Youth Ombudsperson

  • Full-time

Company Description

A best-in-class city that attracts best-in-class talent, Philadelphia is an incredible place to build a career. From our thriving arts scene and rich history to our culture of passion and grit, there are countless reasons to love living and working here. With a workforce of over 30,000 people, and more than 1,000 different job categories, the City of Philadelphia offers boundless opportunities to make an impact. 

As an employer, the City of Philadelphia values inclusion, integrity, innovation, empowerment, and hard work above all else. We offer a vibrant work environment, comprehensive health care and benefits, and the experience you need to grow and excel. If you’re interested in working with a passionate team of people who care about the future of Philadelphia, start here.

What we offer:

  •   Impact - The work you do here matters to millions. 
  •   Growth - Philadelphia is growing, why not grow with it? 
  •   Diversity & Inclusion - Find a career in a place where everyone belongs.
  •   Opportunities in Tech - Don’t wait for the future, shape it.
  •   Benefits - We care about your well-being.

Agency Description

Implementing a key recommendation of the Youth Residential Placement Task Force, the Kenney Administration recently established the Office of the Youth Ombudsperson (OYO) – a new City office that is fully focused on protecting the safety and wellbeing of Philadelphia youth who have been placed in residential settings via the juvenile justice, child welfare and/or behavioral health placement processes.
Reporting to the Inspector General, the OYO will work collaboratively with DHS, DBHIDS, CBH, OCF, MDO and other partner agencies across all levels of government to monitor and evaluate the quality of care at youth residential facilities that are operated by or contracted with the City of Philadelphia.
The OYO will serve as a key resource for youth and family as they navigate the residential placement experience, establishing an additional and supplemental avenue for information, complaints and inquiries. The OYO will actively monitor the City’s various compliance initiatives, grievance investigations and internal controls. The OYO is also tasked with gathering data from City agencies and providers to evaluate and improve the quality of care for youth in residential placements.

Job Description

The Youth Ombudsperson will oversee and direct all aspects of the newly created OYO. It is a senior-level position that will report to the Inspector General and directly advise the Mayor about the effectiveness of the City’s youth residential placement processes and service providers. This position is expected to have significant subject matter expertise and the ability to generate advanced, high-quality work in furtherance of the OYO’s mission with a high degree of autonomy.

The Youth Ombudsperson will manage the OYO’s budget, recruit and hire staff, design and implement office procedures, review and edit all written work and otherwise carry out the OYO’s mission. As this is a newly created position, its scope may continue to evolve and the selectee will be instrumental in shaping the role and the office.

The City seeks a candidate who is energized by the importance of the work and the opportunity to leverage resources and relationships in furtherance of protecting vulnerable youth. The position will collaborate with youth groups, law enforcement, community members, investigators, data scientists and other stakeholders in an environment where objectivity and diligence are critical to credibility and overall effectiveness.

Essential Functions

Leading & Planning

  • Setting strategic direction by guiding others and developing relationships built on trust;
  • Recruiting, training and engaging staff;
  • Determining the priority and scope of long-term and short-term projects:
  • Planning for all work phases, including the coordination of resources and staff;
  • Developing partnerships and collaborating with City agencies, community partners and other stakeholders;
  • Analyzing, allocating and maximizing funding;
  • Using effective change management and innovative ideas to resolve operational challenges;
  • Maintaining ongoing communication with a wide variety of community, civic, and government organizations related to youth residential placements.

Engaging & Educating

  • Visiting and inspecting sites to evaluate service quality and youth wellbeing;
  • Developing and delivering informative materials and educational programs for youth in residential placements, family members, advocates and other stakeholders;
  • Developing and maintaining an independent avenue to receive complaints and grievances;
  • Conducting or leading interviews of facility personnel, City employees, youth and others;
  • Supporting best practices research and secondary research, theory and practice relevant to youth residential placements.

Monitoring & Data Collection

  • Developing and maintaining a central City database of complaints, incidents and grievances relevant to youth residential placements;
  • Analyzing short and long-term data to identify issues that may be affecting quality of service and may require corrective action;
  • Monitoring and evaluating City agency action in response to complaints, grievances or incidents.

