Office of Children and Family Services

Picture of youth

Ombudsman

Youth Attorney Portal

If you are an attorney or law guardian, consult the information below for guidance that may assist you in representing a client who is or has been in the custody of the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

If your client is a youth in a Close to Home residential program through NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), you may contact your client’s placement and permanency specialist or ACS’s Office of Advocacy Helpline at 212-676-9421 for records.

Confidentiality

In general, records of the Office of the Ombudsman (OOTO) are confidential.

See Executive Law §§ 500 [3]; 501[1], [4]; 501-c [1] [a]; 523.

Available Records

OCFS may have mental health, substance abuse, medical, and/or educational records in its possession that may be useful to attorneys in advocating for a client. This does not constitute notice that such records exist.

For attorneys seeking such records, a request for records must contain the following:

  • The type of record requested (e.g., educational records, medical records, substance abuse treatment records, etc.);
  • The person designated to receive the record;
  • If the client is 18 years old or older, a signed and notarized authorization to release and the duration of the authorization;
  • In the case of educational records, the purpose of release.

Although there are exceptions, if a client is under the age of 18, his or her parent or legal guardian must authorize the release of any record(s).

Please contact OOTO via the Contact page for forms attorneys may use to request relevant records.

Records Requiring a Court Order

For a youth who is or has been in OCFS custody, release of the youth’s entire record requires a court order.

See Executive Law § 501-c; 9 NYCRR 168.7.

Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center)

If a case against a client involves a facility staff member, the Justice Center may initiate a parallel investigation.

Attorneys may contact the Justice Center at 518-549-0200.

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