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The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) can receive and investigate complaints involving children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected, are receiving child protective services, are in foster care, or are placed for adoption.

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OCO - Child Intro Image

The OCO can:


Review actions, policies, and procedures of child-serving agencies relating to child protective services and foster care and make recommendations for improvement


Effecting changes in policy, procedure, and legislation to improve Virginia’s child welfare system


Provide information and resources for families involved with the child welfare system


An official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities.

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The concept of an ombudsman existed in China going back to about 200 B.C., where the king would designate an undercover official to monitor actions of government officials. The word “ombudsman” is Swedish and generally means “representative” or “proxy” referring to the office’s role in providing oversight over government officials’ actions to address any wrongdoing for the good of the public citizens. Modern use of the term “ombudsman” began in 1809 by Sweden in establishing the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman as an independent agency of the executive branch to ensure that civil servants acted within the laws and within their duties.