TCCY Ombudsman for Children and Families

An ombudsman is a person whose job is to work out problems between people and government.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’s (TCCY) Ombudsman Program is an external, third-party problem resolution mechanism for children in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Child Protective Services (CPS), kinship care/relative caregiver program, and DCS foster parent issues. TCCY has statutory authority to review children in the foster care system, kinship care or CPS and make recommendations for improvement.

TCCY is an independent state agency that works closely with DCS but is not a part of department. The Ombudsman Program has a mandate to investigate or conduct case file reviews but does not have an enforcement power. Most public sector or government ombudsman offices function in this manner and have the same program limitation. If necessary, written and/or verbal recommendations are provided. Transparency, fairness, accountability, timeliness and best practice are features safeguarded by the Ombudsman Program.

The TCCY ombudsman takes referrals from children, families, legislators, national organizations, child advocates, attorneys, school personnel, juvenile courts, DCS workers, service providers and other stakeholders or concerned individuals. The ombudsman can access records and interview children, families and state and private agency staff, in order to help resolve problems.

Established in 1996, the TCCY Ombudsman Program adheres to United States Ombudsman Association standards, including a credible review process, confidentiality, impartiality and independence.

The ombudsman helps to address problems through a mediation approach focusing on issues, concerns or complaints of individuals. The Ombudsman may serve as an advocate for the family, the state, or the provider when appropriate, but is always working for the child's best interests. The TCCY Ombudsman Office accepts referrals from all over the state.

Ombudsman Program reports are available.

The Ombudsman’s Guide to Fairness

Gerald Papica, Ed.D., TCCY's senior ombudsman, authored this guide for the Spring 2011 edition of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association.

When Should You Contact the Ombudsman?

You should call the ombudsman when you believe the action, inaction, or decision of DCS, service providers and/or caregivers of out-of-home care (including TennCare providers, schools, residential and non-residential care facilities, foster care, detention facilities, public agencies, and social services agencies operated by either the state or one of its contractors) has adversely affected the health, safety, welfare, or rights of children and youth in state custody, or their families.

The ombudsman program is a service of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

How Can You Contact the Ombudsman?

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) Ombudsman is available from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Central Time) Monday through Friday to receive questions and concerns.

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National Training Opportunity

United States Ombudsman Association conference: USOA Conference

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