About Us

On February 28, 2022, Governor DeWine signed Amended House Bill 4 into law, creating the Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office. The office shall investigate and resolve concerns made by or on behalf of children and families involved with public children services agencies, Title IV-E agencies, or private provider agencies that administer or oversee foster care or placement services for the children services system. The office shall ensure the independent and impartial review of youth, family, and community complaints or concerns.

You Spoke. We Listened.

As a result of feedback from foster youth from around Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine’s Children Services Transformation Advisory Council made 37 recommendations to reform Ohio’s children services system.

These recommendations were announced in November 2020. On May 31, 2022, the Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office was operational and ready to receive, review, and investigate complaints and make referrals for families and youth.

Another recommendation was the creation of Bills of Rights for foster youth and for resource families. These rights are spelled out in Ohio Administrative Code rules 5101:2-5-35 and 5101:2-42-20. The Youth and Family Ombudsmen’s Office was created to help make sure these rights are upheld.

Foster Youth Bill of Rights

Resource Family Bill of Rights

Meet the Ombudsman

Jenny R. Stotts, MS, LSW

"I believe in people and their capacity to change the world."

Jenny Stotts (she/her) serves as Ohio’s Youth Ombudsman. Prior to accepting this appointment, she served as the Executive Director of the Athens CASA/GAL Program and the Regional Coordinator of CASA in Southeast Ohio. Her professional experiences include direct practice in child protective services as a caseworker and forensic interviewer. Stotts also served in the area of workforce preparation as part of the University Partnership Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program (UPP). Stotts is a licensed social worker. Her volunteer work includes serving with Rotary International, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Child Conservation League and various foster youth and alumni organizations.

Jennifer Sheriff

"Positive change requires proactive courage."

Jennifer Sheriff has served in the field of public interest advocacy for well over a decade. Ms. Sheriff first began acquiring practical experience in the child protection arena while working as an intern with the Lucas County Juvenile Court CASA/GAL Department. After graduating from law school in 2008, she spent the next eight years prosecuting criminal cases with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office ranging from misdemeanor shoplifting to first-degree murder where a complex trial caseload helped hone her diverse advocacy skillset. Beginning in 2016, she managed a challenging child abuse and neglect caseload as an Assistant Attorney General representing the Arizona Department of Child Safety, an experience that only bolstered her passion for amplifying the voices of all children and families impacted by the child protection system. Guided by the invaluable perspectives gained during her most recent role as Lucas County Child Protection Ombudsman, Ms. Sheriff, as Ohio’s first Family Ombudsman, is committed to effectively elevating all unmet needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Team Members

Christine Pater
Assistant Family Ombudsman
The quote by Roy T. Bennett "Always have a willing hand to help someone, you might be the only one that does" is always on my mind when doing this work.
Jeff Phillips
Assistant Youth Ombudsman
The years I spent working as both an Independent Living Coordinator and Independent Living Supervisor opened my eyes to the importance of being intently receptive, understanding, and inclusionary when youth spoke.
Mindy Delvaux
Office Administrator
It is a blessing to be able to come alongside our youth and families to listen to them and guide them as they are walking through their journey of life.