The Governor's Advocacy Office includes: Department of Human Services Ombudsmen, the Children's Ombudsman, and the DHS Client Complaint or Report of Discrimination process.
The Governor's Advocacy Office at the Department of Human Services (DHS) is part of the department's director's office and serves as follows:
- DHS Ombudsman program for the department's cash, food, employment, family services, aging and disability medical programs, disability assistance and support services for families, adults and children. This includes adult protective services for vulnerable adults and long term care service issues that fall outside the scope of resident rights in community and nursing care settings
- The Oregon Children's Ombudsman program which specifically responds to concerns regarding child abuse and neglect, child protective services, and issues relevant to individual child welfare cases or general program practices
- The Foster Care Ombudsman has a 1-800 number available to any minor child in foster care or a residential setting to contact for help, to report abuse or to file a grievance
- Centralized screening, coordination, oversight and tracking of the DHS Client Complaint and Report of Discrimination process, including civil rights investigation
The Governor's Advocacy Office serves thousands of individuals and families throughout Oregon every year. Anyone experiencing a problem with, or seeking information about programs or services provided by DHS may receive help and direction from the Governor's Advocacy Office's ombudsmen.
What GAO Does
The ombudsman program will objectively evaluate and work to resolve issues and concerns presented by individuals who contact GAO. These concerns include, but are not limited to child abuse and neglect, adult and elder abuse or neglect, access to DHS public assistance programs, customer service matters, resources for individual and family support services or treatment programs, including services for individuals with physical, mental or developmental disabilities.
Role of Governor's Advocate/Ombudsman:
- Respond to customer concerns or complaints
- Investigate and research issues or grievances to determine whether program staff are in compliance with DHS policies and procedures
- Track and identify systemic trends or training needs; recommend modifications to policy and procedures when findings determine that an existing policy has an unintended or adverse impact on clients
- Communicate on behalf of individuals who perceive inequities or inconsistencies within the DHS systems
- Provide appropriate, timely and quality services to customers; assist with information and access to DHS programs and services
- Reinforce the intentions that drive program integrity; GAO is one component of accountability for all DHS programs
- Guidance on navigating within the DHS organization; including client rights and due processes
- GAO jurisdiction is only over DHS/OHA programs and services.
- GAO must adhere to Oregon statutes, administrative rules, department and program policies without exception.
- GAO cannot overturn final orders on administrative hearings or court decisions.
How to make contact with the Children's Ombudsman, the Foster Care Ombudsman or other DHS Ombudsman:
Governor's Advocacy Office, DHS Ombudsmen, Children's Ombudsman
Phone: (503) 945-6904
TTY number: 711
Foster Care Hotline: 1-855-840-6036.
GAO email: email@example.com
GAO Fax number: (503) 378-6532.
Client Civil Rights and Formal Complaints
What to do if you want to file a customer service complaint or report of unfair treatment:
Any DHS client or customer who believes they received poor customer service or were treated in a discriminatory manner may file a formal complaint with the agency. The DHS Client Complaint and Report of Discrimination process offers a complaint form (DHS 0170) that you can complete. You may either send it directly to the GAO or to your local DHS service office. GAO coordinates and manages this complaint process. When a report of discrimination is received, GAO will either independently investigate the matter or refer the case to the appropriate government authority for investigation.
Administrator and Children’s Ombudsman: Naomi Steenson Ombudsman
Generalist: Alma Amador, Nate Hotrum, Martha Gaugh, Joshua Miller, Mike Hansen, Jason Wenig
Foster Care Ombudsman: Darin Mancuso
Civil Rights, ADA and Formal Complaint Coordinator: Lori Nelson
Intake and Administrative Support: Wendy Russell