Services for Children, Families & Adults

Adult Protection

The Adult Protection component of the Erie County Department of Social Services provides a variety of specialized protective services to vulnerable adults, ages 18 and older whose condition or circumstances make them vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by others.

Available Adult Services:

These beneficial services are designed to prevent or remedy the neglect, exploitation, or abuse of vulnerable adults by strengthening their capacity to function and ability to be self-directing. For more information, please call 858-6877.

Eligibility & Referrals:

Who is eligible for these services?

How are referrals made for these services?

Any concerned person, family member, friend, neighbor, law enforcement officer, health professional, clergy or financial institution employee who observes an individual having difficulty in providing for their most basic needs; such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or personal safety are urged to call Adult Services at [716] 858-6877 to inquire about making a referral. Individuals recognizing their own needs for help should contact us for assistance.

The Assessment Process:

To qualify for the Protective Services for Adults [PSA] level of services:

Individuals must be 18 years and older who:

After an Adult Services caseworker completes an assessment, a service category is selected to most adequately address the client's identified needs and level of risk.

Protecting Adults -

In New York State, local Social Services districts have the primary responsibility of providing services to impaired adults living in the community. Successful service delivery relies on community resources and requires collaboration among health and mental health services, programs for the aged, law enforcement, financial institutions, legal agencies, and the courts.

Examples of Social Services and Community Agencies working together:

Rights of the Individual -

Adults have the inherent right to make their own decisions. They may choose to accept or refuse the services that are offered. However, in cases of extreme need, the Erie County Department of Social Services will intervene to ensure the safety of the individual, regardless of their willingness to voluntarily accept help.

Child Protective Services

Erie County child protective services investigates reports alleging child abuse or neglect. The purpose of Child Protective Services [CPS] is to ensure that children are safe and to prevent any future abuse or neglect through the provision of supportive services. CPS protects children from physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse by their parents and caretakers. CPS also helps families obtain needed services to guarantee their children are safe from harm.

When a child is not safe at home, placement of the child outside the home will be considered. The child's placement may be done on a voluntary basis, with the parent's approval, or on a non-voluntary basis, at the direction of the court.

Once a child is determined to be safe, an evaluation of risk or likelihood of future neglect is made. It is then ascertained if any services are needed to ensure that this risk is minimized.

What is considered maltreatment/neglect?

Maltreatment is defined as a child younger than 18 years old whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired, or is likely to be impaired as a result of a parent or the person legally responsible for the child failing to exercise a minimum degree of care in:

What is considered abuse?

An abused child is defined as a child younger than 18 years old whose parent or person legally responsible for his/her care:

How do I report abuse or neglect?

If you have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being neglected or abused, please call the New York State Central Register at 1-800-342-3720.

If the information you provide meets the legal criteria for abuse or maltreatment, your report will be recorded and electronically forwarded to the Erie County Child Protective Services Division for investigation. A CPS worker will be assigned to meet with the family and assess the situation to ensure that the children are safe in the home. The name of the person making the report will be kept in confidence.

Mandated reporters:

Hospital personnel, teachers, law enforcement officers, and social workers and members of certain other professions designated by New York State are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect and may be subject to legal consequences if they fail to do so. Mandated reporters should call 1-800-635-1522 with information.

Children's Services

The Children's Services [CS] Division collaborates with community agencies and service providers to support families based on their cultural and individual strengths and needs to provide preventive and foster care services.

Children's Services continues its efforts to prevent foster care placement whenever possible, and to achieve the goal of reunifying foster children with their families or with a safe and permanent home for up to 12 months or sooner. When reunification is not possible, the effort is directed toward hastening permanency for the child through adoption.

Children's Services Responsibilities:

Preventive Services:

Are 'supportive and rehabilitative services' provided to children and their families for averting out-of-home placement of the child; enabling a child placed in foster care to return home or reducing the likelihood that a child who has been discharged from foster care would return.

Preventive Services include:

Foster Care:

Children's Services provides case planning and case management for families with children in out of home placement. Out of home placement includes regular and therapeutic foster care, residential care and placement with kin. The goal of all services provided is to obtain permanency for children in the shortest time possible.

Closing the Gap Initiative:

The Closing the Gap Schools Initiative is a proactive collaboration among Buffalo Public Schools, community services providers, the United Way, ECDSS; and other State, County and municipal service systems to coordinate services to families of children in the Buffalo Public Schools in order to address barriers to academic achievement.

The Goal:

To identify and address the underlying causes of a child's reduced school performance in an effective, comprehensive manner at the earliest point possible. Currently, six Buffalo Public Schools participate in this collaboration.

A Closing the Gap School integrates health and human services to address the non-academic barriers of children and their families to enhance learning.


Non-Parent Caregivers (Grandparents, Other Relatives, Friends) Caring for Children

Non-parent caregivers, who are caring for children without a parent living in their home, may be eligible
for Temporary Assistance. Temporary Assistance for children not living with a parent is often referred
to as “non-parent caregiver” or “child-only” grants, and includes Medical Assistance (MA). If the non-
parent caregiver wants assistance only for the children, the non-parent caregiver’s income is not used to
determine eligibility and there are no Temporary Assistance work requirements for the non-parent
caregiver. Non-parent caregivers may apply for temporary assistance at their local social services office.

