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Gov. Snyder names Orlene Christie Hawks as director of the Office of Children's Ombudsman

Christie Hawks is an advocate for Michigan’s children with oversight, legislative experience

Friday, June 13, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed Orlene Christie Hawks of Okemos, who has worked for years with healthcare, child and family issues, to be the new director of the Office of Children’s Ombudsman.

The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman was created in 1994 to bring greater accountability to Michigan’s child welfare system. The office is an independent state agency formed to receive and investigate complaints concerning children who for reasons of abuse or neglect are under the supervision of the Department of Human Services or its private contracted agencies.

The OCO makes recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, and the DHS for changes in child welfare laws, rules, and policies to improve outcomes for children.

“Improving the quality of life for Michigan’s children is a priority,” Snyder said. “Orlene has experience working with vital programs assisting families and children as well as state government. I know she’ll be a passionate, tireless advocate for our families, making sure they get the assistance they need.”

Christie Hawks since 2010 has managed the Quality and Program Services section in the Michigan Department of Community Health, working with the Children’s Special Health Care Services Local Advisory Council.

She previously managed the Child, Adolescent and Family Health Services section and directed the Office of Statutory and Legislative Compliance. She also served as the Department of Community Health’s legislative liaison, overseeing a statewide legislative agenda affecting the agency’s Public Health, Medical Services Administration, Office of Services to the Aging and Mental Health divisions.

Christie Hawks replaces Verlie Ruffin in the position. Charlotte J. Smith, the office’s supervisor and intake investigator, has served as interim director.