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Office advocating change in Virginia's child welfare system officially launches

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Posted at 3:19 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 15:19:30-04

RICHMOND, Va. - An office geared towards improving Virginia's foster care system and advocating changes in the child welfare system has officially launched in the Commonwealth.

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Tuesday the official launch of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.

The office advocates for systemic changes in Virginia’s child welfare system and is authorized to receive complaints from the public regarding the actions or decisions of departments of social services in cases involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected and children who are in foster care.

“I am pleased that we are officially launching the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman, which will play a critical role in improving Virginia’s foster care system, facilitate complaints, and advocate for changes to the child welfare system. My administration is committed to serving the next generation of Virginia’s children,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 to change child welfare policy, procedure, and legislation and to review actions of departments of social services in cases involving children receiving child protective services or who are in foster care.

"I am excited that, after several months of preparation and with the support of the Administration and our partner agencies, information about the Office of the Children's Ombudsman and the services we provide will finally be made publicly available to Virginians across the Commonwealth. My staff and I are looking forward to helping families navigate the child welfare system and ensuring that child safety and family preservation remain top priorities for our local and state agencies that serve Virginia's children and families," said the Director of OCO, Eric Reynolds.

The office has the ability to investigate complaints alleging that agency actions violated laws or policies or were imposed without a stated reason or based on irrelevant or erroneous information.

The official OCO website can be found here. Complaints can be submitted by email to complaints@oco.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 225-4801.