RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he is appointing Virginia’s first Director of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman. This announcement follows the decision by the General Assembly in 2020 to establish the Office.
Eric J. Reynolds has been named the first director after serving as Staff Attorney for Court Improvement Programs at the Virginia Supreme Court for the past few years.
“The role of the Children’s Ombudsman is to ensure every child in Virginia has a safe and permanent home,” said Governor Northam. “Eric Reynolds is a compassionate leader with extensive experience working in our foster care system and with agencies that serve children—he is the right person for this important position.”
As an independent agency, the office is authorized to receive complaints and investigate and review actions of the Virginia Department of Social Services, local departments of social services, child-placing agencies, or child-caring institutions.
Previously, families could only file a complaint with a local department of social services was with the agency itself or with the Department of Social Services.
“I am honored to serve in this inaugural role,” said Reynolds. “I was drawn to this position because I know how much of an impact it can make. I look forward to working alongside the Department of Social Services to ensure that the needs of foster care children across Virginia are put first.”
He is eligible to serve a four year term, pending approval by the General Assembly.
“The creation of this office is an important step in our ongoing work to strengthen Virginia’s foster care system,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “I am confident that Director Reynolds will build an office that improves outcomes and delivers results for children in foster care and their families.”
Reynolds earned his law degree from the University of Richmond and his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York.