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Juvenile Welfare Office of the Ombuds

Published on: 10/12/2017 1:45 PM

For program information, please contact:

Ombuds Intake Line: (408) 993-4114

Please Note: All emails, written documents, and phone messages submitted to The Juvenile Welfare Office of the Ombuds (JWOO) may be subject to a Public Records request pursuant the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56). If you wish your communications with the JWOO to be confidential, please request an in-person meeting at (408) 993-4114
Brohne Lawhorne, JD, Interim Director, Office of Human Relations
Katja De Groot, JD, Ombuds Program Coordinator
Karen Brajenovich, MA, MA, Associate Ombudsman
Who the Ombuds Serves
The Juvenile Welfare Ombuds serves all individuals with concerns connected to a Santa Clara County Department of Family & Children’s Services case including: birth parents, children, relatives, foster parents, caregivers, social workers, system partners, and members of the community.
The Ombuds Can Help…
  • Listen to and discuss concerns relating to the child, the case plan, DFCS, or the Juvenile Welfare System
  • Obtain useful information and rationale regarding decisions
  • Facilitate communication between parties
  • Brainstorm possible solutions
  • Negotiate to resolve disputes between foster care providers, families, DFCS, and others
  • Escalate awareness of concerns
  • Bridge misunderstandings
  • Recommend ways to resolve the current situation and avoid current discord
  • Strategize with DFCS about creating best practices and policies
  • Refer complainants to appropriate agencies and decision makers
 Typical Ombuds Concerns
  • Child Safety, Abuse, or Neglect
  • Communication Breakdowns & Conflict
  • Understanding Juvenile Dependency
  • Delays, Disrespect, or Unprofessionalism
  • Child Removal
  • Placement
  • Case Plans & Legal Processes
  • Visitation
  • Juvenile Dependency System Services, Resources & Payments
  • Culture and Language Barriers
  • Difficult or Sensitive Social Worker / Client Communications
  • Family Reunification Issues
  • Guardianship & Adoption
  • Dependent & Former Foster Youth Issues
  • Identification of Systemic Issues

 Non Ombuds Concerns

The Ombuds does not advocate nor take sides in a complaint. We must consider all sides in an impartial and objective way by advocating for fair practices. It’s the Ombuds’ job to help to develop mutual solutions to complex and difficult problems. The Ombuds Does Not:
  • Make decisions for you
  • Act as your legal counsel
  • Advocate on your personal behalf
  • Involve itself in matters set for trial
  • Serve as an office of legal notice