August 28, 2017

Department of Child Services Ombudsman Bureau: What is it?

Written By

Raymond P. Dudlo
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC

In 2009, the Indiana legislature created an Ombudsman Bureau for the Department of Child Services (DCS). The mission of the Ombudsman Bureau is to respond to complaints concerning DCS’s actions or omissions. In essence, the Ombudsman Bureau investigates complaints about DCS. The purpose of those investigations is to ultimately improve DCS and to promote public confidence in that agency.

Many people are unaware of the Ombudsman Bureau’s existence and how to contact them. For instance, in 2013, the Ombudsman Bureau of DCS opened a total of 210 cases for the entire state. The Ombudsman Bureau is not part of DCS, but is instead a separate entity of the State of Indiana, particularly the Indiana Department of Administration. This allows the Ombudsman to investigate complaints regarding DCS independently.

Complaints to the Ombudsman must be submitted in writing to their office in Indianapolis. A complaint form is provided online, and a link to the Ombudsman Bureau’s website is found below. Before submitting a complaint to the Ombudsman Bureau, you are required to try to resolve your issue at the local level, meaning through your local DCS office. Each county in Indiana has a local DCS office, which is in charge of investigating abuse and neglect for children in their county and to manage those cases they have concerning children within their county. Each case or investigation is headed by a family case manager (FCM). That FCM has a supervisor. Each local office contains a director, who manages and oversees the Supervisors and FCM’s in their office. If you have a complaint or concern that should be addressed, you should try to resolve the issue by first contacting the FCM, their supervisor and their director if necessary.

If you feel that an issue still remains, then the Ombudsman may be able to provide help.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Ombudsman Bureau is to improve DCS. Therefore, if you know of a situation, case or investigation that you believed was handled inappropriately, by submitting a complaint you can help improve and even change DCS’s policy statewide.

Here is a link to the DCS’s Ombudsman Bureau’s website:


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