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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
Kristine Sundberg, executive director of Elder Voice Advocates, called for heightened oversight of senior care facilities at a legislative hearing in

Searching for a senior home? A new tool helps Minnesotans screen out unsafe providers

The website is a collaboration of elder advocates and the state Department of Health.
Anthony Jackson, 18, spent some time in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on Oct. 31, 2022. He is among hundreds of Minnesota foster youth who have bee

Minn. counties take millions in benefits meant for children in foster care

Foster youth and their advocates are pushing to ban the practice — which they say is tantamount to theft.
Jody Brennan and her daughter Maddie, who has Down syndrome and lives at a Bridges MN group home, on a walk at Memorial Park in Shakopee, Minn.

Troubled Minnesota provider of disability services agrees to be acquired

Hundreds of people with disabilities have been in limbo since Bridges MN had its license revoked in June.
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm

State regulators move to take control of three troubled care homes in Minneapolis

Thousands of dollars were transferred out of resident accounts, state health officials allege.
Shannon Smith, executive director of the Minneapolis-based ICWA Law Center, wrote a legal brief in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The closel

Minnesota tribal members ponder future of Native child welfare ahead of Supreme Court challenge

The case challenges a law meant to protect American Indian children from being removed from their families.
Sunday's red-flag warning for wildfires was rare for November in Minnesota

Sunday's red-flag warning for wildfires was rare for November in Minnesota

A storm system will move in this week that should bring some relief to drought-stricken parts of the state.
Personal care assistant Julie Britton helped Dennis Prothero, 68, an amputee, get ready for the day Wednesday.

Stranded without care, Minn. man loses limbs because of severe staffing shortage

Thousands of home caregiving jobs are going unfilled, jeopardizing the health of people with disabilities.
Deddtrease Edwards was 14 when she was sent out of state to a center for troubled youth because of a lack of beds in Minnesota. “My childhood was ro

Minnesota youth most in need of juvenile system help have nowhere to go

As youth detention centers close, Minnesota runs out of places to rehabilitate kids who commit serious crimes.
Raven Moe, 26, who has spina bifada, and her mother have been at the forefront of a growing movement to expand access to voting and to amplify disabil

Minnesotans with disabilities flex political muscle ahead of midterm elections

One of the state's largest voting blocs is seeking to build momentum through a new wave of organizing.
Michael Goze, left, and David Goodman peek around the outside of a tiny home trailer that was donated to their nonprofit which is sitting outside the

Spurred by friend's death, man builds tiny house for homeless Native Americans

A grieving mother described the 146-square-foot home as "an act of love."
Sadie, a rescue cat, snuggles up to Marjorie Wood, 81, who lives with her son Alex Talon, who also is his mother’s caregiver.

Minnesota seniors strike back against soaring rents

A sharp increase in rent has galvanized tenants struggling to get by on fixed incomes
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead

Lawmakers grill DHS chief about shoddy financial controls

Several Republican legislators repeated their call to split up the massive agency.
Program supervisor Fawn Beckman helped Tommy Toung look for jobs in classic car shops at MSS, a large disability service provider, on Friday, Sept. 16

Minn. expands push to phase out subminimum wages for people with disabilities

The state on Friday announced $10.5 million in grants for employment service providers.
Panda Olson with father Ronald Lund. He fell from a third-story window at the nursing home where he was living — the Estates of St. Louis Park. He i

Troubled nursing home ordered to pay millions in neglect cases

The Estates at St. Louis Park has been cited nearly 50 times in recent years for violating federal health standards
Panda Olson of Ham Lake visits her 86-year-old father, Ronald Lund at the White Pine Advanced Memory Care on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Panda was horri

Choosing a safe nursing home: Where to get information

There are several ways to learn more about such sites in Minnesota.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead

Minnesota DHS chief addresses revelations of shoddy oversight of housing grants

She testifies a week after the Office of the Legislative Auditor released a critique of the agency.
The report by Legislative Auditor Judy Randall’s office noted that flawed oversight “leaves the department open to potential fraud and abuse.”

