OCA Complaint Line

Learn more about the OCA complaint line, what the OCA can do and how to file a complaint.

Table of Contents

About the OCA Complaint Line

Anyone with concerns about a child or youth who is receiving state services can contact the OCA Complaint Line. State services are services that are provided directly by a state agency or services that are funded by a state agency. Some examples of state services are foster care, residential treatment programs, and some child care centers. OCA staff will listen to your concerns and give you resources, information, and other options to help you address the problem. We also track and analyze the complaints we receive to inform our inter-agency work and make recommendations to improve services for children.

Key Actions   for About the OCA Complaint Line

What The OCA Can Do

Before submitting a complaint to the OCA, please review the information below.  It lists what the OCA can do to help resolve complaints and concerns.

  • Offer options to help resolve the issue within the state agency that is involved
  • Provide information and resources to help resolve the issue
  • Help navigate complex service systems

What the OCA Cannot Do

Before submitting a complaint to the OCA, please review the information below.  It lists what the OCA cannot do to help resolve complaints and concerns.

  • Provide direct advocacy services
  • Assign individual advocates to adults or children
  • Give legal advice
  • Substitute our judgment for that of an agency or the courts
  • Intervene in any criminal or civil proceeding, or any criminal investigations
  • Investigate allegations of abuse or neglect

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, please contact the Child-at Risk hotline at 1-800-792-5200.

Key Actions   for What the OCA Cannot Do

How to Submit a Complaint with the OCA by Phone

OCA Complaint Line calls are returned during business hours, Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Messages can be left at any time. Staff are working remotely and can only return calls when a message includes the telephone number. 

Dial 617-979-8360 and provide your name, telephone number, and a brief description of the reason for your call.

How to Submit a Complaint with the OCA Online

Submit a complaint online by sending an email to childadvocate@mass.gov or

click the link below under Key Actions to fill out a form online.

Key Actions   for How to Submit a Complaint with the OCA Online

How to Submit a Complaint with the OCA by Mail

Mail your complaint to our office:

Office of the Child Advocate
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can call the OCA for help?

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

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 using the contact information on this page.

Is the OCA Complaint Line open 24/7?

No, OCA Complaint Line calls are returned Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (excluding state and federal holidays). Callers are asked to leave a message with their name, phone number, and a brief message. Due to the volume of calls it can take up to three business days to receive a response.

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 they are not receiving an adequate response, they have the right to speak with the next level of management in the “chain of command” within DCF.

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.

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