In 1978, as part of The Older Americans Act, the federal government mandated the establishment of the Ombudsman Program to assist residents of long term care facilities in the safeguarding of their civil and human rights. As a result, the California Department of Aging created the Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman. Headed by the State Ombudsman, a position filled through gubernatorial appointment, this agency designated 35 subdivisions to provide complaint investigation and other services to the state’s then 200,000 individuals in nursing homes and residential care facilities. These services were to be provided at the local level by a corps of state-certified volunteers.
From the beginning, however, a tremendous gap existed between the legal mandate of the Ombudsman Program and the effective delivery of its services. In 1979, at the suggestion of the State Ombudsman Program Development Specialist, the California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association (CLTCOA) was established. It was believed that local programs would be strengthened and the interests of their clients served by forming an association of ombudsmen independent of a government bureaucracy to uphold the integrity of the Program as first defined by the Older Americans Act. In June of 1980, CLTCOA was approved by the I.R.S. as a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization.