Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday announced the launch of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman, which will advocate for changes in the state’s child welfare system and receive complaints from the public regarding social services.

The office was established in 2020 by the Virginia General Assembly to create changes in “child welfare policy, procedure, and legislation and reviewing actions of departments of social services in cases involving children receiving child protective services or who are in foster care,” according to a press release from Youngkin’s office.

The office was created in response to a recommendation from the 2018 report, “Improving Virginia’s Foster Care System.”

“I am pleased that we are officially launching the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman, which will play a critical role in improving Virginia’s foster care system, facilitate complaints, and advocate for changes to the child welfare system,” Youngkin said in a statement.

The OCO director, Eric Reynolds, expressed excitement over the agency’s launch.

“My staff and I are looking forward to helping families navigate the child welfare system and ensuring that child safety and family preservation remain top priorities for our local and state agencies that serve Virginia’s children and families,” he said.

The newly-established agency will work closely with the Virginia Department of Social Services to assist the local welfare offices. The OCO will also investigate complaints about law or policy violations within the welfare system.

“My administration is committed to serving the next generation of Virginia’s children,” the governor stressed.

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