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Children’s Ombudspersons: Their Work and Responsibilities

Children’s Ombuds are independent public officials responsible for protecting children’s rights in their interactions with state agencies by hearing complaints, helping resolve legitimate complaints, and reporting findings. While specific duties vary by state and purview, generally, Ombuds for Children may work to promote the rights and interests of children in many ways, including by:

Giving Children and Families a Voice
Children’s ombudspersons hear children and their parents’ complaints about the services they receive or do not receive from public child-serving agencies.

Investigating Legitimate Complaints about Public Services for Children
Children’s ombudspersons investigate complaints made by children or their advocates about issues that affect children’s rights or well-being.

Removing Fear of Retaliation
Children’s Ombudspersons independently hear children, parents, foster caregivers, and other stakeholders who may be reluctant to express to child-serving agencies because of potential consequences.

Building and Maintaining a Knowledge Base
Children’s Ombudsmen produce a cumulative public record of citizens’ complaints and resolutions, providing valuable information to current and future leaders.

Advocating for Policy Changes
Children’s ombudspersons may advocate for policy changes at the state or national level to improve the lives and well-being of children.

Recommending Improvements to Public Services for Children
Children’s ombudspersons may provide recommendations to state legislatures or other government bodies on ways to improve the lives and well-being of children.

Educating the Public about Children’s Rights
Children’s ombudspersons may inform the public about children’s rights and the importance of protecting and promoting the well-being of children.

Monitoring Public Child-Serving Agencies
Children’s ombudspersons may monitor government agencies and programs that serve children to ensure that they meet their needs and protect their rights.

Collaborating with Other Organizations to Benefit Children
Children’s ombudspersons may collaborate with other organizations, including non-profit groups and advocacy organizations, to advance the rights and well-being of children.

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