The Office of the Child Advocate shall safeguard the welfare of Delaware's children through educational advocacy, system reform, public awareness, training, and legal representation of children as set forth in 29 Del. C., Ch. 90A.
Goals of the Office of the Child Advocate:
- Ensure that every child’s voice is heard in every court proceeding, which affects his or her life;
- Ensure that every partner in the child protection system has the necessary education and training to put a child’s safety and well-being above all else;
- Ensure that Delaware’s child welfare laws reflect the needs of our children and are a model for the nation.
Duties of the Child Advocate:
- Effectuate the purposes of the Child Protection Accountability Commission (“Commission” or CPAC”);
- Take all possible actions, including programs of public education and legislative advocacy, to ensure the legal, civil and special rights of children;
- Revise, periodically, all relevant policies and procedures with a view toward the rights of children;
- Refer any person making a complaint or report required by Chapter 9 of Title 16 of the Delaware Code to the Division of Family Services, and, if warranted, to an appropriate police agency. If a complaint or report includes an allegation of misconduct against a Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families employee, the complaint or report must also be referred to the Secretary of the Department;
- Recommend changes in the procedures for investigating and overseeing the welfare of children;
- Make the public aware of the services of the Office of the Child Advocate and the Child Protection Accountability Commission, their purposes, and how they can be contacted;
- Apply for and accept grants, gifts and bequests of funds from other state, federal and interstate agencies, as well as from private firms, individuals and foundations for the purpose of carrying out the Child Protection Accountability Commission’s lawful responsibilities. The funds must be deposited with the State Treasurer in a restricted receipt account established to permit funds to be expended in accordance with the provision of the grant, gift or bequest;
- Examine policies and procedures and evaluate the effectiveness of the child protection system, specifically the respective roles of the Division of Family Services, the Attorney General’s Office, the courts, the medical community and law enforcement agencies;
- Review and make recommendations concerning investigative procedures and emergency responses of the child welfare system;
- Develop and provide quality training to Division of Family Services’ staff, Deputy Attorneys General, law enforcement officers, the medical community, Family Court personnel, educators, day care providers, and others on the various standards, criteria and investigative technology used in child welfare cases;
- Submit an annual report analyzing the work of the Office of the Child Advocate that shall be included in the Child Protection Accountability Commission’s annual report; and
- Take whatever other actions are necessary to help the Commission accomplish its goals.