DHS oversight of housing grants flawed, legislative auditor finds

The Minnesota Department of Human Services failed to provide adequate oversight while awarding tens of millions of dollars of grants to support the homeless and others in need of housing assistance, according to a report.
Robert Krause, held a photo of his mother, Jean Krause in 2017.

Minnesota guardian cleared of liability in sexual assault case

Guardians have broad immunity from claims of negligence, an appellate panel ruled.
Maija Hitt took her medication for the day while her partner and caretaker, Umar Williams, made her breakfast last week at their home in St. Paul.

Disabled Minnesotans face growing waits for home care

Hundreds of Minnesotans with physical and mental disabilities are experiencing prolonged waits for crucial social services because county governments are failing to keep pace with a surge in demand amid a workforce shortage.
Debra, left, and her cousin Arriell. Each girl experienced starkly different versions of Minnesota’s juvenile justice system.

Two cousins with diverging fates show promise, failure of youth rehabilitation in Minn.

Each day, Minnesota judges and prosecutors make life-altering decisions about children who break the law. Most kids end up entangled in the county court system, but some youth are offered an alternative, known as diversion. A child's future can hinge on the path that is chosen.
LaVonne Borsheim, 88, set up a game of dominoes for a weekly game she plays with fellow residents at her assisted living home on Wednesday, July 27, 2

Minnesota senior homes are besieged by staff stealing pain medications

More than 11,300 medications have been stolen from residents in the past eight years, study reveals
Marrie Bottelson, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, went for a walk with roommate and caregiver Ila Unga and Unga’s two sons. 

For disabled Minnesotans, a step closer to homes of their own

A lawsuit settlement could end the isolation of hundreds of Minnesotans in group homes.
Missing 10-year-old Minneapolis girl found safe, police say

Missing 10-year-old Minneapolis girl found safe, police say

Investigators are working to develop a chronology of what occurred, police said.
Death of Minneapolis toddler ruled a homicide

Death of Minneapolis toddler ruled a homicide

An autopsy found the boy suffered "multiple blunt force injuries."
Madison Meyer struggled against a rare and debilitating genetic disorder that severely weakened her immune system. Despite her disability, she partici

Farmington teen who fought rare genetic disorder dies at 17

Madison 'Madi' Meyer went hunting with her dad, attended prom and joined her school cheerleading squad, refusing to be limited by her condition.
Crisis therapists Michael Raguet and Lori Wegner at the Mental Health Crisis Program offices inside the Carver County Government Center in Chaska on T

Dial 988: New mental health crisis hotline launches Saturday

The new hotline is expected to send crisis call volumes soaring, prompting some to ask if Minnesota is ready.
The Mental Health Crisis Program offices inside the Carver County Government Center were photographed Tuesday in Chaska.

What you need to know about the new 988 crisis support hotline

The new, easy-to-remember number launches Saturday.
Jody Brennan and her daughter Maddie, who has Down syndrome and lives at a Bridges MN group home, on a walk at Memorial Park in Shakopee, Minn.

Future of a major provider of disability services in Minnesota remains in doubt

Hundreds of Bridges MN clients are in limbo while provider appeals state enforcement action.
Jody Brennan and her daughter Maddie photographed Wednesday at Memorial Park in Shakopee.

State action vs. disability service provider could affect hundreds

Bridges MN has been sanctioned more than 50 times for a wide range of health and safety violations.
Legislative Auditor Judy Randall released a report Friday on child removals and maltreatment investigations in Minnesota. Here, Randall testified befo

Minnesota's child welfare policies vary widely across state, report finds

The number of children removed from families has dropped sharply in recent years, a report from the legislative auditor has found.
A former resident of a homeless encampment in Minneapolis moved her belongings before city officials cleared this camp in January. 

Homeless Minnesotans struggle to get COVID-19 vaccine

An expansive new study found that rates of vaccination among Minnesotans who are homeless or in jail are drastically lower than in the general population, suggesting they are not getting equal access to the shots despite aggressive outreach.
Mykola Sarazhynskyy and Howard Dotson unloaded a cart of medical supplies Wednesday at Ukrainian American Community Center in Minneapolis.

