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Ombudsman for Children, Youth 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 problem resolution mechanism for children in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), relative caregiver program or Child Protective Servcies (CPS) system. 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 DCS.

The Ombudsman Office takes referrals from children, families, state workers, and private agency staff that involve a concern about a state custody child's or the family's treatment. 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 resolve problems mediating the concerns of each person involved in the child's or family's case. 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.

Data on the program is available at

When Should You Contact the Ombudsman?

You should call the Ombudsman when you believe the action, inaction, or decision of a provider 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.



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. For more information on this topic, see the full edition at