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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
The Waters of Edina was one of four dozen facilities statewide reporting outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Minnesota details breadth of elder-care coronavirus cases

More than half of the 24 Minnesotans who have died from the disease lived in nursing homes or assisted-living centers.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state would begin releasing the names of long-term care facilities with residents or staff who have

In reversal, Minnesota will release names of senior care facilities with coronavirus

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said her agency will begin publishing the names on its website as early as Friday or Saturday.
The entrance to Johanna Shores, a senior living community in Arden Hills where two residents have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Residents

Names of care facilities with virus withheld

As deaths mount, pressure is building on the state to release more. The Minnesota Department of Health has cited concerns that releasing names would violate privacy laws.
Jeanne Calvit, founder of Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, with some of her colleagues, in healthier times. The St. Paul-based cent

Minn. DHS orders more than 200 adult day centers for seniors, people with disabilities to close

In a letter sent to providers on Sunday, the agency said staffers providing adult day services are not considered "critical sector" workers.
Danielle Jin, 57, visited her mother, Juan Zhu, 91, at an assisted-living facility in Vadnais Heights. Jin must talk to her mother at the window becau

Families agonize over separation as coronavirus spreads in Minnesota's nursing homes

Many fear the worst is yet to come, and their loved ones will die alone, with no one holding their hand.
Last week, Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and announced community mitigation strategies for Minnesotans in response to t

Walz orders aim to protect safety net for vulnerable Minnesotans

The latest in a flurry of executive orders would provide emergency relief to older and disabled Minnesotans.
Carmen Aspling and her fiancé John Sapp are homeless, but they found a place to stay in a Minneapolis church shelter operated by Simpson Housing Serv

Amid COVID-19, Minnesota homeless face daytime closures, nighttime crowds

The potentially devastating consequences of COVID-19 on the nearly 570,000 Americans without a place to live are starting to raise alarms.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka: “If these regulatory barriers are not removed, someone will very likely die, and not because of COVID-19, but because of p

Minnesota disability service providers shut adult day centers, leaving thousands in the lurch

More than 3,500 adults with disabilities have been affected by the closures as providers seek emergency relief.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead talked with Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, Chairman of the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee be

Watchdog calls for stronger oversight of $1B Minn. home health program

Legislative auditor's report notes progress but urges stronger oversight of state program.
Volunteer Kimberly Lawrence of Rosemount packed loaves of bread at Second Harvest Heartland, the state’s largest food bank. Staffers and volunteers

Minnesota charities ramp up efforts to fight hunger amid coronavirus

Already, many of Minnesota's 300 food shelves are bracing for a decline in donations and a shortage of volunteers.
Nurse Barbara Sager, an education training specialist, led a class of Presbyterian Homes employees on infection control in response to the COVID-19 ou

Minnesota nursing homes scramble to protect residents from coronavirus

Senior living facilities have imposed unprecedented limits on visitors.
New Horizon Academy has kept its north Minneapolis center afloat by spreading costs among the 80 centers in its network.

Minnesota faces sanctions for low child-care subsidies, state officials warn

After years of underfunding, Minnesota's state subsidies that help more than 15,000 low-income families have fallen well short of federal standards.
Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, has introduced legislation that would penalize the state Department of Human Services for every month that it fails

Minnesota DHS faces possible fines for breakdowns that led to Medicaid overpayments

A state Senate committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a new bill that would impose escalating fines, starting at $158,000 a month.
Disability advocates descended the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul on Wednesday afternoon after testifying in support of legislation that would

Minnesota advocates seek to abolish subminimum wages for people with disabilities

Thousands do assembly in "sheltered workshops."
“Every dime matters,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead told state state lawmakers at a Senate hearing last year. The embattled state age

Minn. Medicaid program made up to $29M in improper payments for duplicate accounts

More than 47,000 Minnesotans have multiple accounts in the state Medicaid system.
Nathaniel Hurse, a social worker, worries that his grandson, Cartier, could be removed from his care.

Minn. families, advocates fight to drop barriers to foster care

Minnesota has long had among the most stringent foster care licensing standards in the nation. Advocates say the overly strict rules are hurting kids.
Andrea Imhoff, data analyst and former Connect 700 participant who is on the autism spectrum, along with Kenneth Rodgers, coordinator of disability pr

Gov. Walz orders review of troubled state disability hiring program amid mismanagement reports

The once-lauded Connect 700 program has come under fire for being rolled out inconsistently across state agencies.
This home in West St. Paul is operated by the state Department of Human Services. It’s licensed to provide care and living services for up to four a

Man fatally stabs fellow resident at state-run mental health group home in West St. Paul

Another resident arrested in attack at state-run mental health facility in West St. Paul; others unharmed.
Supporters of a ballot initiative to loosen restraints on local rent control laws rallied in San Francisco in 2018.