Tourniquets and body armor: A lifeline of help for Ukraine

A volunteer effort more than 5,000 miles away in Minnesota ships crucial supplies to the front lines.
Matt Guidry on a walk with his son, Caleb, 31, in Maple Grove. Caleb has a rare a rare genetic disorder that has affected his speech and cognitive dev

Minnesotans with disabilities feel left behind amid workforce shortage

More than 3,500 adults with disabilities await openings in day and employment programs, according to an industry survey.
Relatives gathered in September for a funeral service for Marcoz, 14, one of two teens killed in a crash during a high-speed chase. His mother, Tanya

Minnesota's juvenile justice system failing youth, families, victims

A Star Tribune examination of hundreds of juvenile court records finds that the system is failing to effectively intervene in the lives of Minnesota's most troubled youth, often despite anguished pleas from parents.
Large fire drives hundreds from apartment building in New Hope

Large fire drives hundreds from apartment building in New Hope

One person was taken to the hospital with injuries.
Oksana Shaw wiped away a tear while listening to a speaker talk about the plight of women and children in Ukraine, following a march of more than 100

'Our humanity is at stake': Rally calls for end to Russia's invasion

More than 100 Ukrainian Minnesotans rallied in Minneapolis on Sunday, the fifth time in as many weeks that community members have taken to the streets to call for peace.
Daisy Pitkin, photo by Scott Buchanan

Review: 'On the Line,' by Daisy Pitkin

NONFICTION: An intimate look at the volatile work of union organizing.
Yuliya (Julia) Li

Yuliya (Julia) Li, Twin Cities business executive, dies at 34

Successful marketing executive at H.B. Fuller died in a shooting that St. Paul police called random.
A Minneapolis Police Department squad car.

Man shot during confrontation with carjackers in south Mpls.

A man was hospitalized after being shot Thursday night during an apparent carjacking attempt in south Minneapolis.Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct responded…
A long standoff with a suspect in Austin, Minn., ended with police fatally shooting him.

Austin police shoot, kill man wielding machete after standoff

A man who was allegedly armed with a machete in public was fatally shot Thursday night by police in Austin after a standoff that lasted…
Hundreds marched through Loring Park in Minneapolis on Thursday to honor the more than 200 people who died while sleeping on the streets in 2021.

New approach offers hope for Minnesotans 'living in shadows'

Across Minnesota, county agencies and nonprofits that do outreach are increasingly embracing a "housing first" strategy, in which everyone who is identified as homeless is offered a stable home without preconditions such as sobriety or employment.
Leon “Lee” Cook, a member of the Red Lake Nation, rose from poverty to become one of the nation’s leading advocates for Native American rights.

Leon 'Lee' Cook, a 'true man of the people' and lifelong advocate for tribal rights, dies at 82

He died Oct. 13 at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center in Bemidji of a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
Vicki Parchman of Fridley said she has been “waiting years” for the state to develop an easy-to-use website like MNbenefits. She has been receivin

State streamlines site to apply for safety-net programs

Minnesota officials say the online platform should help prevent people from losing their benefits unnecessarily and falling deeper into poverty for failure to meet burdensome paperwork requirements.
:Tina Thomas, grandmother of a teen accused of assaulting an Uber driver in St. Paul, pointed to where he sometimes sleeps in her home. He was not cha

New push to divert youth from juvenile court in Ramsey County stirs controversy

New Ramsey County effort aims to rehabilitate teens, but sheriff says it lets dangerous youth go free.
Glen Stubbe - Star Tribune file  St. Therese of New Hope was the site last year of one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state.

Whistleblower accuses Minnesota nursing home of violating COVID-19 health regulations

A former administrator at St. Therese of New Hope alleges she was fired for speaking out about the violations.
The Minnesota Council on Disability plans to boycott the Minnesota State Fair over the absence of mask mandates and other safety measures that would h

Minnesota disability agency to boycott State Fair over lack of mask and vaccine mandates

The Minnesota Council on Disability says its safety concerns have been ignored.
Residents at the Jones-Harrison Senior Living complex participated in Chaplain Chat, a three-times-a month gathering with Chaplain Monica Powers where

'Lives will be saved': New protections for Minnesota seniors in assisted living go into effect

Nearly 55,000 seniors in assisted living gain sweeping protections.
Family members of detainees at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program gathered on Sunday near the treatment center in Moose Lake. Carlos Taylor comforted

Hunger strike takes toll on detainees at Minn. sex offender treatment center

Three detainees have been hospitalized since the strike began a week ago.
Mary Jo Brambrink shredded paper at Options in Big Lake, where despite the low pay, some find a sense of purpose.

