The Ombudsman for Children
The Ombudsman for Children in Ireland is a statutory office established under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002. The main functions of the Office are:
- To promote the rights and welfare of children and young people up to 18 years old
- To investigate complaints made by children or on behalf of children against public bodies, schools and hospitals
Many countries have an Ombudsman for Children. A number of these independent offices for children have been established since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
From 3 April 2017, the Ombudsman can accept complaints about children in Direct Provision.
Who does the Ombudsman for Children represent?
Under the Act, a child is someone under the age of 18 (however, young people under 18 who are members of the Defence Forces are not represented by the Ombudsman).
Which bodies can the Ombudsman for Children investigate?
The Ombudsman for Children can investigate complaints about public bodies providing services or making decisions about children and families, or organisations providing services on behalf of the State. The Ombudsman for Children's Office has developed an unofficial list of the bodies covered (pdf) as a guide.
How can the Ombudsman for Children promote the rights and welfare of children?
The Ombudsman for Children can provide advice to the Government, encourage the development of policies, practices and procedures to promote children's rights and welfare, highlight issues that are of concern to children and monitor and review the operation of legislation insofar as it refers to children. The Ombudsman for Children can also support children and young people to find out about their rights and how they can be protected and realised.
The Ombudsman for Children may investigate on his own initiative or as a result of a complaint by a child, a family member or a professional who has dealings with the child. If a parent is not making the complaint, one parent must be told that a complaint is being made.
Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman you must first use the complaints
and appeals machinery of the body against whom you have a complaint. If you are
not satisfied with the outcome you can then contact the Ombudsman to make your
complaint. The Ombudsman may not investigate complaints where legal proceedings
have already commenced.
How to apply
To make a complaint you should write to the Ombudsman for Children. You should enclose a copy of the letter(s) you sent to the body and give the reasons why you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint. You will be contacted by the Office of the Ombudsman who will discuss your complaint with you.
You can also make a complaint online or download a complaint form.