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Child Ombudsman

Louisiana Creates an Office of Children’s Ombudsman!

On June 7, 2023, Louisiana’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 137, proposed by Senator Regina Barrow, which establishes the Louisiana Office of the State Child Ombudsman! On June 21, Governor John Bel Edwards signed SB 137 into law as Act 325 of the 2023 Legislature.

An ombudsman is an impartial government official who investigates and resolves complaints made by the public about government agencies or organizations. In this case, the ombudsman will focus on complaints related to state services for children.

Access to a Children’s Ombudsman will make it easier for Louisiana’s parents, grandparents, and caregivers to ensure their children receive appropriate services. Once the Louisiana Office of the State Child Ombudsman is operational, if you should have a complaint or concern about the services your child receives (or does not receive) from a Louisiana state office or department, there will be an independent, objective state official who will hear you and help you resolve your legitimate grievance.

The advocacy information we shared to educate the public and promote the creation of an Office of Children’s Ombudsman to benefit Louisiana’s children is provided below as reference material.



UpdateNational Conference of State Legislatures has updated its information about children’s ombudsman offices. (05/25/2023)

ReadAdvocacy for a Louisiana Office of Children’s Ombudsman
letter to Louisiana Senate Health and WelfareRead our open letter to the Louisiana Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee regarding Louisiana’s need for an Office of Children’s Ombuds. (11/03/2022)
Louisiana Office of Children's OmbudsDownload our new advocacy whitepaper:  Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds (11/21/2022)
ombudsman graphicsSee the Quick Explainer InfographicWhy Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds (11/21/2022)
Louisiana Legislature child welfare legislationRead the one page, The Louisiana Legislature is Active on Children’s Bills, but Louisiana Ranks Poorly on Child Well-being. Would an Office of Children’s Ombudsman Help? (12/05/2022)
Logic Model for Louisiana Office of Children's OmbudsReview a Simple Logic Model for Office of Children’s Ombudsman (12/31/2022)
Logic Model for Louisiana Office of Children's OmbudsRead the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about a Louisiana Children’s Ombudsman (updated 01/05/2023)
Directory of State Legislation Creating Ombudsman Services for ChildrenInterested in ombuds legislation? It’s here: Directory of State Legislation Creating Ombudsman Services for Children in the United States. (01/20/2023)
ombudsman graphicsLearn what Ombuds for Children Do:  Children’s Ombudspersons: Their Work and Responsibilities (01/22/2023)
ombuds legislationOn March 30, 2023, Senator Regina Barrow prefiled Senate Bill 137 which “Creates the Office of Child Advocacy and the state child advocate.” (03/30/2023)

Follow SB137’s progress through the Louisiana Legislature.


In the NewsEditorial: What is real answer to cases of abused children? Our Views, Staff Editorial, Times-Picayune/NOLA.com. May 24, 2023.

In the NewsCan Louisiana’s children be helped? Lawmakers push this potential solution for welfare failures: A bill to create the new ombudsman position is moving through Louisiana’s legislature. by Andrea Gallo, Louisiana Politics section, Times Picayune. May 22, 2023.

In the NewsJim Beam column: Children, juveniles need help. by Jim Beam, American Press. March 18, 2023.

YouTubePresentation to the Baton Rouge Press Club by Rick Wheat about Creating a Louisiana Office of Childrens Ombudsman. January 23, 2023.

In the NewsHow do other states protect children? Louisiana is an outlier without ombudsman, transparency by Andrea Gallo, The Advocate. December 25, 2022.

In the NewsGuest column: Louisiana needs an ombudsman for children | Opinions and Editorials | nola.com. December 17, 2022.


Special Emphasis:  Louisiana Needs an Ombudsman for Children

Louisiana's Children need strong advocatesLouisiana lacks what most states have, an objective state official to hear, resolve, and report on the complaints of children and parents related to state services for children. We do not have an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

An ombudsman is an independent official who investigates and resolves complaints made by members of the public about government agencies or organizations. An office of ombudsman for children is a government agency or organization that investigates and resolves complaints made by or on behalf of children about government agencies or organizations.

Not having an Ombuds for children makes Louisiana harder for all of us – parents, grandparents, relative caregivers, foster caregivers, and especially, our children.

For example, if you should have a complaint about the services your child receives (or does not receive) from a Louisiana state office or department, there is no state official appointed to hear you and help you resolve your grievance. No state office or official hears Louisiana’s concerns and reports the official findings to the Legislature and the public.


Louisiana Has No Ombudsman Services for Children

Louisiana has no impartial, independent official or office that is responsible for hearing grievances related to children’s services, ensuring complaints are resolved, and reporting on them to the public, the Legislature, and the Governor. To the point, Louisiana lacks a fundamental element of infrastructure required to improve child well-being: an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

As systems fail to protect children or even passively allow harm, Louisiana must find a way to hear the complaints, resolve the grievances, and transparently report on the findings of a Louisiana Office of Children’s Ombuds.

In Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds we propose that Louisiana create an Office of Children’s Ombuds to hear the grievances of children and families, resolve their complaints, and report publicly regarding findings and opportunities to improve Louisiana’s services for children.


All Louisiana child-serving agencies and offices struggle to provide good services. Yet, Louisiana’s children require these public services – created to ensure their well-being – are sound.

Children, parents, family members, and foster caregivers are the first to know when care is lacking. They know before the headlines appear. Unfortunately, unlike most states, Louisiana has no Office of Children’s Ombuds to hear them.

Recent news reports of the conditions and well-being of Louisiana’s children who depend on state agencies for their care and protection are dismaying. With its struggling child services agencies and ranked next-to-last among all the states for child well-being, Louisiana has something in common with the four worst states for children: Louisiana has no Office of Children’s Ombuds.

When Louisiana’s children do not receive good services from state agencies and offices, they nor their parents, kinship caregivers, and foster caregivers have an objective office where they trust their voices are heard and believed. No objective individual or office in Louisiana’s state government is responsible for gathering information about grievances related to children’s services, resolving complaints, and reporting to the public, the Legislature, and the Governor.

To the make a finer point, Louisiana lacks a fundamental key to improve child well-being: an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

As our public systems fail to protect children or even passively allow harm, Louisiana must find a way to gather and hear the complaints, resolve the real grievances, and transparently report on the findings to elected officials and the public.

The accompanying paper, Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds, provides information about Children’s Ombuds for you to consider. We cannot allow our state’s past to be its future.


Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services is preparing to privatize Home Development (aka Foster Care) in the Baton Rouge region. Louisiana’s decision to do this before creating a Foster Care Ombuds or an Office of Child Ombudsman seems premature and risky.

By privatizing foster care in the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Thibodaux regions before creating an Office of Children’s Ombuds, Louisiana’s Legislature may push the foster care system further beyond its control without first implementing a mechanism to improve oversight of the privatization effort. Ironically, Louisiana’s chronic lack of objective review helped create the very situation that privatizing seeks to correct.


The word ombuds means “representative” and “defender of citizens.” In the U.S., states use several variations of the word as titles of officials who assist children in receiving what they need from state agencies: child ombuds, child ombudsman, child ombudsperson, or child advocate.

While all states provide Ombuds services for the Elderly, and 86% of states have Ombuds services for children, Louisiana does not provide ombudsman services for children.

Louisiana does not have an Ombuds Office for Children.

Given the dismal condition of Louisiana’s efforts on behalf of children, creating an Office of Child Ombuds (and providing ombuds services for Foster Care) is on the Checklist for Improving Louisiana for Children.

Q: What do the four U.S. states ranked worst for child well-being in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2021 Kids Count Databook lack in common?

A: The four states ranked worst do not have an Office of Child Ombudsman. (Yes, Louisiana is among the last in 2021 with a 32 year average rank of 49th. Creating an Office of Child Ombuds would be a small but significant step for Louisiana’s Legislature to take on behalf of our children.)

Ombuds for Children assist children and their parents or guardians to resolve concerns about their interactions with state agencies. This support is critical when a child’s needs are not being met according to state policy and regulations. (Ombuds also do more, which I will point out below, to keep legislators and the public informed about the state of children’s affairs.)

Federal laws require states to have Ombuds for the Elderly. However, no federal law requires a state to have an Ombuds for Children. Consequently, each state government determines for itself if it wishes to “listen” to children and parents and provide recourse when state services are not up to par. Louisiana, with more than 1,090,000 children (and just as many reasons to listen), has not created an Office of Child Ombuds.

The Roles of Child Ombudsman

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an Office of Child Ombudsman performs the following functions:

  • Child Ombuds handle and investigate complaints from citizens and families related to government services for children and families. This may include child protective services, foster care, adoption and juvenile justice services.
  • An Office of Children’s Ombuds provides a government accountability mechanism for legislators and governors. The accountability process includes recommending system-wide improvements, based on collected grievances and findings, to benefit children and families – often in the form of annual reports to the Legislature, Governor and public.
  • A Child Ombudsman protects the interests and rights of children and families – both individually and system-wide.
  • Child Ombuds may monitor programs, placements, and departments responsible for providing children’s services – which may include inspecting state facilities and institutions.

In addition to these standard roles, specific duties vary by state and purview. For example, in a large state like Texas with multiple Ombudsman, an ombudsman for child welfare services will have different duties than an ombudsman who specializes in juvenile justice. Generally, though, Ombuds for Children may work to promote the rights and interests of children in many ways, including the nine described in “Children’s Ombudspersons: Their Work and Responsibilities“, which is available for download.


What Do Child Ombuds Reports Look Like?

The links to reports related to other states’ ombudsman offices are examples of the value an Office of Child Ombudsman brings to a state.

Texas Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman (FCO) resolved 569 complaints from youth in FY 2021.

Maine, ranked 11 for child well-being, further strengthens its Office of Child Welfare Ombudsman.

State of New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate, Fifth Annual Report, 2021-2022

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