Filing a Complaint

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.
  • The safety or welfare of children in state care.

To begin an investigation, fill out the Complaint Form online. A brief summary of the background and issues is sufficient. Once we receive your complaint, we will contact you to discuss your concerns in more detail and explain our complaint investigation process.

We also accept complaints by mail. To file a complaint by mail, print this form. Our office address is:

Washington State Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds
6840 Fort Dent Way, Suite 125
Tukwila, WA 98188

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 agency action or conduct occurred,
  • It violated law, policy or procedure or was clearly unreasonable, and
  • It was harmful or created a risk of harm to a child, youth or family.

We do not have the authority to investigate concerns regarding:

Court decisions; attorneys; law enforcement; CASA/guardians ad litem; or child welfare agencies outside of Washington State.

If your complaint does not meet our investigation criteria, or is outside our scope of authority we will try to refer you to another resource that can help.