Minnesota to phase out unequal pay jobs for people with disabilities

Move could affect 8,000 employees in Minnesota's sheltered workshops.
Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, an advocate for social justice causes and co-founder of the Mapping Prejudice Project, died last week of unknown causes. He was

Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, social justice activist and co-founder of Mapping Prejudice Project, dies at 33

Ehrman-Solberg excelled at digital mapmaking.
Swimmers flocked to Lake Nokomis has the heat soared in the Twin Cities last July. Water-related incidents claimed three lives and left one seriously

Four drown, 2-year-old hurt in Minnesota lakes, rivers over weekend

On Sunday evening, a 9-year-old was reported missing at Carver Lake Park Beach in Woodbury. A police officer dove into the lake and found the child, who was later pronounced dead.
Janice L. Lindstrom spent much of her adult life pushing for stronger protections for American Indian children. She died on May 7 of cancer at age 75.

Janice L. Lindstrom, champion for American Indian legal rights and family preservation, dies at 75

Lindstrom helped tribes and counties across the nation to develop programs to ensure that federal law was followed and Indian children were not forcibly removed.
Zach and Stephanie Nichols, parents of Ronan, 8, said he will be coming home to a renovated room.

Minnesota kids languish in ERs while waiting for psych beds

Parents of children as young as 7 or 8 describe agonizing waits in emergency departments that are not equipped to treat people with serious mental illness and where prolonged stays can be traumatic.
Ageane Reed, center, an office manager at Oak Meadows Senior Living in Oakdale, is coming around to feeling safe about the vaccine.

Many Minnesota nursing home workers still refuse vaccines

Facilities are ramping up efforts to persuade workers to embrace the vaccines.
Michael Elder, who faced obstacles securing vaccine, celebrated with a social media post after receiving an initial dose of the Pfizer drug at the Sta

State bets big on fairgrounds in push to inoculate hardest-hit

Thousands of Twin Cities residents are benefiting from a highly coordinated campaign to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to minority communities hardest hit by the pandemic. At the center of the initiative is the State Fairgrounds.
Chris Runyon, who gave the Moderna vaccine to Michael Christy at United Labor Center, is determined not to throw out any doses

'You can feel the joy': One nurse's race to vaccinate as many Minnesotans as she can

"It's like we're all on the Titanic and trying to get everyone we can on the lifeboats as fast as we possibly can," said Chris Runyon, who works for Hennepin Healthcare.
A psychologist who worked at this state-run sex offender treatment facility in Moose Lake has been charged with sexually assaulting two men who have b

Psychologist at Minnesota sex offender program charged with sexually assaulting two clients

Minn. Sex Offender Program psychologist assaulted two male clients, charges say.
At the playground at her mother’s apartment complex, Janesha Anderson watches her son Jermel, 7, play. She has struggled to meet the cumbersome pape

Walz aims to cut red tape, boost welfare benefits for poor families

The measures being considered at the State Capitol are designed to reduce stress and provide some income stability.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead addressed members of the Legislative Audit Commission in 2019 over regulatory breakdowns that led to overpa

Legislative Auditor finds shoddy oversight of grants at DHS

Report issued Monday cites mismanagement, legal violations in grants awarded by Behavioral Health Division from 2017 to 2020.
Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead.

Despite hurdles, Minnesota DHS chief continues push to clean up agency's financial mess

Auditor report Monday is expected to reveal new oversight failures.
James Allison, 49, an eight year veteran with the Marine Corps, received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at the Minneapolis VA.

VA outreach puts Minnesota veterans on vaccine fast track

Nearly 40% of the patient population of the Minneapolis and St. Cloud VA health systems has received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine — a rate that has far outpaced the rest of the state.
Rick Cardenas, a pioneering advocate for people with disabilities, died on March 10 of complications related to a strike. He was 79.

