F O R   Y O U R   I N F O R M A T I O N

ISSUE  00-79

DATE:   12/00


This is to provide CSW staff with information regarding the Office of the California State Ombudsman for Foster Care. The Offices of the Ombudsman for Foster Care are located in both Sacramento and Los Angeles and a toll-free telephone line, 877-846-1602, has been established to receive concerns regarding issues affecting foster youth.

CSWs are required to provide foster children with the toll-free telephone number and verbal or written information regarding the existence and purpose of the Office. Attached to this release are flyers and brochures, one in English and one in Spanish, for distribution to all foster youth and other concerned parties. Please photocopy them until a supply becomes available in your regional supply room.

The Office of the State Ombudsman for Foster Care is mandated to perform three main functions:

  • Disseminate information on the rights of children and youth in foster care and the services provided by the office. The information shall include notification that conversations with the Ombudsman may not be confidential, and that all reports of child abuse will be reported.
  • Investigate and attempt to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of children placed in foster care, related to their care, placement and services. All fact-finding inquiries will be conducted in a neutral and objective manner.
  • Compile and make available to the Legislature all data collected over the course of the year including, but not limited to, the number of contacts to the toll-free telephone number, the number of complaints made, the number of investigations performed by the Office, the number of referrals made, and the number of unresolved complaints.

The Ombudsman and staff are authorized to:

  • Meet or communicate with any foster child in his/her placement or elsewhere.
  • Access any record of a state or local agency that is necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the Office.
  • Investigate any and all complaints received by the Office, and decide whether to investigate a complaint further or refer the complaint to another agency.
  • Report all findings to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and to the Legislature.

The authority of the Ombudsman Program is limited:

  • The Ombudsman does not have the authority to challenge court decisions.
  • The Ombudsman can recommend case reassessments but is not empowered to change case plans.
  • The Ombudsman does not have any authority regarding personnel issues. Complaints regarding discrimination shall be referred to the appropriate Civil Rights Office.

The Ombudsman Program will make every attempt to resolve complaints voluntarily and informally. When complaints are outside the authority of the Ombudsman, appropriate referrals will be made.

(Attachments will be distributed with hard copy)


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CONTACT:    Carrol Blankenship (213) 351-5732

                         Beverly Muench, Deputy Director