Chapter 7 : Section 17
The Department shall provide a conflict resolution process that is as neutral as possible within the limits of its role as part of the management structure of DCS in order to facilitate fair and equitable resolutions to complaints. DCS shall interact with all complainants in a cooperative and professional manner.
A complaint is a written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction about services, actions, or lack of actions or manner of treatment by the Department. Complaints can be made by:
any person that is applying for or receiving services from the Department;
any person or entity providing services to the Department's clients; and
members of the public who express concerns regarding child welfare.
The Department shall work cooperatively with the complainant to resolve the issue promptly in an informal manner.
The Department's Office of the Ombudsman will review the complaint to determine the best course of action to resolve the issue.
Some complaints involving certain Department actions will be resolved by the courts or administrative tribunals as provided for by law and are therefore excluded from the grievance process.
The Department’s Office of the Ombudsman shall receive and respond to complaints regarding individual cases that involve the child welfare system, including complaints made to:
the Governor’s Office;
the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizen Aide's Office;
Legislative/Senate Constituent Services; and
the DCS Director's Office.
Complaints should be resolved among those most familiar with the situation and who have the ability to resolve the complaint. Case-related complaints should be first addressed with the DCS Specialist and may be elevated to the DCS Specialist's Supervisor if not satisfactorily resolved. After attempting to resolve the complaint with the DCS Program Supervisor, the complainant may elevate the concern to the Program Manager. After attempting to resolve the complaint with the Program Manager, the complainant may elevate the concern to the Office of the Ombudsman through the Online complaint form (www.azdcs.gov), by telephone (602-364-0777 or toll-free at 877-527-0765), or by email Ombudsman@azdcs.gov.
Complaints are received and reviewed by the DCS Office of the Ombudsman to determine the best course of action to be taken to resolve the issue. If the complaint is eligible for action by the DCS Office of the Ombudsman, the sender is notified of the designated course of action.
When the DCS Office of the Ombudsman determines that a grievance is the best course of action, the complainant is provided with an explanation of the grievance process and the grievance form.
Complaints Received by the Office of the Ombudsman
For a written or verbal complaint, the DCS Ombudsman, Advocate or designee:
explores with the person their specific complaint and provides them with any relevant DCS policies and procedures;
when necessary, requests additional documentation for review to understand the complaint; and
emails the appropriate DCS Specialist and DCS Program Supervisor requesting either follow-up or resolution of the complaint or concern. If a response is not received within two working days, the concern will be elevated to the Program Manager and/or Program Administrator for response.
Then the DCS Specialist and/or DCS Program Supervisor:
contacts the person and provides follow-up or determines what actions need to occur to address the complaint in accordance with the best interests of the family being served by DCS; and
emails a response to the Office of the Ombudsman identifying how the specific complaint has been addressed within two (2) working days.
The DCS Ombudsman, Advocate or designee then determines if the complaint requires additional resolution and follow-up.
Complaints will be considered for the Client Grievance process upon review by the Office of the Ombudsman and only after less formal conflict resolution processes such as informal discussion involving the DCS Specialist and the DCS Program Supervisor have been attempted.
Client Grievance Process: Upon determination by the DCS Office of the Ombudsman that a complaint requires a formal response, the complaint will be referred to the Client Grievance process.
If the complaint is eligible to proceed with the Client Grievance process, the DCS Office of the Ombudsman assigns it to the Program Administrator or designee to address the matter.
The Program Administrator or designee shall schedule a face-to-face meeting within 14 working days with the person who filed the grievance to attempt to resolve the complaint. A teleconference may be held if a face-to-face meeting is not possible. Once the meeting is scheduled, proceed as follows:
If the complainant attends the meeting, the Program Administrator or designee shall mail a response letter to the complainant within five working days of the meeting. The response letter must include the date of the grievance meeting, detail the issues discussed and the identified resolutions. The Client Grievance Level II form must be enclosed with the written response so the client may request further appeal through the DCS Office of the Ombudsman.
If the complainant fails to attend the grievance meeting, the Program Manager or designee shall mail a response letter that addresses the grievance concerns but advise the complainant the matter is closed.
The Program Administrator shall also email the response letter to all appropriate parties, including the DCS Office of the Ombudsman.
The Office of the Ombudsman, in consultation with the Program Administrator or Program Manager, determines if a complaint requires additional resolution and if follow-up is needed.
If a complainant is not satisfied with the Client Grievance Level I response, they may appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman by submitting a Client Grievance Level II form.
Potential Kinship Care Providers
Complaints by potential kinship care providers are addressed according to the Client Grievance process using the Kinship Placement Denial grievance form which is included with the Kinship Placement Notification Letter, CSO-1013A.
Resolution and Follow-up Actions
When a complaint requires additional resolution and follow-up, a corrective action plan for resolution is developed by the Program Administrator, designee or appropriate Central Office Manager and shall be approved by the DCS Ombudsman or designee. The plan includes actions to be completed with due dates for their completion.
Kinship Placement Notification Letter (Spanish), CSO-1013A-S
Client Grievance Level I (Spanish), CSO-1016A-S
Client Grievance Level II (Spanish), CSO-1017A-S
Client Grievance Level III (Spanish), CSO-1018A-S
42 U.S.C. 5106A - GRANTS TO STATES FOR CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT PREVENTION AND TREATMENT PROGRAMS