Rick Cardenas: Tireless champion for Minnesotans with disabilities

Rick Cardenas, a towering figure in Minnesota's disability rights community, whose decades of relentless advocacy helped redefine how many Minnesotans think of people with disabilities,…
Keyana Johnson was 21 years old and pregnant when she “aged out” of the foster care system. Here, Johnson started her day with her children Stepho

Minnesota extends lifeline to foster youth hit by pandemic

Gov. Tim Walz's administration earlier this month imposed a moratorium on youth being discharged from foster care through September, while allowing those who aged out during the pandemic to return to care.
Brenna White, a nurse with Ridgeview Medical Center, prepared to vaccinate Lois Gatz, 90, with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, in Gatz

Minnesota agencies launch efforts to vaccinate homebound seniors

Home care nurses are going door-to-door to deliver vaccines to homebound seniors.
A year ago, Douglas Pyle was trapped in a downward spiral of homelessness and substance abuse. Now he has his own apartment and his addiction is in ch

'We saved lives': How isolating Minnesota's homeless kept them safe from COVID-19

Statewide effort to house homeless likely saved lives and also brought stability.
Victoria Conrad opened her arms to do a distant hug with her 99-year old father Howard Seitzer as they met for their first face-to-face visit since th

Minnesota rolls back restrictions on senior home visits as COVID-19 cases decline

Many homes had placed strict limits on visitation nearly a year ago as the virus spread across the state.
Rosie Eberhard, a Oak Meadows Senior Home resident, filled out puzzles as she and other ladies sat near the entrance of the Oakdale senior home in Feb

Minnesota senior homes slow to lift lockdowns on family visits

New federal guidelines are likely to increase pressure on senior homes to reopen.
Sam Corbett, 38, who has Down syndrome, went to North Dakota this week with his mom, Heidi Randolph of Richfield, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thousands of Minnesotans cross state lines for COVID-19 vaccine

Uncertainty about when COVID-19 vaccine shots will be available has given rise to a booming new form of travel, known as "vaccine tourism." More than 15,000 Minnesotans have left the state to get vaccines elsewhere.
Wally Emery, left, who serves meals at Oak Meadows Senior Home in Oakdale, gave resident Donna Chapp a welcome hug.

COVID-19 vaccines bring joy back to Minn. senior homes

A dramatic plunge in new coronavirus cases, combined with an aggressive rollout of vaccines, has injected new life into senior communities.
More than 730 sex offenders are confined at secure treatment centers like this one in St. Peter, Minn. ORG XMIT: MIN1701051450030487

Case challenging constitutionality of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program can move forward

A federal court in St. Paul will review whether the program is "unconstitutionally punitive."
‘Inspiring and disheartening’: In trying to get her parents vaccinated, Maura Caldwell waited in line with them for hours, hoping for leftover dos

'Like the Hunger Games': Minn. vaccine hunters chase doses via social media

"Vaccine chasers" pool their intel on Facebook, with tips on where to get the shots on short notice
Gov. Tim Walz had his temperature checked as he entered the Jones-Harrison Residence nursing home in south Minneapolis Tuesday, to highlight the state

COVID-19 cases plunge at Minnesota senior homes as vaccinations ramp up

State health officials say there are promising signs the COVID-19 vaccine is reducing infections.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, would shield health care providers from a wide range of lawsuits and government sanctions

Minnesota bill would shield health care providers from COVID-related lawsuits

The bill already has aroused strong passions and sets the stage for a showdown this legislative session.
A dozen men held at this sex offender treatment center in Moose Lake ended a 14-day hunger strike after state officials agreed to meet with the men an

Sex offenders at Moose Lake end 14-day hunger strike after reaching deal with state officials

DHS officials promised to meet with the sex offenders and explore changes to the state program.
Suzy Lindeberg of West Lakeland Township has been trying to get vaccine for her son John, 20, who has Down syndrome.

People with disabilities push for inclusion in Minn. vaccine plan

Advocates say Minnesota's vaccine plan discriminates against vulnerable populations who live on their own: "We feel forgotten."