Testimony: The Child Safety and Well-Being Ombudsperson Establishment Act of 2019

October 28, 2019

For more than 20 years, we have worked with DC’s Child Family Services Agency. As recently as this year, we have voiced our many concerns regarding CFSA’s individual child and family level practices and about systemic issues that we believe are negatively impacting DC children involved with the child welfare system. Because of this, Executive Director Judith Sandalow voiced our strong support for the Child Safety and Well-Being Ombudsperson Establishment Act of 2019.

Given the extremely sensitive and personal nature of CFSA’s mission, a high degree of confidentiality is properly built into the very structure of the agency. Beyond these natural barriers inherent in CFSA’s work, the agency has developed a culture of intentional opacity.

Judith pointed to the independent, external Ombudsperson envisioned by the Act as the proper mechanism to ensure that families, the public, the Council, and advocates like Children’s Law Center have continued access to macro-level information about CFSA policies and practices. The Ombudsperson will also increase transparency with respect to case-level information and improve CFSA engagement with families and advocates so that children and families will not require court hearings to resolve issues.

Read Judith's full testimony here: