Title: The Foster Care Ombudsman: Distinctive in Name and Service
Pamela M. Woodman-Kaehler, MBA, MSW, LGSW
Office Director, Foster Care Ombudsman
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Office of Inspector General
Date: February 23rd, 2024
Time: 10:00am - 11:00am
Location: Virtual via Zoom,
Registration Link: Registration Link (Note: Registration closes Feb 22nd at 5:00 pm)
CLE Hours: 1.2 CLE
Eligible Audience: Defense only (Appointed Counsel/Panel Attorneys & Staff and Public Defender Attorneys & Staff)
In this presentation, attendees will learn how the West Virginia Foster Care Ombudsman, a unique and often misunderstood service within the WV Department of Health Office of Inspector General, is advancing its program to promote an empathic, healing, and accountable child welfare system. Attendees will be informed regarding the attributes, jurisdiction, target populations, and anticipated impact of the program, including data of interest, lessons learned since its inception in 2019, and the program's real potential to drive system wide improvements.
At the conclusion of the Foster Care Ombudsman presentation, attendees will be able to distinguish the role, authorities, and characteristics of an ombudsman generally and in West Virginia specifically, as compared to other options for customer service or the handling of complaints.
Pamela M. Woodman-Kaehler is the Office Director for the Foster Care Ombudsman unit within the Office of Inspector General, WV Department of Health and Human Resources. This independent and impartial service, created in 2019, is devoted to improving child welfare by investigating and resolving complaints involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected, foster children, foster and kinship parents, children served by the juvenile justice system, and children who have been subject to a critical incident or died. The Foster Care Ombudsman monitors associated legislation and policy, provides programs of public education on child welfare topics, and maintains an accountable data and reporting system for the purpose of system-wide improvement. In addition, Ms. Kaehler is an adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work at West Virginia University. Prior to these roles, Ms. Kaehler was a Child Protective Services Worker in Harrison County, where she was responsible for both investigative and on-going casework services to children and families. Before devoting her career to child welfare, she served in executive leadership and consulting roles with multi-state responsibility for all operational, financial, quality and compliance functions in complex, outpatient healthcare organizations. Concurrently, Ms. Kaehler was an approved Independent Review Organization by the U.S. Office of Inspector General and performed rigorous corporate compliance reviews for firms operating under federal Corporate Integrity Settlement Agreements.