FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 22, 2020
Government Accountability Project Praises D.C. City Council for Unanimous Passage of the Ombudsperson for Children Establishment Amendment Act of 2020
New Act Models Recommendations of the U.S. Ombudsman Association to Keep Children Safe
WASHINGTON – Today, Government Accountability Project praised the D.C. City Council for its December 15, 2020 unanimous passage of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children Establishment Amendment Act of 2020. To establish protections against the abuse and neglect of foster children, the Act creates an independent Ombudsman for children, which aligns with recommendations in the model law of the U.S. Ombudsman Association. The new Office will report to and can only be removed by the City Council, and it is free from control by the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFAS) – where it previously had been a subunit.
The legislation comes in response to an over three-year campaign by former CFAS Ombudsman Christian Greene, who was fired in May 2017 after blowing the whistle on CFAS censorship of foster child-care breakdowns, which caused lifelong emotional damage and even death. She blew the whistle to challenge abuses such as withholding and censoring Ombudsman reports, obstructing Ombudsman investigations, and covering up associated deaths.
In her attached statement, Ms. Greene noted,
“I saw the agency repeatedly make child safety decisions based on its liability rather than the welfare of the children or legal validity. The consequences of these decisions were catastrophic and sometimes fatal. The truth is clinical safety decisions are being impeded by politics or unlicensed leadership.”
Ms. Greene is a clinical social worker who has been helping foster children since 2005. Since her termination, she has served as a consultant and mentor for the nonprofit organization “Whistleblowers of America” to help those traumatized by whistleblower retaliation.
Greene’s attorney, Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine, stated,
“Last week the D.C. City Council gave a badly-needed Christmas present to foster children in D.C., who will start having a chance thanks to the unsinkable Christian Greene. She singlehandedly began a campaign that ended control by a government bureaucracy whose primary commitment was to serve itself, no matter what expense to foster children.”
Ms. Greene also is represented by D.C. attorney Doug Hartnett of Hartnett and Elitok in court appealing her dismissal under the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act.
The legislation not only gives the Ombudsman independence, but also empowers the Office with broad authority to establish accountability through oversight of CFAS operations.
The law gives the Office –
* investigative power with subpoena authority for individual cases and CFAS activities;
* authority for unannounced inspections;
* authority to refer cases for civil or criminal prosecution;
* protection against retaliation; and
* authority to prepare regular assessments in reports to the City Council of CFAS operations.
The law also includes whistleblower rights additive to those available in the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act, extending beyond government employees to children, victims of abuse, and any witnesses in an Ombudsman investigation. The whistleblower provisions provide court access to seek injunctive relief, as well as actual and punitive damages.
Contact: Andrew Harman,
Phone: (202) 926-3304
Government Accountability Project
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.