Frequently Asked Questions Questions and answers for children and young people: English French Spanish Other FAQs What is the Ombuds Office approach? Who is part of the Ombuds Office? What is unique about this model? Why do we need the Ombuds Office? What are the advantages of having a National Ombuds and Ombuds Office? What are the benefits of child and youth participation? Who can access the ombuds? How can children, young people, and adults access a National Ombuds? What does a National Ombuds do when contacted by an "inquirer"? What is the Ombuds Office approach? The Ombuds Office approach gives children, young people, staff, and community members an independent person to confidentially share their concerns with regarding the safety and maltreatment of children and young people after a formal process within SOS Children’s Villages has not resulted in a successful outcome. Who is part of the Ombuds Office? The Ombuds Office consists of ombuds at the global, regional, and national levels. The diagram below identifies the Ombuds Office personnel and the office structure. And below is a model that illustrates the Ombuds Office and its approach: What is unique about this model? Young people are at the centre. This means they help develop the ombuds role and access points; recruit and select their ombuds; build awareness; and monitor access to the Ombuds Office. An Ombuds Board, separate from SOS Children’s Villages International Senate, oversees the Ombuds Office. The Ombuds Office is set up on four principles: confidentiality, impartiality, informality, and independence. Why do we need the Ombuds Office? SOS Children’s Villages International has been working on strengthening their ability to provide safe environments for all of their children, young people, and staff. The groundwork has been laid and now recent recommendations call for an Ombuds Office: The Independent Child Safeguarding Review made 46 recommendations to: ensure safe and caring environments everywhere SOS Children’s Villages operates; manage the risk of harm; be accountable for failures if they occur; and support anyone harmed. The Safeguarding Action Plan 2021-2024: Action 2 states “to develop and implement an Ombuds Office, to represent the rights of children and young people affected by abuse.” Strategy 2030 states one of the three goals is: “To ensure and live safeguarding in our daily actions.” A 2021 member association survey on the Ombuds approach (unpublished) showed that 46 member associations are interested in becoming a pilot for the Ombuds approach. Feedback from 315 children and young people in 2021 consultations and the corresponding Learning to Listen and Respond! consultation report: young people participated in defining the need for an Ombuds approach and developing key aspects of an Ombuds Office. What are the advantages of having a National Ombuds and Ombuds Office? It is a check and balance on child safeguarding to ensure that everything is being done to keep young people safe who are within SOS Children’s Villages programmes. An ombuds is an independent person who can influence safe outcomes for and with young people in all programmes. It shows donors, legislatures, and humanitarians that SOS Children’s Villages International is doing everything possible to provide safe environments for young people in their programmes. What are the benefits of child and youth participation? Young people give insights into their reality and needs. In enacting the “best interests of the child”, their participation is critical to the development and success of the Ombuds approach. There are guidance documents that outline how to successfully include young people in the development and ongoing monitoring of the Ombuds Office. Who can access the ombuds? Children and young people who are concerned about their or someone else’s safety and have not found child safeguarding helpful. Staff and community members who are concerned about the safety of a child or young person who is in SOS Children’s Villages programming. How can children, young people, and adults access a National Ombuds? The National Ombuds will be accessible through various communication methods: phone, email, in-person, WhatsApp, etc. Each National Advisory Group, and Representatives, will communicate the local access points. Young people will advise their member association on which access points will work best for them. What does a National Ombuds do when contacted by an "inquirer"? When an “inquirer” — a child or young person or concerned adult — contacts a National Ombuds with a concern, they will be heard, options will be discussed, and together next steps will be determined, whether it is to report to child safeguarding or find another solution.