Guidelines for filing a complaint
The Washington State Office of the Family and Children's Ombuds investigates complaints about a Washington State agency action or failure to act in cases involving:
- Any child at risk of abuse, neglect, or other harm.
- A child or family involved with child protection or child welfare services.
To begin an investigation fill out the Complaint Form. If you believe an agency has placed a child or parent at risk of imminent harm especially if a child's safety is involved-don't wait. Call our office and ask for immediate help.
We will contact you by phone or letter within 15 working days of receiving your complaint. The Ombuds will review agency records and interview others as necessary.
When the investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by an Ombuds team that includes social workers and attorneys.
Examples of complaints we investigate:
Two toddlers often wander unsupervised in an apartment complex. A neighbor worries about their safety and calls Child Protective Services (CPS). Day after day, the toddlers continue to wander unattended. After several more calls to CPS and no response, the neighbor finally calls the Ombuds.
CPS removes three children from their home and places them in foster care. Within a month, the parents provide CPS with the names of several relatives who they would like to be considered for placement of the children. Six months later, the children remain in foster care and the agency informs the parents that home studies on the relatives have not yet been completed. The parents call the Ombuds.
We will take further action if your complaint meets these criteria:
- The alleged act or failure to act did occur,
- It violated law, policy or procedure or it was clearly unreasonable, and
- It was harmful to a child's safety, health, well-being, or right to a permanent family. Or-it was harmful to appropriate family preservation, contact, or reunification.
If your complaint does not meet these criteria, we will refer you to an agency that can help.