What does the OCO do?
I ndiaidh próiseas oscailte earcaíochta, ina raibh ról tábhachtach ag leanaí agus daoine óga, cheap an tUachtarán Micheál D. Ó hUigínn, Niall Muldoon le bheith ina Ombudsman do Leanaí i mí Feabhra 2015.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is an independent office. The OCO was set up in 2004 under a law called the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002.
Under this law, the Ombudsman for Children has two main roles:
- to deal with complaints made by or for children and young people about the actions of public organisations
- to promote the rights and welfare of children and young people under 18 years old living in Ireland.
The OCO’s work to promote children’s rights and welfare includes:
- In relation to complaints:supporting people, including children and young people, to find out about children’s rights and how those rights can be respected, protected and made real
- finding out what children and young people are concerned about and highlighting their opinions to the Government and other people who make decisions that affect children and young people
- giving advice to the Government and others to help make sure that laws and plans affecting children and young people respect children’s rights
- encouraging public organisations to work in ways that promote children and young people’s rights and welfare
- carrying out research to get a better understanding of issues that are important in children and young people’s lives.
- Children and young people can make a complaint to the OCO or an adult can do this for a child or young person.
- The OCO can look into complaints about certain actions of public organisations that may have had a negative effect on a child.
- Public organisations that the OCO can deal with complaints about include government departments, state agencies, healthcare services, schools, social work services and local authorities.
- The OCO’s complaints service is a free service.
- When the OCO investigates complaints, we have to be independent. We are also impartial. This means that we don’t take sides: when we are looking into a complaint, we need to be fair and understand both sides of the story.
- As an ombudsman office, the OCO is intended to be a place of last resort for complaints.
- The complaints that the OCO receives relate to a wide range of issues affecting children, including issues to do with education, child protection, State care, family support, childcare, healthcare, housing and justice.
- Following an investigation of a complaint, the OCO may make recommendations to the public organisation concerned about how it can improve its practice.
More information about the OCO is available on the OCO’s website, www.oco.ie.