Tracie Johnson, shown from the neck up. She is facing the viewer and is smiling.
Photo courtesy of the City of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia gains its first Youth Ombudsperson

Following recommendations to improve the well-being and safety of children in the city, Tracie Johnson will act in an oversight role in a new City Department.


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The City of Philadelphia has announced that the newly created Office of the Youth Ombudsperson (OYO) will be headed by Tracie Johnson. The office was established in November 2022 through Executive Order 5-22 in the Office of the Inspector General.

In this role, Johnson will provide additional oversight to the City's child welfare, juvenile justice, and behavioral health systems' work, with regard for youth in residential placements. As an ombudsperson, she will receive and investigate concerns raised and seek to resolve them, primarily through recommendation or mediation.

In November, 2019, the Youth Residential Placement Task Force published a report, detailing recommendations to reduce residential placement, while improving the safety and quality of placement. One of their recommendations was the creation of a Youth Ombudsperson.

“Philadelphia’s youth deserve the best opportunities to grow in a safe environment, and I believe it is our collective responsibility to afford our kids that support,” said Youth Ombudsperson Tracie Johnson, in a statement.

“It is an honor to be entrusted with responsibility of building out this newly created office, and I am excited to begin working with our City’s leaders, youth advocates, and directly impacted youth who have been in congregate care to ensure that our most vulnerable kids are afforded the best treatment and care while in placement,” she continued. 

Throughout her career, Johnson has developed a reputation as a big advocate for youth support and justice. 

Prior to her new position, Johnson served as a Staff Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow at Community Legal Services, a provider of legal assistance to low-income Philadelphia residents.

In that role, she sought to create career pathways for women of color by aiding them in overcoming legal barriers they faced in attaining employment and higher education. Her work cleared juvenile adult and criminal records, along with advocacy to employers and schools.

“Philadelphia youth deserve to be safe and to thrive, and I am confident that Tracie Johnson will bring valuable additional oversight and partnership to making this commitment real for every child,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

“I am grateful for all of the stakeholders, especially the Youth Residential Placement Task Force and many young people, whose dedication, leadership, and recommendations informed the creation of this new Office. Their vision is now truly a reality and I welcome the OYO’s contributions to the important work of protecting and supporting vulnerable children and youth,” he continued.

Johnson is a graduate of Ursinus College, and received her law degree from Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, and is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. 

She was previously awarded the 2017 Pennsylvania Bar Association's Public Interest Section Law Student Award.


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