The Office of Children's Ombudsman (OCO) was established by the Michigan Legislature in 1994 in an effort to bring greater accountability to Michigan's child welfare system.  The Children's Ombudsman Act (Public Act 204 of 1994 ) established the OCO as an independent state agency with primary responsibility to receive and investigate complaints concerning children who for reasons of abuse or neglect are under the supervision of the Department of Human Services (DHS) or its private contracted agencies.

In addition to addressing citizen complaints, the OCO makes recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Department of Human Services (DHS) for changes in child welfare laws, rules, and policies to improve outcomes for children.

Michigan's Children's Ombudsman is appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Michigan Legislature and is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of investigators. Governor Snyder appointed Orlene Hawks as Children's Ombudsman on June 16, 2014.