Sex offender describes cycle of despair inside MSOP

Even though he has never been convicted of a sex crime as an adult, Craig Bolte has been confined at a state treatment center for…

Nobody ever released, witness says at MSOP trial

A convicted molester decried the state’s treatment program, testifying that it fosters hopelessness.
State's disabled asking: Where's the money?

State's disabled asking: Where's the money?

Despite long waits and few services, millions in state and federal dollars unspent

Walker Methodist Health Center resident sexually assaulted by caregiver, state reports

The assault comes as the state experiences a surge in maltreatment complaints at nursing homes.
Trial testing Minnesota's sex offender commitment program begins in St. Paul

Trial testing Minnesota's sex offender commitment program begins in St. Paul

“Monumental” case could lead to dramatic treatment reforms.
At county jail, social workers hope to stop the revolving door

At county jail, social workers hope to stop the revolving door

New Hennepin County effort aims to break recidivism cycle.
Dec. 5, 2014: Rapist granted release from Minnesota sex offender program

Dec. 5, 2014: Rapist granted release from Minnesota sex offender program

The release of Robert Jeno, only the third offender ever discharged from the sex offender program, could prove precedent-setting.
Obituary: Alexander 'Buzz' Bainbridge, ski industry pioneer, marketing genius

Obituary: Alexander 'Buzz' Bainbridge, ski industry pioneer, marketing genius

“You have to understand,” the ebullient old man would say to his grandchildren. “We are show people.” The old man was Alexander “Buzz” Bainbridge, a…
Review: 'The Devil Is Here in These Hills,' by James Green

Review: 'The Devil Is Here in These Hills,' by James Green

nonfiction: An ambitious, vivid account of four decades of violent conflict to unionize West Virginia’s coal mines.
Strategies shift for treating mental illnesses

Strategies shift for treating mental illnesses

Facing a shortage of beds and cost pressures, hospitals use outside social workers for help.
Critical shortage of mental health workers prompts call for action

Critical shortage of mental health workers prompts call for action

Mental health care in rural Minnesota is at crisis levels.
For first time in eight years, Met Council will open list for housing vouchers

For first time in eight years, Met Council will open list for housing vouchers

The regional housing authority expects up to 70,000 families to apply for just 2,000 cherished spots on a waiting list for housing vouchers.
Jan. 16, 2014: Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor

Jan. 16, 2014: Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor

Across the state, low-income families are being squeezed by a grim combination of scarce housing and unprecedented cuts to the federal government’s rental-assistance program.
State increases incentives for foster parents to adopt

State increases incentives for foster parents to adopt

Program eliminates long-standing penalty that reduced benefits for children adopted by foster parents.
Minnesota falters in fight against home care fraud

Minnesota falters in fight against home care fraud

Once a leader in preventing Medicaid theft, Minnesota now lags in prosecuting fraudulent home-care workers.
Weak home care rules victimize the frail, sick

Weak home care rules victimize the frail, sick

Home health care companies, which deploy more than 100,000 personal care assistants in Minnesota, operate without the kind of oversight that is routinely given to licensed care facilities such as nursing homes, and their workers are often low paid and poorly trained.
The marketing of home care has shifted into high gear

The marketing of home care has shifted into high gear

The once-amicable and highly local business of home caregiving has become a multibillion-dollar industry marked by for-profit franchising and cutthroat competition.

Sept. 14: Minnesota law pushes mental health system to a crisis point

Law gives some inmates priority in state facilities.
Legal costs trigger belt-tightening at human services agency

Legal costs trigger belt-tightening at human services agency

“It’s never easy to cut back spending, especially in an agency where the work is so critical,” Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, above, wrote.
New official to head Minnesota child protection efforts

New official to head Minnesota child protection efforts

The appointment of James Koppel comes amid reports of repeated failures of state’s child protection system.
Medication flub is latest setback for state mental hospital

Medication flub is latest setback for state mental hospital

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter failed to provide prescribed medications for three mentally ill patients, including one patient infected with HIV, in the…
Experts call for expedited review of Minn. sex offender cases

Experts call for expedited review of Minn. sex offender cases

Minnesota's sex offender program should begin preparing sex offenders for release as soon as they are admitted, say court-appointed experts, who are the latest to find systemic faults in the controversial system.
Sept. 17: New sex abuse claims upend release of rapist

Sept. 17: New sex abuse claims upend release of rapist

Two men claim Thomas Duvall molested them as boys, which might have swayed experts’ opinions.

Aug. 21: Trial on constitutionality of MSOP set for February

A federal trial that could determine the constitutionality of Minnesota’s sex offender program is set for early February.

Grand Rapids nursing home blamed in resident's death

State investigators say several staff members noted the resident’s decline but failed to call for emergency help.

Home-care worker awarded $30,000 in discrimination case

St. Louis Park firm was accused of discriminating on the basis of disabilities.
State mental hospital violated policy on use of restraints

State mental hospital violated policy on use of restraints

The Minnesota Security Hospital is ordered to take corrective steps after improper use of restraint and seclusion of a patient, in one case confining the individual for more than 17 hours.
May 21: St. Peter mental hospital faulted for bloody killing

May 21: St. Peter mental hospital faulted for bloody killing

State investigation cites St. Peter facility for “unacceptable failure” in January murder of patient.
May 23: Bloody killing at mental hospital triggers call for outside oversight

May 23: Bloody killing at mental hospital triggers call for outside oversight

Beating death of patient at mental hospital triggers a call for outside oversight.
Oct. 26: Dangerous use of restraints persists at homes for disabled

Oct. 26: Dangerous use of restraints persists at homes for disabled

Despite improvements, seclusion and dangerous restraints are still used.
Review: 'The Chain,' by Ted Genoways

Review: 'The Chain,' by Ted Genoways

NONFICTION: A disturbing exposé on how faster production lines at Midwest meatpacking plants threaten worker health and food safety.
In search of change, sex offenders at Moose Lake run for office

In search of change, sex offenders at Moose Lake run for office

Group at Moose Lake center aims to elect up to eight offenders to city and county positions.
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