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Improving Child Welfare through a Children’s Ombudsman

By: Richard S Bearup, Vincent J Palusci

Objective: This report examines the changes in a child welfare system created by establishing an ombudsman’s office to investigate complaints regarding children in the foster care, adoption, and child protection systems.

Method: Serving as a complaint office, the Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman investigated 443 cases involving 820 children during its first 18 months of operation. Information was collected regarding the nature of abuse and system concerns identified in child protective services, foster care, or adoption agencies from across our state. Information was also collected regarding changes in agency practices or procedures or legislation resulting from case investigation.

Results: The Children’s Ombudsman in Michigan identified 209 cases in which “administrative acts” of child protective services, foster care, or adoption agencies led to real or potential harm to children. Through investigation of these complaints, a number of areas of concern in the child welfare system were identified, resulting in changes in case management, investigation, or service provision.

Conclusions: A children’s ombudsman can improve the child welfare system through complaint investigation and identification of system-wide deficiencies on a state-wide level.

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Uploaded on: Jun 13, 2017
Last Updated: Jun 14, 2017
Year Published: 1999
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