Ombudsperson

Home  >  Ombudsperson

Youth Bill of Rights (YBOR)

The Youth Bill of Rights summarizes the rights of all young people who are confined in a juvenile justice facility in California.

The Office of Youth and Community Restoration (OYCR) Ombudsperson Division will be publishing an age-appropriate, youth- and family-friendly version of the Youth Bill of Rights for posting and distribution to youth in juvenile facilities in California. In the meantime, you can access a temporary document by clicking the button below.

If you think your rights are being violated or you are experiencing harmful conditions, you, your family or friends can file a complaint by calling 1-844-402-1880 or emailing OYCRombuds@chhs.ca.gov.

Overview

What is the OYCR Ombudsperson?

A person whose job it is to help youth in a juvenile justice facility in California solve problems with how they are being treated. The Ombudsperson is an independent problem-solver responsible for investigating complaints and attempting to resolve them for the people involved. Youth in a juvenile justice facility have the right to ask a question or file a complaint with the OYCR Ombudsperson. Anyone can contact the Ombudsperson if they believe that a youth’s rights have been violated or ignored or are concerned about the condition of the facility the youth is in. The youth cannot be punished or threatened for making a complaint. If you are not sure how we can help, please call.

Responsibilities

The Ombudsperson investigates complaints about youth in California juvenile facilities who believe their rights are being violated or are experiencing harmful conditions. This Division: 

  • Develops and shares information explaining youth’s rights while in the juvenile justice system.

  • Receives, investigates, and tries to informally resolve complaints about youth rights, harmful conditions or practices, and violations of law and regulations.

  • Publishes regular reports to the Legislature about types and numbers of complaints received, the actions the Ombudsperson has taken to resolve complaints, and the subsequent findings.

  • Meets or communicates privately with any youth in a juvenile facility.

  • Accesses and reviews relevant records and documents

  • Shares information and provides training and technical assistance to youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system, social workers, probation officers, tribal child welfare agencies, child welfare organizations, and other interested parties on the rights of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and the services provided by the ombudsperson.

  • Accesses, visits, and observes juvenile facilities.

  • Designs, develops, and provides each juvenile justice facility with the Youth Bill of Rights and posters that have the toll-free telephone number of the Ombudsperson Division. These are made available in English and Spanish.

  • Develops and shares information explaining youth’s rights while in the juvenile justice system.

  • Receives, investigates, and tries to informally resolve complaints about youth rights, harmful conditions or practices, and violations of law and regulations.

  • Publishes regular reports to the Legislature about types and numbers of complaints received, the actions the Ombudsperson has taken to resolve complaints, and the subsequent findings.

  • Meets or communicates privately with any youth in a juvenile facility.

  • Accesses and reviews relevant records and documents

  • Shares information and provides training and technical assistance to youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system, social workers, probation officers, tribal child welfare agencies, child welfare organizations, and other interested parties on the rights of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and the services provided by the ombudsperson.

  • Accesses, visits, and observes juvenile facilities.

  • Designs, develops, and provides each juvenile justice facility with the Youth Bill of Rights and posters that have the toll-free telephone number of the Ombudsperson Division. These are made available in English and Spanish.

Need Help?

If you need to file a complaint or request information from our Ombudsperson Division, please reach out to us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  

Help Line: 1(844) 402-1880

  • Speak with staff Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm; leave a message after hours and on holidays

Email Address: OYCRombuds@chhs.ca.gov

Mailing Address: 1215 O Street, MS-08, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ombuds Publications

  1. OYCR Youth Bill of Rights Brochure (Wallet-Size 3”x4.25”) (English) (Español)
  2. OYCR Youth Bill of Rights Poster (Wall-Poster 24”x36”) (English) (Español)
  3. OYCR Ombudsperson Brochure (Trifold 8.5”x11”) (English) (Español)
  4. OYCR Ombudsperson Poster (Wall-Poster 18”x24”) (English) (Español)

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Youth Bill of Rights apply to me?

The Youth Bill of Rights in English, Spanish applies to any youth confined in any juvenile justice facility in the state of California. 

Who is supposed to teach me about my rights?

The juvenile facility is required to provide all youth with an age and developmentally appropriate orientation that includes an explanation and a copy of their rights and responsibilities. The facility is also required to address youth’s questions and concerns. The OYCR Ombudsperson can also help educate you on your rights. 

How will my parents/guardians know about the Youth Bill of Rights that apply to me in a California juvenile justice facility?

Copies of the Youth Bill of Rights in English, Spanish, and other languages will be provided to parents and guardians in orientation packets. They will also be made available in the visiting areas of juvenile justice facilities. Parents and anyone from the public can contact the Ombudsperson to request free copies of the Youth Bill of Rights for youth in California juvenile justice facilities.

