• Who can call the OCA for help?

    Anyone who has a concern regarding a child receiving state services can call the OCA.

    What are state services?

    State services are services that are provided, licensed, or funded by the state. A few examples of state services are a DCF Foster home, a licensed day care, or a residential facility.

    What is the best way to contact the OCA?

    If you have concerns regarding the care of a child receiving state services, please call, fax, email, or send a letter to the OCA at:

     

                Office of the Child Advocate 
                One Ashburton Place, 5th Floor | Boston, MA 02108 
                Phone: (617) 979-8374 | Toll Free: (866) 790-3690 
                Complaint Line: (617) 979-8360 
                Email: childadvocate@state.ma.us

    Is the OCA Complaint Line open 24/7?

    No, the OCA Complaint Line is answered Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (excluding state and federal holidays). If you call outside the regular office hours, please leave a message with your name and phone number, and someone will get back to you within 48 business hours.

    How can the OCA help me?

    The OCA can listen to concerns, help navigate the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and provide information on resources and services that may be of help.

    What are the OCA’s limitations?

    The OCA cannot provide legal advice nor substitute its judgment for that of the child-serving agency or court.

    Does the OCA provide direct advocates for children who need them?

    The OCA does not assign individual advocates to adults or children, however the OCA can work with an individual over the phone to determine what information and resources will provide the assistance needed.

    How do I file a Report of Abuse or Neglect (51A) if I am concerned that a child is being harmed?

    Anyone can report child abuse or neglect by calling the Child-at-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200. The caller/reporter has the option to remain anonymous.

    What can I do if I feel that my social worker is not listening to my concerns?

    If an individual has already voiced a concern and feels that he or she is not receiving an adequate response, he or she has the right to speak with the next level of management “chain of command” within DCF.

    Image showing the DCF next level of management “chain of command”. Arrows pointing fromfrom Social Worker, Supervisor, Area Program Manager, Area Clinical Manager, and then Director of Areas

    The OCA suggests that instead of going straight to the highest level of management an individual start with the supervisor and managers as they will have a better understanding of the case.

    Can the OCA provide me with the name of the individual who holds the positions within the chain of command?

    No, the OCA does not have a database that contains personal information of DCF employees. In order to reach the appropriate person within the chain an individual must call the area office that the child’s case is out of and ask for the SUP, APM, ACM or DOA on the child’s case. The contact information for each area office can be found here.

    If I have gone up the levels of management within DCF and am still not satisfied with the response, who can I contact?

    The Ombudsman’s Office is an option to raise concerns regarding DCF. The office can be contacted at any time of one’s involvement with the DCF; it provides the following services:
    • responds to inquiries or issues of clients, foster and adoptive parents, advocates, legislators, and other concerned citizens regarding agency programs, policies or service delivery;
    • mediates and resolves these as possible; 
    • monitors the content of contacts for patterns indicating systemic problems or weaknesses;
    • compiles and utilizes this information along with suggested policy or programmatic changes to the Commissioner and other agency staff as appropriate.;
    An individual can reach the Ombudsman’s Office by calling 617-748-2444 or sending an email to DCFOmbudsman@state.ma.us. Please leave them a message if connected to the voicemail. The office receives a high volume of calls but they make sure to call each caller back.