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.
complaints from any youth involved in the children services system via an online
Youth Complaint form or by calling 1-877-OH-YOUTH.
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
- 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
- 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.