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Child Welfare

As of 2005, there were more than 25 child welfare ombudsman programs in the United States. They generally address “out-of-home” situations involving minors, such as residential care facilities (public or-phanages), public agencies providing health and dental care services, public foster care and placement agencies, and family social services agencies. Several states also extend ombudsman services to juvenile offender concerns (juvenile detention programs and juvenile corrections) under the broader umbrella of child welfare ombudsman programs.

Because children cannot legally speak for themselves, ombudsman programs involving them are generally advocacy-based, and are referred to as such, e.g., Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate, or Tennessee’s Ombudsman for Children and Families. Ombudsman advocates for children are mostly concerned with complaints or issues involving:

  • overcrowded foster homes
  • abuse
  • neglect
  • inappropriate placements
  • dangerous environment placements
  • services not being provided
  • state agency visitation schedules not being followed
  • lack of contact with caseworkers
  • death or physical injury to a child
  • education and training not available or insufficient

Inside Child Welfare