Frequently Asked Questions

Pronunciation: "Om-budz-man"

Merriam-Webster defines an Ombudsman as a person who investigates, reports on and helps settle complaints.

Our office was created to serve foster youth and any youth involved in the children services system. Specifically, complaints to the Youth Ombudsman are concerning those less than 18 years old, a young adult who is in the temporary or permanent custody of a public children services agency, a planned permanent living arrangement, or in the Title IV-E eligible care and placement responsibility of a juvenile court or other governmental agency that provides Title IV-E reimbursable placement services, a Bridges participant, or an emancipated young adult. An emancipated young adult is a person who aged out of the custody of a PCSA or Title IV-E agency at/after the age of 18 and has not turned 21 years old. Anyone who is concerned about the care, placement, services or rights of a child or youth in foster care can contact our office.

  • Receive complaints from any youth involved in the children services system via an online Youth Complaint form or by calling 1-877-OH-YOUTH.
  • Review your complaints and questions - for example, about services you are receiving or should be receiving, if you believe your rights are being violated or ignored, or if you have concerns about your living conditions - and discusses any other issues or concerns you may have.
  • Investigate your concern and work to resolve your complaint. The Youth Ombudsman staff will explain how decisions were made on your case. In some cases, they may even make recommendations on how the system can change to make the situation better for everyone.
  • Prior to contacting the Youth Ombudsman, you should first talk to a trusted adult who can try to help you resolve your problem. This could be your parent, kinship caregiver, foster parent, caseworker, foster care worker, the caseworker or foster care worker's supervisor, your Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), guardian ad litem (GAL), or other professional working with you. In the event you are unable to connect with a trusted adult, you may contact the Youth Ombudsman right away.
  • Report cases of child abuse or neglect any time of the day or night by calling 1-855-642-4453 or 1-855-O-H-CHILD.
  • If you have reported abuse and neglect to the proper authorities and believe your rights are being violated or ignored, reach out the Youth Ombudsman for assistance.
  • A member of our Youth Ombudsman team will respond to you as quickly as possible, as we monitor incoming requests every business day. Your request for assistance is very important to us. Some reports to the Youth Ombudsman may fall outside of the scope of the office, however a member of the team will let you know either way and guide you to other resources if needed. Note: You may also contact us at 1-877-649-6884 (1-877-OH-YOUTH).
  • The Youth Ombudsman staff will notify you of the decision to investigate, offer periodic updates, and let you know when the complaint is closed. As part of the investigation, all complaints made to the office may include a review of records, contact with relevant agencies, and/or interviewing certain people.
  • Depending on the situation, the Youth Ombudsman staff may complete a review of the children services case file and make recommendations to all parties on ways to resolve the conflict.

The Youth Ombudsman maintains the confidentiality of youth who report concerns or complaints; however, the Youth Ombudsman is required under statute to release identifying information in certain situations. You will be notified if identifying information is required to be released.

After you submit a Youth Complaint form online or by calling 1-877-649-6884 (1-877-OH-YOUTH):

  • The Youth Ombudsman staff may contact you using the information you provide or by contacting the facility where you are currently living and asking to speak with you directly.
  • The Youth Ombudsman may ask to speak with you in person.
  • The Youth Ombudsman staff may contact family, friend(s) and/or professional supports you shared in your complaint submission.
  • There may be circumstances that require the Youth Ombudsman staff to contact the authorities (for example, to report child abuse or neglect, or information on a runaway youth).

The online Youth Complaint form has some required fields, which include your first and last name, date of birth, contact information, best times you can be reached, and a short description of your complaint. Should you call 1-877-649-6884 (1-877-OH-YOUTH), to make a complaint and leave a message, please make sure you include that same information. Please note, the office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am - 5 pm (except holidays).

When you make a complaint to the Youth Ombudsman staff, you must provide your name and contact information. However, the Youth Ombudsman will keep your name confidential if that is what you want. If it is not possible to investigate the complaint AND keep your name confidential, the Youth Ombudsman may have to decline your request to investigate. You'll be able to discuss this decision with the Youth Ombudsman staff and decide whether you want your complaint investigated or not. If someone does not want their name shared, and they have provided specific and credible information supporting the complaint, the Youth Ombudsman staff may refer the anonymous complaint to the appropriate authorities.

Most communications with the Youth Ombudsman staff may be conducted via virtual meetings and/or phone calls. This allows the Youth Ombudsman staff to serve more youth across the State of Ohio. However, there may be instances when the Youth Ombudsman staff ask to speak with you in person. If you prefer an in-person meeting, please discuss this with the Youth Ombudsman staff.

  • We cannot provide legal advice.
  • We cannot investigate claims of abuse or neglect (in Ohio, only public children services agencies and peace officers have this authority).
  • We cannot investigate complaints against attorneys, judges, guardians ad litem or magistrates.
  • We cannot change court-ordered decisions.
  • We cannot respond to emergencies.

You can contact the Youth Ombudsman via the Contact Us Form or at 1-877-OH-YOUTH (1-877-649-6884). Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm (except holidays).

If you need to make a complaint to the Youth Ombudsman, please use the Youth Complaint form. You have the right to express your complaints and voice your concerns. Services are free of charge.

Click below to send a complaint to the Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office or call:
1-877-649-6884 or 1-877-OH-YOUTH