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Library: Policy

340:2-3-56. Foster Care Ombudsman (FCO) services

Revised 9-15-21

(a) Legal authority.

(1) Section 1-9-112(D)(1) of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-9-112(D)(1)) requires the Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) investigate any complaint received by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) Office of Juvenile System Oversight (OJSO)  alleging that an Oklahoma  Human Services  (OKDHS) or child-placing agency employee threatened a foster parent with removal of a child from the foster parent, harassed a foster parent, refused to place a child in a licensed or certified foster home, or disrupted a child placement as retaliation or discrimination toward a foster parent who engaged in a protected activity.

(2) 10A O.S. § 1-9-120 requires OCA establish grievance procedures for foster parents with whom OKDHS or child-placing agencies contract.

(3) 10A O.S. § 1-9-120 (C) requires OCA to designate one employee to receive and process foster parent grievances.  OCA designated the FCO.  OCA conferred the FCO with responsibility for fulfilling the duties set forth in (e) of this Section.

(b) Scope.

(1) The FCO provides services relating to complaints brought by foster parents` against OKDHS or child-placing.

(2) This Section shall not be construed to include any complaint by the foster parent resulting from an administrative, civil, or criminal action taken by the employee or child-placing agency for violations of law or rules, or contract provisions by the foster parent, per 10A O.S. 1-9-120(E)(3).

(c) Definitions.  The definitions used in this Section are located in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:2-3-2, 340:2-3-45, and 340:2-3-50.

(d) Confidentiality.  Information in OCA records relating to complaints filed with the FCO by foster parents is confidential and protected from unauthorized use.  Only authorized individuals are given access to case records or provided information from these records.  A breach of confidentiality may result in criminal prosecution.  Violations by OKDHS employees can also result in personnel action.  The relevant confidentiality provisions are located at 10A O.S. § 1-6-107 and OAC 340:75-1-42.

(e) Duties.  The FCO is responsible for:

(1) overseeing and resolving grievances between foster parents and state agencies or child- placing agencies, per OAC 340:2-3-50;

(2) referring complaints meeting the criteria for retaliation, per 10A O.S. § 1-9-112(D)(1) to the OCA Investigative Unit, per OAC 340:2-3-38;

(3) referring cases for mediation, when appropriate, per OAC 340:2-3-50(g);

(4) collecting and maintaining data necessary to identify systemic issues that may be addressed and resolved to improve the foster care system.  In partnership with OCCY, prepares an annual report for the legislature based on collected data and makes recommendations as appropriate for improvements of procedures and policies to benefit children and families;  • 1

(5) conducting training, education, and outreach activities for the benefit of those involved in, or potentially involved in foster care, and maintaining personal accessibility in order to address questions and concerns;

(6) providing resources and referrals to interested parties; and

(7) collaborating with foster parents, CWS, Developmental Disabilities Services, and OCCY OJSO in efforts to improve the foster care system.

(f) Initial disposition of the complaint. Upon receipt, the FCO or designee must examine the complaint to determine if it meets the criteria for a grievance, retaliation, harassment, discrimination investigation or if another disposition is appropriate.  Foster parents may file grievances with respect to the provision or receipt of services.  • 2

(1) Grievable issues. Except for the limitations listed in OAC 340:2-3-50(h), matters that can be the subject of a grievance include:

(A) the substance or application of any policy or rule of OKDHS or its agents; or

(B) any decision or action by an OKDHS employee or its agents; or

(C) a violation by an OKDHS or a child-placing agency employee of the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, per 10A O.S. § 1-9-119.

(2) Non-grievable issues and intra-agency referrals.  When the FCO or designee determines the complaint is not grievable, and does not present an issue of retaliation, harassment, or discrimination suitable for investigation, the FCO or designee determines if an intra-agency referral is appropriate, makes any necessary referrals, and closes the file.  Foster parent complaints subject to an intra-agency referral are deemed closed at the time any necessary follow-up is completed.  • 3

(3) When the complaint meets none of the criteria above, but is resolvable through the provision of information readily obtainable by the FCO or designee, the FCO may, at his or her discretion, resolve the complaint by obtaining the necessary information.

(4) Preliminary inquiry. When the information contained in the complaint is insufficient to enable the FCO, to determine appropriate disposition, a preliminary examination may be completed.  • 4


Revised 9-15-21

1. Throughout the process, the Foster Care Ombudsman (FCO) tracks all data collected including, but not limited to, the number of complaints received, the number of complaints resolved, the nature of the complaints, and any other information deemed necessary for Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) Leadership Team quarterly reports and annual legislative report.

2. A foster parent grievance must be filed either online at, by phone at 800-522-8014; or by completing Form 15GR001E, Grievance Form; and turning it in to the local grievance coordinator (LGC) or designee, who completes the online form on the grievant's behalf.

3. (a) Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) Intake staff, in consultation with the FCO or designee, determines if a non-grievable issue is referred to another part of OKDHS for attention, such as the Director's Helpline.

(b) If the complaint presents a grievable issue, the FCO notifies the grievant in writing of this fact and explains, in the same writing, the grievance resolution process.

4. (a) In most cases, the referral process consists of the FCO determining which OKDHS office is best able to address the foster parent's issue and providing the foster parent in writing with contact information for that office.

(b) In cases where referral to the Director's Helpline is appropriate, the FCO forwards the complaint to the Director's Helpline.

(c) When the FCO determines the foster parent's needs are best served by directly forwarding a complaint to another OKDHS office, the FCO may, at his or her discretion, directly forward the complaint.


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