Helping children and youth in foster
care
get the care, placement, and
services
they need.

Important Announcements

Meet the New Foster Care Ombudsperson!

The California Department of Social Services is pleased to announce Lawrence (Larry) Fluharty as the new Ombudsperson in the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson.  Larry will start his new role on Monday, September 27th.
 
Larry Fluharty (he/him) has been an attorney for over 25 years, practicing primarily in the area of juvenile dependency law.  He has represented children and parents in juvenile courts in four different counties, ranging from Los Angeles to Placer, and on appeals within the Second, Third and Fifth District Courts of Appeal in California.  For the past four years, he has been working with Children’s Legal Services of San Diego, both in court and as part of their management team.  
 
From his experience with multiple counties of varying sizes, Larry brings to the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson extensive knowledge of the issues facing foster youth and child welfare services agencies. In his career, he has been a champion for children’s rights, working to ensure they are placed in the least restrictive setting, maintaining contact with their family and community.  He is excited to take on the new challenges the position of California’s Foster Care Ombudsperson offers.

Free Mattresses for Foster Youth

Mattress Firm is offering special pricing for foster youth and foster families that need mattresses! Interested in ordering? Contact Johanna Seiber from the Mattress Firm Commercial Division.

JOHANNA SEIBER
Phone: 346-718-5618
Email: Johanna.Seiber@MFRM.com

Are you a first time iFoster phone user? Apply for an free cell phone!

If this is your first time applying for an iFoster phone, click the link below to apply!

Do you already have an iFoster phone? Apply to get an upgrade to T-Mobile!

If you already have an iFoster phone and still need an update, click the link below to apply!

Tablets for Foster Youth and KinGap Youth

Are you a current or former foster youth or KinGap youth? Are you 13-26 years old and enrolled in a CA K-12 school? Do you need a smartphone or tablet? Apply below!

Laptops for Foster Youth

Are you a current or former foster youth? Are you under the age of 27 and enrolled in a post-secondary education program? Do you need a smartphone or tablet? Apply below!

Foster Youth Bill of Rights 20th Anniversary Celebration

Celebration Video

On May 27th, the Child and Family Policy Institute of California assisted the California Department of Social Services Office of the Ombudsperson in producing a virtual celebration in honor of the 20th anniversary of California’s Foster Youth Bill of Rights. This special event featured speakers from current and former Ombudspersons and leaders, reflective panel discussions and informative stakeholder breakout sessions.

We are appreciative of everyone who was involved in putting on this celebration, and to all the participants from across the state to joined us to commemorate 20 years of the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. If you are interested, we have posted a video recording of the event, and all the resources shared during the breakout sessions below.

Request Foster Youth Rights Publications

We provide free Foster Youth Bill of Rights publications to foster youth, county child welfare and probation offices, and more.

File a Youth or General Complaint

We solve problems and complaints about foster youth rights violations and the care, placement, and services of youth in foster care.

Request a Verification Letter

We provide former foster youth in California with Dependency Letters (also called Verification Letters or Ward of the Court
Letters).

Request an OFCO Training

We provide trainings on the services provided by our office, the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, and the reasonable and prudent parent standards.

Foster Youth Bill of Rights

All California youth who are in foster care have rights! These rights also apply to youth that are on probation and live in an out-of-home placement, like aSTRTP, group home, or foster home, as well as children living in any licensed or certified children’s facility or home in California. 

The Foster Youth Bill of Rights has over 40 rights that were created to protect children and youth in foster care! 

If you want to learn more about the Foster Youth Bill of Rights or you are concerned about the rights of a foster childyou can call our office at 877-846-1602. You can also file a complaint online. 

Personal Rights Icon        ICWA Youth Icon        Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Icon        Education Icon        Sexual and Reproductive Health Icon        Mental Health Icon

Health Icon                Case Plan Icon                        Preparing for Adulthood and Money Management Icon

Get empowered, know the Foster Youth Bill of Rights!

Click each icon to learn about your rights.

What We Do

The Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson is a neutral and independent office that helps solve problems and complaints about the care, placement, and services of children and youth in foster care.  We help foster youth, social workers, probation officers, resource families and advocates understand the rights of children and youth in foster careWe also help by making policy recommendations to improve the foster care system. If you are concerned about the rights of a child in foster care, or issues related to their care, placement, or services, we may be able to help! 

The OFCO provides former foster youth in California with Dependency Letters (also called Verification Letters or Ward of the Court Letters). If you are a former foster youth, click here to request a letter 

The OFCO provides trainings on the services provided by our office, the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, and the reasonable and prudent parent standards.  Click here to request a training.  

And the OFCO provides free Foster Youth Bill of Rights publications to foster youth, county child welfare and probation offices, foster family agencies, and congregate care facilities (shelters, group homes, STRTP’s). Click here to order publications.

A pair of orange hands hold up back-to-back blue figures that carry scales. The words “California Foster Care Ombudsperson” are at the top.
Image of a man with a question mark bubble
Who can contact the Ombudsperson's office?

Our office was created to serve foster youth. Foster youth calls are our first priority. Anyone who is concerned about the care, placement, services or rights of a child or youth in foster care can contact our office.

What can I contact the Ombudsperson's office about?

You can contact us about issues related to  foster youth rights, care, placement, and services. You can also contact us if you need help finding resources or if you are a former foster youth who needs a verification letter (sometimes called a dependency letter or ward of the court letter). We can also answer your questions about foster care.

Is my call to the Ombudsperson's office confidential?

We have a confidentiality policy to protect the identity of people who call to make a complaint. The law allows us to release certain information to certain people in the process of conducting our duties; however, if we need to share this information we will tell you. 

If there is an immediate safety issue, we may also make a report to the appropriate agencies such as the county’s Child Protective Services agency or the Community Care Licensing Division. If this happens, we will discuss this with you.

What happens after I contact the Ombudsperson's office?

Foster youth complaints are our first priority. If a youth calls to file a complaint, we will process it within one business day. Any person can file complaints on behalf of a child in foster care, as long as the concern is about the rights, care, placement, or services of the foster child. We review each case to determine if it needs further investigation. Some complaints may be referred to other places for resolution. 

If we choose to investigate your complaint, we will notify of our decision to investigate, we will offer periodic updates, and we will notify you of the closure of the complaint. All complaints made to the office may include a review of records, contact with relevant agencies, and/or interviewing certain people  

What is outside the role of the Ombudsperson's office?

We cannot change court orders. 

We cannot fire or change social workers.  

We cannot investigate claims of child abuse or neglect.  

We cannot investigate complaints about judges, attorneys, or law enforcement 

We cannot provide legal advice. 

We cannot investigate issues related to child custody, child support, and family court.  

*The OFCO is not an emergency intervention service. If you have immediate concerns about the safety of a child, call your county Child Protection Services or local law enforcement. 

 

Logo of the California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson

The California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson is dedicated to serving
foster youth in California by investigating and resolving complaints
about foster youth rights, care, placement, and services.

Telephone Icon     1-877-846-1602

Email Icon     fosteryouthhelp@dss.ca.gov

Internet Icon     www.fosteryouthhelp.ca.gov


The law that governs the OFCO is Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 16164.

 

 

 

 

Home

Foster Youth Rights

Contact Us

 

   Facebook Icon      Instagram Icon     Twitter Icon

Tooltip Text