WSR 97-13-061

EMERGENCY RULES

OFFICE OF FAMILY

AND CHILDREN'S OMBUDSMAN

[Filed June 17, 1997, 10:02 a.m.]

Date of Adoption: June 16, 1997.

Purpose: To adopt emergency rules to facilitate opening operation of new office.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 43.06A.030(6).

Under RCW 34.05.350 the agency for good cause finds that immediate adoption, amendment, or repeal of a rule is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and that observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest.

Reasons for this Finding: The Office of Family and Children's Ombudsman is a new agency created to enhance and protect the public safety. These emergency rules will allow the agency to begin operation.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's own Initiative: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Effective Date of Rule: Immediately.

June 16, 1997

Charlotte E. Clark-Mahoney

Assistant Attorney General

Title 112 WAC

OFFICE OF THE FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S OMBUDSMAN

WAC 112 Title. This chapter shall be known as the Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-010 Preamble. The Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (OFCO) was established to promote public awareness and understanding of family and children's services, to identify systems issues, to monitor and ensure compliance with administrative acts, statutes, rules, and policies pertaining to family and children's services and to those pertaining to the placement, supervision, and treatment of children in the state's care, in state-licensed facilities or residences, or in state operated facilities.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-020 Definitions. For purposes of these rules the following terms have the meanings indicated:

(1) "Administrative Act" means an action, decision, or omission made by a governmental agency or a contracting or state-licensed agency that affects a family who is under state supervision due to allegations of child abuse or neglect, or a child who is in state custody.

(2) "Child and family services" are services provided by or through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), or state-licensed agencies, to families who are under state supervision due to allegations or findings of child abuse or neglect, or to children who are in state custody. These services include those provided by or through the Department of Social and Health Services, Children's Administration, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and Health and Rehabilitative Services Administration.

(3) "Confidential and confidentiality" refer to information that, in the opinion of OFCO, shall not be further disclosed or disseminated.

(4) "Department" means the Department of Social and Health Services.

(5) "Investigative records" refers to all records obtained, held, or generated by OFCO in the performance of its duties.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-030 Location. OFCO is located organizationally within the Office of the Governor, reports directly to the Governor, and exercises the powers of the office and duties independently of the Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-040 Authority. OFCO was created and receives its authority from RCW 43.06A.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-050 Duties. OFCO shall:

(1) Provide information as appropriate on the rights and responsibilities of individuals receiving family and children's services and on the procedures for providing these services.

(2) Investigate administrative acts alleged to be contrary to law, rule, or policy, imposed without an adequate statement of reason, or based on irrelevant, immaterial, or erroneous grounds.

(3) Monitor the procedures of DSHS in carrying out its responsibilities in delivering family and children's services.

(4) Review periodically the facilities and procedures of state institutions serving children and state licensed facilities or residences.

(5) Recommend changes in the procedures for addressing the needs of families and children.

(6) Submit an annual report to the Governor and the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC) analyzing the work of OFCO, including recommendations.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

[NEW SECTION]

WAC 112-10-060 Implementation of duties (1) Investigations

(a) OFCO investigations may be initiated based upon complaint or on its own initiative.

(b) OFCO may not investigate administrative acts or omissions that are not within the scope and priorities of the policies and resources of OFCO.

(c) OFCO may conduct its investigation based upon records review, interviews, and any other investigative tools necessary to carry out its duties.

(d) Actions to be taken by OFCO after an investigation may include:

(i) Recommendations to the Department for systemic changes that should be implemented to improve service or accountability; or

(ii) Recommendations to the Legislature for legislative enactments that would improve services or accountability; or

(iii) Recommendations to the Governor for policy or executive order changes that would improve services or accountability; or

(iv) Work as an intermediary between the Department and a complainant for a mutually agreeable solution to an individual, non-systemic, complaint or concern.

(2) Periodic Review of Facilities.

(a) OFCO will periodically review the policies and procedures of state institutions serving children and state-licensed facilities where children reside.

(b) Review of physical facilities may be triggered by policies and procedures review, complaint or as patterns raising concern arise through other investigations, reports or records received. The review will be conducted according to the policies and procedures established by OFCO.

(3) Handling of Records.

(a) As provided by applicable federal and state law, OFCO shall have access to, and permission to copy, all records held or accessible by Children's Administration that are relevant to any OFCO investigation. Access shall be as established pursuant to interagency protocol.

(b) Any records received shall be part of the OFCO investigative records.

(c) The determination of relevance of records held or accessible by DSHS shall be made by OFCO.

(4) Release of Records.

(a) OFCO investigative records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Disclosure Act, RCW 42.17.

(b) Records received by OFCO shall be maintained as provided for under the law.

(c) Relevant investigative records created by OFCO shall be released to the Legislative Oversight Committee upon request, unless prohibited by law.

(d) The determination of relevance of records to be released to the LOC shall be made by OFCO.

(e) The Ombudsman shall treat all matters under investigation and records received, as confidential.

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Reviser's note: The bracketed material preceding the section above was supplied by the code reviser's office.

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