What does the OCO Do?
When a complaint is filed with the Office of Children's Ombudsman (OCO), the Ombudsman's staff can conduct an investigation into Children's Protective Services (CPS), Foster Care, Adoption Services and/or Juvenile Justice when children are involved with these programs.
All complaints go through a preliminary investigation process where the Ombudsman determines if a full investigation is warranted and if so, an independent investigation into the complaint is conducted.
The OCO also 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 casues and there were no prior CPS or licensing complaints concerning the foster home.
After an investigation is completed, the Ombudsman may present any relevant recommendations to the Govenor, Legislature and the MDHHS Director if the Ombudsman believes that the results will improve Michigan's child welfare system.
The OCO is also here to provide information for families involved in Michigan's child welfare system. The OCO intake staff can provide insight on the system's processes and connect a caller with the appropriate resource.
What Should I Do Before Calling?
Try to resolve the matter with MDHHS or the child-placing agency handling your case by starting with the caseworker. If that does not resolve matters, contact the worker's supervisor, program manager or agency director. If you haven't attempted this, the OCO will direct you to do so. Please understand that MDHHS is prohibited by law from talking about cases in some instances. Be prepared and have all relevant information ready. Keep notes of who you talked to and when. You may be asked to provide these upon filing a complaint with the OCO.
The OCO has no legal authority to investigate complaints that exclusively involve:
- Employee issues (rude behavior, poor communication)
- Complaints against a court, Judges, attorneys and law enforcement agencies
- Friend of the Court issues (custody, parenting time, child support)
- School problems
- Court orders
- Adult Protective Services
- Individuals making false CPS complaints