Review: "Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America," by Conor Dougherty

NONFICTION: A New York Times reporter takes a hard look at the problem of affordable housing.
Apple Valley's ordinance prohibits people convicted of certain sex offenses from living within 1,500 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, churches and

Minnesota sex offenders sue over residency restrictions in Apple Valley

Attorneys argue the far-reaching ordinance effectively bars sex offenders from living in the city.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead called the state investigative report “troubling,” and said her agency was working to bolster training

Patient at Minn. state mental hospital abused, strapped to restraint chair, report says

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter has been cited nearly a dozen times for violating rules limiting the use of restraints on patients.
Eric Lindblad walked his bundled up 1-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Supernova, through the snow in Northeast Minneapolis last month.

Snowstorm to blanket Twin Cities, much of central, southern Minnesota

The forecast calls for 3 to 8 inches in the metro area, with heavier accumulations to the south.
Iris Altamirano, president of SEIU Local 26, addressed hundreds of janitors and security officers Saturday. They voted to authorize a strike over sick

Twin Cities janitors, security officers vote to authorize strike over pay, sick leave

The president of the SEIU Local 26 said "differences are still mighty."
A nurse’s aide at a senior care facility in Byron, Minn., posted this image of a patient with Alzheimer’s disease along with a demeaning message.

Court: Alzheimer's patient's photo posted on social media not illegal

Attorneys for the Alzheimer's patient's husband sued the facility, alleging the post revealed private information about the patient's health condition.
Derwin Turner, left, unloaded dozens of foam mats, along with Elim Church Lead Pastor Paul Stephen Olson, center, and KMS owner Ken McCraley, right, i

With state help, hundreds of shelter beds open for homeless Minnesotans

Gov. Walz launched effort to help the homeless.
Tori Boyer, a mother of three who has received MFIP assistance since she suffered a traumatic brain injury, said that for a time the monthly payments

Minnesota welfare payments to increase for first time since 1986

The raise of $100 a month for 29,000 families is the first since 1986.
Bradford Teslow, who has intellectual disabilities, was hired through the Connect 700 program for a job in state government, but says his multiple req

Minn. jobs program for people with disabilities fails to live up to promise

Fewer than 12% of hires still work in state jobs.

Woman hammers nails into her head; Maplewood assisted-living facility faulted

Woman pounded nails into her head that weren't detected for a month.
Minnesota State Senator J im Abeler led a hearing Wednesday where Minnesota Department of Human Services officials unveiled plans to improve the state

Minnesota takes steps to modernize disability services

People with disabilities and their families say the $3 billion program is confusing and arbitrary.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said the new internal audit is a sign her agency is responding to complaints.

Audit finds violations of laws to prevent fraud at DHS unit

An internal audit at the Minnesota Department of Human Services has found several violations of laws to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the division responsible for a recent series of improper payments.

Report: Minnesota shows progress in reducing child removals

The number of kids removed from homes because of abuse or neglect fell for first time in 9 years.
In 2017, Lisa Papp-Richards installed a camera to monitor the care of her mother, Mary Ann Richards, 77, at a nursing home in Bemidji, taking advantag

Minnesota law gives green light to surveillance cameras in senior homes

Cameras have become an important tool for families who suspect abuse in senior care facilities.
Jennifer Wright was shocked to learn that the senior care clinic that cares for her 84-year-old mother, Jo Wright, will be shutting down in February.

Clinic closings will worsen Minn. shortage of geriatric specialists

Hennepin Healthcare will be closing its Augustana and Parkside senior care clinics, both in Minneapolis, at the end of February.
State legislators from both parties and disability rights advocates are gearing up for a major push to reform Minnesota’s $3 billion assistance prog

Disability rights to take center stage as Minnesota Legislature sets to convene

Legislators from both parties want changes in the state's assistance program, plus more inclusion.
American Indian activists began to assemble outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday night to demand more emergency shelter beds for pe

Indian activists escalate campaign for more shelter beds in Twin Cities

The group said it will continue to occupy public spaces until officials approve a culturally-specific shelter.
Erik Wiltscheck has been homeless and living in a motel in Brooklyn Center since he was evicted last week from a “sober home” in Minneapolis. Wilt

