Office of the Child Advocate

* CLICK HERE to FILE A COMPLAINT *

The Office of the Child Advocate was established in 2018 as part of an aggressive commitment to reform New Hampshire’s child welfare system. They are an independent and impartial state office established to oversee the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

There are times when DCYF is involved in the lives of children and families. It is the Child Advocate’s responsibility to make sure that the State of New Hampshire does the best job possible in caring for and protecting children.

Mission of the Office of the Child Advocate

 

The mission of the Office of the Child Advocate is to provide independent and impartial oversight of the New Hampshire child welfare and juvenile justice systems to promote effective reforms that meet the best interests of children.

 

To achieve this they:

  • Listen to all concerns about DCYF

  • Respond to complaints with a credible review process

  • Respect the importance of every person in a child's life

  • Build collaborative relationships for reform

  • Promote practices that are proven to be effective to help children and families

  • Maintain independence and impartiality of all aspects of our oversight of DCYF

Turning complaints into building blocks for better child welfare & juvenile justice systems by:

  • Educating policymakers and the public on what children need and best practices

  • Promoting responsive public policy for child welfare

  • Ensure that DCYF has the resources to effectively do the best for New Hampshire's children

Office of the Child Advocate NH, DCYF, foster care complaints

How does the Child Advocate help?

 

The Office of the Child Advocate investigates complaints about DCYF for:

  • Children under protective supervision

  • Children in foster care or institutional settings

  • Children involved with juvenile justice

  • Children in need of services

Do they take complaints about a child’s treatment by DCYF?

  • Yes, the Office of the Child Advocate receives complaints about a child or children who are in, were in, or were screened out of the care, supervision, custody, or control of DCYF. Complaints can be submitted by phone, on their website (coming soon), in writing, or in person.

  • Before submitting a complaint, you must exhaust all reasonable remedies within the DCYF and DHHS system, including contacting caseworkers, supervisors, directors, and the DHHS Ombudsman.

  • If you would like to submit a complaint, please provide as much information as possible. Click HERE to view the type of information you should include with your complaint.

  • Please note that the Office of the Child Advocate cannot change a judge's decision or override a court order. 

History of the Office of the Child Advocate 

In 2017, the New Hampshire legislature enacted RSA 170–G:18, which established the Office of the Child advocate to oversee the state's child welfare, child protection and juvenile justice agency and to assure that the best interests of children are protected.

The full text of RSA 170–G:18 can be found on the New Hampshire General Court website. In 2018, SB 479 was passed to amend RSA 170–G:18, expanding accessibility of the OCA office, ensuring confidentiality of people who contact them, and allowing them to be more effective in their mandate. The Department of Health and Human Services, through their Ombudsman Office, is still required to handle case specific complaints.

Director of the NH Office of the Child Advocate

Moira (pronounced Moy-rah) O'Neill is the first director and was appointed by Governor Christopher Sununu in January 2018. Click HERE to learn more about Director O'Neill and her staff.

General Disclaimer: Thank you for visiting the FOSTERING CHANGE: Alliance for NH Foster Parents website. The information on this site is for personal and educational purposes only. Our organization disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from the usage or the content of our website or any suggestions from an Alliance representative. Please be sure to double check any referenced laws, rules or regulations as they may have been revised or eliminated. The Child Protection Act RSA 169-C mandates that any person who has reason to suspect that a child is being  abused, neglected, maltreated or exploited must make a report to the proper authorities.  All citizens in the state of NH are mandated as reporters for 169-C , therefore let it be known that  any information that is shared with an Alliance representative, which must be reported within the context of the law in accordance with 169-C, will be reported. If you know a child at risk, please call 9-1-1 and/or the DCYF Central Intake Hotline immediately at: 1-800-894-5533. 

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