Welcome to the Office of Children's Ombudsman
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 Health and Human Services or its private contracted agencies.
June is National Safety Month. Safety plays an important role in Child Welfare. A parent's number one priority is providing a safe home environment for their children. A child's home environment should be safe and free of any hazards that could put them at risk of harm. Here are some ways to keep your home safe for your children:
- Keep medications locked and secured in a lockbox that children, no matter the age, do not have access to.
- Keep guns locked in a secured lock box or gun cabinet with the ammunition locked in a separate container.
- Keep cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent pods, out of reach of young children.
- Ensure young children are supervised during bath time or while in pools. Also ensure that above ground and underground poools are kept gated/fenced and locked.
- Keep the home maintained, free of clutter and free of choking hazards.
- Regularly check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.
- Follow Safe Sleep practices. A baby under the age of one should always be placed alone on their back to sleep in a crib or bassinet. The sleeping environment should always be kept free of loose objects including crib bumpers, pillows, blankets, toys, clothing, etc. Co-sleeping with adults and/or children can result in unncessary death.Car seats, swings, rock n plays and other infant bouncers are not considered a safe sleeping environment.
- Follow state car seat laws and recommendations. Ensure that a child is in an appropriate seat for their age and weight, and that the seat is appropriately installed in the car. Also be sure to not leave a child unattended in the car, especially during warm summer months.
- Appropriate supervision also plays an important role in ensure children are safe. Keeping an eye on your kids can help prevent unnecessary injury or death.
These are just a few things that can help make your home safer for your children and can help prevent unncessary, accidental injuries and deaths. For more information on what you can do for your home, visit The National Safety Council's website: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/child-safety
What does the OCO Do?
The OCO independently investigates complaints about children involved with Children’s Protective Services, Foster Care, Adoption Services and Juvenile Justice. The OCO will review cases and determine if an action or decision was made according to laws, rules and policies governing the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and private child placing-agencies.
The OCO will take all necessary action, including legal action, to protect the rights and welfare of a child.
The OCO conducts investigations regarding child death cases when there was an active CPS investigation, open services case, a rejected CPS complaint, open foster care case or closed foster care case in the previous two years. The OCO also must investigate any death of a foster child, unless the death resulted from natural causes and there were no prior CPS or licensing complaints concerning the foster home.
The OCO makes recommendations to the Governor, Legislature and the DHHS Director to improve the child welfare system. The OCO provides education to the public about the child welfare laws and policies.
What Should I Do Before Calling?
Prior to calling the OCO, try to resolve the problem by contacting DHHS or the child-placing agency handling the case. Many times, this can resolve the issue. It is helpful to have all the relevant information ready prior to calling and to write down the problem and any questions you have. If the problem cannot be resolved with the caseworker, go up the chain of command from there to the worker’s supervisor, program manager and agency director. Keep notes and records of who you spoke to with dates, times and phone numbers along with what was said during the conversation. Make sure to read all information that is sent to you as there are often rules and deadlines that must be followed.
The OCO has no legal authority to investigate complaints that exclusively involve:
· Friend of the Court issues (custody, parenting time, child support)
· School problems
· Law enforcement
· Court orders
· Adult Protective Services
· Individuals making false CPS complaints
- 8 Things All Kids In Foster Care Want People To Know
- Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
Studies suggest up to 10 million children are exposed to some form of domestic violence each year. This includes children seeing, hearing or observing the effects (bruises, broken bones, abrasions, etc.) of domestic violence.
- Access to CPS Information
CPS records are confidential, but certain individuals may obtain copies of CPS case files upon request.