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What Is a Children’s Ombud and What Does an Ombudsperson Do?

A Children’s Ombud is a state employee who acts as “an independent, impartial public official with authority and responsibility to receive, investigate or informally address complaints about government actions, and, when appropriate, make findings and recommendations, and publish
reports.”

An Office of Children’s Ombuds is an independent, impartial state government office with employees responsible for receiving complaints and grievances from children, parents, and other stakeholders related to state services for children. Ombuds investigate these matters, assist and assure their resolution, and report to inform the public, the Legislature, and the Governor about general and specific opportunities for improvement.

The National Conference of State Legislatures guides states interested in doing right by their children and has published a beneficial introduction to Children’s Ombudsman Offices. The information for lawmakers is available at: https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/childrens-ombudsman-offices.aspx

What do Offices of Children’s Ombuds Do?

The specific functions of an Office of Children’s Ombuds vary by state, but the essential roles of the offices include:

  • Handling and investigating complaints from citizens and families about government services for children and families. This work includes all child-serving state agencies; child protection, foster care, adoptions, services for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and juvenile justice services.
  • Providing a “system accountability mechanism” by recommending system-wide improvements to benefit children and families. These recommendations are generally in the form of annual reports to the public, the Legislature, and the Governor.
  • Protecting children and families’ rights, individually and syste-mwide.
  • Monitoring programs, placements, and departments responsible for providing children’s services. In some jurisdictions, this includes objective reviews of state facilities and institutions and state-funded facilities and programs.

How a Louisiana Office of Children’s Ombuds would do its work will be a function of the laws and regulations that create and guide the work of the office. However, its work will also be influenced by the expertise, and initiative of the Ombuds Office’s staff members.

Learn More about an Office of Ombuds for Louisiana’s Children

what is a child ombudsman

Louisiana Office of Children's Ombuds   Download our new advocacy paper:  Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

ombudsman graphics   See the Quick Explainer InfographicWhy Louisiana Requires an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

letter to Louisiana Senate Health and Welfare   Read our open letter to the Louisiana Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee regarding Louisiana’s need for an Office of Children’s Ombuds.

Louisiana Legislature child welfare legislation   Read 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?

Ombudsman FAQ   Check out these FAQs about Children’s Ombuds for answers to your questions!

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