Ombudspersons serve as client advocates in designated regions for individuals receiving services through the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) at developmental centers, transitioning into the community or already living in community settings. Ombudspersons also assist their families or guardians. The program embodies key components of the Justice Center’s mission as Ombudspersons advocate for individuals who are not able to speak for themselves and provide training and support to those who can make their own decisions to achieve greater independence.

The Ombudsperson’s duties include:

  • Advise and consult with the individual receiving services, parents, guardians, correspondents and other interested persons with respect to any complaints or issues related to the person receiving services;
  • Review and attempt to remedy specific complaints with responsible and appropriate staff;
  • Refer complaints regarding care or services that have not been administered as required by applicable standards to the appropriate agency or body for its attention;
  • Receive and keep confidential any complaint, information or inquiry from any source. The records of the Ombudsperson shall be confidential and shall not be available to the public;
  • Advise and consult with the Board of Visitors of the service area served by the Ombudsperson with respect to any complaints or issues relating to conditions of the client’s residence, treatment and care and attends the meetings of the board; 
  • Provide training on the rights of individuals receiving services and the role and responsibilities of the Ombudsperson;
  • Visit residential and community program sites to assess activities and services; support individuals receiving services in assuming the role of self-advocate and support inclusion of self- advocacy organizations in the Ombudsperson’s outreach efforts; and
  • Meet with the Commissioner of OPWDD, or a representative regarding systemic issues within the Ombudsperson’s jurisdiction.

Contact Information:

Confidential complaints or concerns can also be reported by emailing the Justice Center at [email protected] or by contacting our statewide Information and Referral Line at 1-800-624-4143 or TTY: Dial 7-1-1 for the NYS Relay and give the operator 1-800-624-4143.