Communicating Results

  • Drafting written reports and recommendations to City agencies and officials to address complaints, adjust policy or procedure and otherwise improve the residential placement process;
  • Annually reporting on the work of the OYO;
  • Publishing data and informational resources to guide youth, family members and policy-makers;
  • Appearing in public forums to present the OYO’s work and encourage stakeholder engagement.


Competencies, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Knowledge of:

  • The scope, applicability and operational practice of the juvenile justice, child welfare and behavioral health systems in the City of Philadelphia;
  • The various agencies and stakeholders with distinct roles in the juvenile justice, child welfare and behavioral health placement processes, including at the City, state and national level;
  • Diverse communities and families;
  • The objectives, styles and methods of various types of investigations and reviews;
  • Investigative and interviewing methods and techniques;
  • Quantitative and qualitative statistical analysis;
  • Common office software, such as Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint.

Personal Attributes:

  • Be a strong, visionary, and decisive leader;
  • Promote and embrace best practices, collaboration, innovation, and transparency;
  • Proven ability to lead an organization through a strategic planning and implementation process;
  • Be politically astute and able to build trust, complemented by superior interpersonal and communication skills to act as an advocate to initiate discussions and gain support from stakeholders;
  • Can be counted on to exceed goals successfully, very outcome focused, steadfastly pushes self and others for results;
  • Decisive, able to process facts and circumstances and make quick decisions;
  • Relates well to all kinds of people, uses diplomacy and tact, builds constructive relationships;
  • Can orchestrate multiple activities at once, uses resources effectively and efficiently;
  • Can quickly find common ground and solve problems for the good of all, is a team player and is cooperative, encourages collaboration;
  • Accurately scopes out length and difficulty of tasks to simultaneously advance both short-term and long-term projects;
  • Sets objectives and goals, measures performance against goals, evaluates results;
  • Uses rigorous logic and methods to solve difficult problems, probes all fruitful sources for answers, can see hidden problems, is excellent at honest analysis;
  • Significant discretion and care in handling confidential and sensitive information;
  • Strong cultural competency and commitment to racial equity and social justice.


  • Bachelor’s degree required;
  • Advanced degree (e.g., MSW, JD, PhD) preferred;
  • At least 8 years of relevant experience in social work, law, criminal justice or other relevant social science field, including at least 4 years in a management/leadership role;
  • Significant experience working with diverse youth, particularly those who may have had contact with the child welfare, criminal justice or behavioral health systems or experienced some form of trauma, abuse or similarly challenging circumstance;
  • Significant experience with fact-finding and/or evaluating investigative material, fact-based reports and/or written narratives;
  • Understanding of government infrastructure, political dynamics and budget processes;
  • Understanding of the City of Philadelphia’s diverse population and experience working with diverse community members, government employees and individuals;
  • Strong connection and commitment to Philadelphia;
  • Valid PA Driver License required.
  • All applications must include a cover letter and a writing sample. Applications submitted without these materials will not be considered.

Additional Information

TO APPLY: Interested candidates must submit a cover letter and resume.

Salary Range: $92,881- $139,332

Did you know?

  • We are a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program qualified employer
  • Employees are eligible for a 25% tuition discount program (and sometimes spouses and dependents as well) in partnership with area colleges and universities
  • We offer comprehensive health coverage for employees and their eligible dependents
  • Our wellness program offers eligibility into the discounted medical plan
  • Employees receive paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays
  • Generous retirement savings options are available 

Successful candidate must be a city of Philadelphia resident within six months of hire.


Please note that effective September 1, 2021, the City of Philadelphia is requiring all new employees to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19. 

The City of Philadelphia is an Equal Opportunity employer and does not permit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, source of income, familial status, genetic information or domestic or sexual violence victim status. If you believe you were discriminated against, call the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations at 215-686-4670 or send an email to [email protected]. For more information, go to: Human Relations Website: