State agencies designate a special office to monitor the delivery of services and to handle customer complaints related to child welfare. The individual(s) who carry out these functions are often referred to as “ombudsmen “Generally, in response to a complaint, a review or investigation must occur at the local/county level before the State agency becomes involved. If it cannot be resolved at the local/county level, the next step is to contact the appropriate State office to discuss and/or resolve disagreements with the local agency. Resources include State and local examples.
Children's Ombudsman Offices: Office of the Child Advocate
National Conference of State Legislatures (2014)
Defines ombudsman and links to State offices and statutory codes.
The Foster Care Ombudsman: Applying an International Concept to Help Prevent Institutional Abuse of America's Foster Youth
Family Court Review, 45(3), 2007
Explains the concept of an ombudsman office, examines the benefits of ombudsman offices, and highlights current State programs that have had successful outcomes.
A U.S. National Ombudsman for Children (PDF - 104 KB)
In Big Ideas: Game-Changers for Children
Suggests implementing a national ombudsman to help oversee and protect the rights of children. Legal standards are discussed and UNICEF's suggested practices and actions as a human rights agency for children are cited.
2007 Annual Report: Office of the Milwaukee Ombudsman for Child Welfare (PDF - 308 KB)
Office of the Milwaukee Ombudsman for Child Welfare (2008)
Summarizes activities, accomplishments, and recommendations for systemic improvement.
2016 Annual Report: Washington Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (PDF - 1,202 KB)
Washington Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (2016)
Provides an account of complaint investigation activities from September 1, 2012, through August 31, 2013, as well administrative reviews of critical incidents such as child fatalities and near fatalities, including cases through December 2012. This report also provides recommendations to improve the quality of State services for children and families.
Continued Research to Address the Need for a Children's Ombudsman in Colorado
Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center (2008)
View Abstract and Document
Discusses the findings of a task force that investigated the feasibility of establishing a children's ombudsman office in Colorado and reviews the benefits of a children's ombudsman office.
Virginia Commission on Youth
Examines the findings of a study exploring the need for an ombudsman office in Virginia. Findings and recommendations are proposed for the services that would be provided as well as for the structure and financing of the office.