Overdose at St. Paul 'sober home' sheds light on unregulated industry

Sober homes can play a vital role, but critics say oftentimes they're just a bed and a trigger for relapse.
Dustin Sabby’s family used state IRIS funding to install a whirlpool – “a godsend,” said his mom, Lori Sabby-Lemke, who said that it soothes D

In Wisconsin, people with disabilities can direct own medical funding

The controversial move shifted the balance of power away from insurers and government bureaucrats, and empowered individuals to make their own choices
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, left, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, right, met with displaced Francis Drake Hotel residents at Bethlehem Baptist Church,

Uprooted by fire, dozens of homeless families face an uncertain future amid housing crisis

An exterior inspection of the building determined that the eastern portion cannot be salvaged.
Social workers cleared of liability in 2013 death of 4-year-old Eric Dean

Social workers cleared of liability in 2013 death of 4-year-old Eric Dean

State appeals court rules 3 on staff have immunity.
Several hundred people marched in the silent Homeless Memorial March carrying signs that recognized the 190 homeless, previously homeless and advocate

Gov. Tim Walz nets nearly $5 million to combat homelessness in Minnesota

Leaders aim to open about 150 new shelter beds immediately.
Hennepin County Deputy Administrator Jennifer DeCubellis said the county’s child protection system has turned a corner and is “out of crisis,” b

Hennepin County agrees to sweeping improvements in child protection

"We are out of crisis" but not finished with reforms, a top official says.
Native American community members and leaders gathered around a fire before a teepee was erected during the early morning hours on Saturday along Fran

Indian activists end occupation of former Minneapolis homeless camp, vow to keep fighting for more shelter beds

They're negotiating with the city for more shelter beds.
Prayer ties are seen Saturday on a fence near where a teepee was erected during the early morning hours on a stretch of land along Hiawatha and Frankl

Indian activists hunker down at site of former Minneapolis homeless camp

For a second day, American Indian activists occupied the site of a once-sprawling homeless encampment, insisting they will not leave until local officials address their demands for more emergency shelter beds.
Protesters have erected a teepee at the center of a former homeless encampment in south Minneapolis, seen Saturday morning.

Indian activists reoccupy site of former Mpls. homeless camp

Despite city's efforts, more must be done to help the homeless, leaders say.
Patricia Wilson looks out of the bedroom at her group home to see if her mother has arrived. Her mother, Janet Resler, takes Wilson out to community m

Disabled Minnesota residents often live in costly isolation

Rather than helping develop care plans that would allow disabled Minnesotans to live in their homes, counties continue to steer thousands into facilities that promote dependency and isolation.
Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, questioned new Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead in September. Abeler said it’s unfair to ask the c

Minnesota counties resist costly payments for Department of Human Services errors

The department is trying to collect $9 million from counties for mistakes it made.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead

Human services commissioner fills several top posts at embattled Minnesota agency

They're the first major leadership appointments as Commissioner Jodi Harpstead rebuilds trust.
State Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead testified before lawmakers about what she has learned in her first 90 days and her plans going forwar

State DHS leader lays out plan to rebuild trust in troubled agency

Jodi Harpstead pledged to strengthen internal controls and form an outside advisory council that will include Bill George, the former Medtronic CEO who was once Harpstead's boss.
La Vang, 26, of Newport, a former home health nurse, was convicted of stealing painkillers from an elderly patient under his care.

Twin Cities home health nurse gets 18 months for stealing painkillers

Prosecutors sought a tough sentence because of the victim's prolonged suffering and vulnerability.
Apple Valley artist Sarah Bender is among the co-founders of the "Treat People Like People" campaign. She said people frequently make false assumption

New campaign highlights power of people with disabilities

Unlike many anti-abuse campaigns, which reduce victims to impassive caricatures, "Treat People Like People" features people with disabilities as fully actualized humans, with voices and dreams of their own.
Samuel Lee Sandbo, 21, of Windom, has been charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct with vulnerable adults.

Male aide charged with two sexual assaults at southwest Minnesota group homes

Both victims have significant intellectual and mental disabilities, according to a criminal complaint.

Infant dies after suffering serious injury at central Minnesota day care

The operator's license has been suspended.
DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead listened as Legislative Auditor James Nobles discussed the results of his investigation into Medicaid overpayments by

Counties will pay for some of DHS' growing financial failures

What was $48 million in improper payments to chemical dependency treatment providers has now grown into a more expensive problem as the Minnesota Department of Human Services revealed additional failures Monday.
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.