What can I do if my rights are being violated?

There are a few options if you think your rights (or a youth’s rights) are being violated. Write down as much information as you can remember (most youth in facilities do not have access to internet) and file a grievance at the juvenile justice facility, share the concern with the youth’s attorney, or contact the OYCR Ombudsperson, and try to remember the following info:

  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Who was involved?
  • What rights were violated?
Who can I contact if my rights are being violated?

Contact the OYCR Ombudsperson by calling 1(844) 402-1880 or emailing OYCRombuds@chhs.ca.gov. You can also file a grievance with the juvenile facility and/or contact your attorney, local ombudspersons, and other advocates regarding conditions of confinement or violations of rights.

What is the authority of the OYCR Ombudsperson?

The Ombudsperson within the Office of Youth and Community Restoration (OYCR) has the authority to investigate complaints from youth, families, staff, and others about harmful conditions or practices and violations of laws and regulations in any juvenile facility in the state of California. The Ombudsperson’s authority is set out in Welfare and Institutions Code sections 2200, 2200.2, 2200.5, and 2200.7. 

Is the call to the Ombuds Office confidential?

We have a confidentiality obligation to never disclose who the person is that contacted us to make the complaint. If the Ombudsperson chooses to investigate your concerns, they may need to release certain information in the process of conducting their duties, such as asking to review certain records or interview youth in a facility. The ombudsperson will not give records to anyone and anything you say to the Ombudsperson during interviews will be confidential.

What types of concerns does the Ombudsperson handle?

The Ombudsperson can investigate complaints from youth, families, staff, and others about harmful conditions or practices, violations of laws and regulations governing facilities, and circumstances presenting an emergency situation in juvenile justice facilities.

What happens next (after this call)?

The complaint intake is conducted and passed on to the Ombudsperson (or acting Ombudsperson) to review the information and make a determination if they will investigate this concern or refer you to another agency to address your concerns. The Ombudsperson or their staff will contact you to let you know if your complaint is being investigated, and will keep you updated on the progress of the case as well as the outcome. 

What can the Ombudsperson do?
  • They can choose whether or not to investigate concerns or refer them to other places to be addressed.

  • They can help you understand different ways you can address your concerns.

  • They can meet and communicate with a youth privately

  • They can interview people, access records, and visit juvenile justice facilities.

  • They can make recommendations to the Chief Probation Officer to resolve the complaint.

  • They can make reports to the legislature and others about the types of complaints they get, problems within the juvenile justice system, and recommendations for improving the system.

     

What is the Ombudsperson not able to do?
  • They cannot change court orders.

  • They cannot investigate complaints about judges and attorneys.

  • They cannot provide legal advice.

  • They cannot investigate or fire staff, but if there is a concern with a staff or probation officer, this will be reported to the appropriate personnel office to be addressed.

Is the hotline answered by a live person or does it go to a message?

The hotline begins with a prerecorded messages and then is transferred to a staff person. If we are on another call they will be asked to wait or can leave a message for a call back.

When should I call the hotline if I want to speak with a live person?

You can call during state Business Hours, 8:00am-5:00pm

What happens if I call after hours?

Messages can be left after hours and upon the staff logging back into the phone system they will return calls to the callers.

Can a complaint be anonymous?

Yes, but this does pose some challenges. In order for the office to meet the statutory obligations to inform a complainant of the decision to investigate or if the complaint is declined, the reasoning for that determination, and to meet the statutory need to do follow up with the complainant and to notify them of the outcome of the investigation, we will need to be able to contact them.

Can a complaint be filed about conditions without naming specific youth?

Yes. The intake staff will need to know the facility and what the issues are and will ask the complainant for all the relevant details to determine the approach the best approach to attempt to resolve the problem.

Will youth be retaliated against if they make a complaint to the Ombudsperson?

Youth have the right to make complaints to the OYCR Ombudsperson without fear of retaliation. OYCR takes seriously any allegations of retaliation. At the end of each call and when we interview youth we explain their right to be free of retaliation and to contact us and their attorney if they are experiencing retaliation. Retaliation will form the basis for a new complaint and will be investigated.

How does the OYCR Ombudsperson process interact with the facility grievance process?

The OYCR Ombuds process is separate from the facility grievance process. However, if we are aware that a facility grievance has been made, we will ask for those records as part of an investigation when it is relevant to the complaint.

What rights do I have as a young person confined in a juvenile justice facility?

Your rights are summarized in the Youth Bill of Rights (English, Español). If you have questions about your rights, you can call the OYCR Ombudsperson hotline. You can also ask your attorney.