Family Services Team (FST)
478 Main Street
(Also Pearl Street Entrance)
Children’s Services Intake and Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) Diversion Services.
The Family Services Team assesses each youth’s risks/strengths and the family’s needs, to determine optimal linkage to community based services.
The Family Service Team may be able to assist you if:
- Youth willfully does not attend school regularly
- Often disobeys parents, guardians, or other authority figures despite appropriate parental attempts to intervene
- AWOL (Runaway) whereabouts unknown for over 24 hours
- Substance abuse without treatment cooperation.
The Family Services Team assesses each youth's risks/strengths and the family's needs, to determine optimal linkage to community based services or services within the Erie County Department of Social Services.
The goal of the Family Service Team is to assist families in stabilizing their own home environments and preventing youth from penetrating the Juvenile Justice System if possible and appropriate.
The Family Service Team (FST) is a voluntary preventive service under the Erie County Department of Social Services, which also includes PINS (Persons In Need of Supervision) Diversion services. Families who want or need their youth enrolled in the service come to the FST window at 478 Main Street-2nd floor where an intake worker assesses the family risk levels within the home, school and community. Based on both the risks and strengths of the family, the best fit for linkages to services are offered to promote family stabilization, as well as to increase the likelihood of the youth remaining in the home and community.
The overarching goal for the Family Services Team is to assist families in stabilizing their home environments and to prevent youth from becoming involved, or more deeply involved, in the Juvenile Justice System, where possible and most appropriate.
What is PINS?
Persons In Need of Supervision is a term used to describe youth with serious behavioral problems who come to the attention of the Juvenile Justice System, whereby an adjudication of PINS is made in Court.
Who is a PINS Diversion Eligible Youth?
Youth under the age of 18 who show a pattern of ungovernable behavior, such as running away, curfew violations, alcohol and/or drug abuse, violent or destructive behavior, or severe school truancy.
As defined by law, a PINS is “a youth less than 18 years of age who does not attend school; or is incorrigible, ungovernable, or habitually disobedient and beyond the control of a parent or other person legally responsible for such child’s care; or a youth who violates the provision of 221.05 of the penal law (unlawful possession of marijuana).”
Who can bring a complaint?
Most PINS behavioral complaints are made by parents, or, in the case of severe truancy problems, by school districts.
Can I use PINS Diversion to PREVENT problems with my teenager?
NO. PINS Diversion cases are accepted only if a pattern of ungovernable behavior already exists. Threats to run away or not attend school are not grounds for PINS intervention.
How do I apply for services?
- Families should present themselves to the 2nd floor of 478 Main Street, Buffalo between the hours of 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
- Parents should be prepared to complete paperwork at the intake meeting with the FST staff. Parents should bring with them the social security numbers and birthdates of all members in their household. This intake meeting is usually one hour in length.
- If appropriate, the parent will be referred to the Early Intervention Community Program as a first step in problem resolution.
- If your family situation does not meet the criteria for PINS Diversion, the intake worker may be able to direct you to appropriate services elsewhere.
Can I go directly to Family Court?
NO. All PINS Diversion complaints in Erie County must come through the Family Services Team. Generally a service plan is implemented and is required prior to Family Court involvement.
For children under eighteen, do I have to bring my child for the PINS Diversion interview?
The parent may come to the intake appointment without the child or youth.
PINS Diversion problems are largely family problems in need of services, not Court cases in need of prosecution. Appropriate measures WILL be taken however, including Court, as necessary.