In addition to financial assistance, non-parent caregivers (also called kinship caregivers) often have a
need for information and assistance related to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly referred to as Food Stamps), the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), custody, guardianship, foster care, adoption, schooling, school enrollment, and other forms of assistance such as child care, social security, respite, case management and service programs.

For information about services and assistance programs please visit the following websites: - The NYS Kinship Navigator’s website offers legal fact sheets, state and
local kinship resources, and other information. In addition, the Navigator operates a 24-hour toll
free phone line at 1-877-454- 6463. Kinship Specialists are available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday. Calls received after 4:00 p.m. will be returned the following business day. - The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) - MyBenefits is an online tool to help you learn about eligibility for
financial assistance and other benefit programs. A simple, 10-minute prescreening from any
computer with Internet access at any time, determines whether you are likely to qualify for
SNAP, HEAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, child dependent care credits, school lunch
and other programs. - The NYS Office of Children and Family
Services (OCFS) provides contact information and links to the Kinship Caregiver Programs
funded through OCFS, as well as a variety of resources for families and staff, including the
Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP), a subsidy program available to kinship
caregivers who are foster parents.

Your local Social Services District (SSD) and local area Office for the Aging (OFA) are also resources
for information on kinship care.

Domestic Violence


  What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional, coercive behaviors that may include verbal, physical, sexual, financial and/or emotional abuse directed against current or former spouses/partners, parents, children or any family member, in order to establish and maintain power and control.

Some behaviors in this pattern are clearly criminal acts. Other behaviors are not necessarily illegal but are abusive and controlling, designed to intimidate or instill fear.

Victims of domestic abuse come from every culture, income group, age, and religion. They frequently share feelings of isolation, guilt, fear, shame, and helplessness. Intervention by the criminal justice system is often necessary, and, with support, victims can emerge as survivors.

Does your partner or family member:

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, you are at risk of being a victim of domestic violence.


In April 1998, New York State passed legislation addressing the problem of domestic violence. Caseworkers in the Domestic Violence Unit assess claims of domestic violence made by welfare applicants &/or recipients to determine credibility, and to what extent the individual's safety would be jeopardized by fulfilling employment, paternity, child support, spousal support, or other welfare reform requirements.

These specially trained DV liaisons assist victims in gaining safety and independence from their abuser, whose control is often financial as well as physical.

The DV liaisons are also a resource for other county governmental divisions, and monitor the contacts of private agencies providing counseling and other non-residential domestic violence services.

*As of January 13, 2015 the Domestic Violence Unit of Erie County will be located on the second floor of the Rath Building, Room 220, at 95 Franklin Street, Buffalo. The unit had previously been located at the Family Justice Center on the 14th floor of 237 Main Street.*

For further information, contact the Domestic Violence Unit at (716) 858-6118. The unit's new fax number is 858-6136.

Your call is confidential.

Domestic Violence Permanent Tribute Will Honor Victims and Celebrate Survivors

ECDSS is part of a community effort to plan for a permanent and public tribute that will honor fallen victims and survivors, while also raising awareness of domestic violence.  The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women is leading this ambitious community effort, entitled “Celebrating Life Through Awareness, Hope & Healing.”  Many community volunteers have come together to develop ideas and plan logistics for the permanent tribute, and suggestions have included a tree grove or garden that would be a “quiet place where one can reflect on the journey and where those who could not make the passage are remembered always for their sacrifice,” according to one committee member.

DSS, Child & Family Services Collaborate on Initiative

In July 2014, it was announced that ECSS would collaborate with Child & Family Services of Erie County on an initiative to improve service delivery to families experiencing both domestic violence and child abuse. Click Here to view Erie County's press release describing the collaborative initiative.

Foster Care & Adoption

When families fail to provide for the safety of their own children, Erie County must remove these children and place them in foster care or with an appropriate relative until the risk to their safety is substantially decreased. Some children are voluntarily placed into foster care by their families, due to an extreme situation. All children placed in foster care have been neglected, abused, or have no one to care for them. As the incidences of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues continue to escalate, more children in our community face the risk of abuse and neglect.

Resource Family Homefinding Unit:

The function of the Resource Family Homefinding Unit is to maintain a constant availability of safe, foster and adoptive home placement resources. This is achieved through ongoing recruitment, identification, training and development of potential foster/adoptive resource families. Prudent evaluation and suitable placement of needy children into foster/adoptive homes is our primary objective.

The Homefinding Team responds to inquiries from interested families providing pertinent information about the application process, necessary training, homestudy development, and the role of being a foster/adoptive parent.

Foster Facts:

Erie County has a need for supportive foster families to temporarily provide hundreds of our most vulnerable children with stable, nurturing homes.

Foster parents must have unlimited compassion for emotionally, and sometimes physically wounded children. Foster parenting is specialized and demanding work, but extremely rewarding.

If you are interested in obtaining information about becoming an Erie County Foster/Adoptive Family, please call us with questions at 858-7274.

If you would like to view a short video regarding becoming a foster parent in Erie County, click play on video below:


Since the majority of foster children eventually return to the care of their parents or a relative, it is essential that all foster parents are able to work with Department staff to achieve the goal of the reunification of families. Foster parents must understand and support the child's attachment to his/her birth family and be open-minded about learning discipline techniques that help traumatized children manage their own behavior.

Training & Support:

All prospective foster and adoptive parents must attend a specialized 30-hour training course known as the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting/Group Preparation and Selection Program [MAPP/GPS] to obtain certification.

Enhanced training:

After certification, enhanced training tailored to specific foster or adoptive parenting needs is available on a continuous basis. Each month, a new in-service program topic is offered. For information on upcoming training sessions, please contact: Registration Coordinator: [716] 858-6868


Ultimately, the Resource Family Homefinding Unit recommends approval or denial of the request for certification. Certification and placement selection always follows current Federal Regulations and NYS Office of Children and Families directives and guidelines.

Accepting a foster child:

After certification is approved, a Homefinding Unit Caseworker will work with newly certified foster parents to determine the age, gender and needs of the children they would feel most comfortable caring for. We share non-identifying medical, social and educational background information with foster parents prior to placement. ECDSS respects all foster parents' assessment of the situation in deciding if they are able to meet the specific needs of the child. The final decision to accept or decline placement of a child is always made by the foster parent.

Factors that we take into consideration for placing a child include:

Financial Support:

Foster parents in Erie County are reimbursed for providing food, clothing and supplies to foster children. This financial reimbursement is not considered taxable income.

The Adoption Option:

Children of all ages need permanent, stable, loving families. The Erie County Department of Social Services [ECDSS] is committed to ensuring that every child will know the love and caring of a permanent family.

Some children become available for adoption through the Department of Social Services when parents determine they are unable to care for their child/children and voluntarily surrender their child/children for adoption. Others become available when their parents are unable to make the necessary changes in their lives to keep their children safe. In those situations, Erie County Family Court may terminate parental rights of the child's parents, freeing the child for adoption. Children who are freed for adoption receive cash management services by caseworkers in adult and specialized services, sometimes in partnership with contract voluntary agencies. In addition to ongoing accountability to family court, caseworkers collaborate with services in mental health, juvenile justice, education, and other systems. Post adoptive services are arranged as needed.

When foster children become available for adoption, they are often adopted by their foster parent(s). Whenever possible, it is generally in a child's best interest for their first placement to be their last placement. Therefore, ECDSS makes a concerted effort to identify families to provide foster care who are also willing to consider adoption. Erie County also offers many kinds of supports to foster parents to help them as needs are identified during the placement.

Adoption Facts:

On average, there are approximately 300 children in Erie County awaiting adoption. Most have a family wanting to adopt them, but more than 50 children are still waiting to be adopted by their new family. These children range in age from 7-15 years old. Many have behavioral difficulties, the result of experiencing the instability of too many years in foster care without the security of a permanent family. Some have learning disabilities or physical disabilities.
There are services and supports to assist adoptive families in their care of these children. One can access and educate themselves to  these resources by linking to

 To obtain the most up to date information about children available for adoption, visit:

These are the children who most need a family to make a commitment to them, love them and guide them to a productive adulthood.

For more information, please call:
Resource Family Homefinding
@ [716] 858-7274

Independent Living Program:

The Independent Living Program [ILP] is a program devoted to providing especially designed services that prepare foster care youth for the challenges and responsibilities of living in an adult world, while ensuring the youth's connection to a significant adult.

Help is available to prepare foster youth to prepare for, apply to, and receive financial aid for college.  Visit the Youth in Care Corner website at OR visit the Higher Education Services Corporation Go College NY website at

What does the Independent Living Program do?

Children who remain in foster care until 21 years of age become eligible for participation in the Independent Living Program, which prepares them for the complexities of living as independent adults. ILP provides various services and creative opportunities to youth in foster care with the goal of independent living for individuals when discharged from foster care. Foster families are included in the planning process throughout.

The Independent Living Program facilitates the following activities:

To obtain further information, please call [716] 858-8721.


Cada mes, aproximadamente 50 ninos en el Condado de Erie son removidos de los hogares de sus padres y son colocados en un Hogar Adoptivo. En un dia cualquiera, mas de 2,300 ninos en el Condado de Erie, viven con familias adoptivas.

Estos ninos en general, son queridos por sus familiares, sin embargo, sus problemas o los de sus padres, son una amenaza para la seguridad de los ninos si permanecen en el hogar familiar. Casi todos los ninos que estan en cuidado adoptivo regresaran a sus padres y familiares, pero hay algunos ninos que necesitan empezar una nueva vida con una familia adoptiva. Amenudo esa familia adoptiva es la misma familia que le provee al nino cuidado adoptivo.

Los ninos y familias adoptivas vienen de toda condicion de vida. Ellos representan todos los grupos etnicos, raciales y religiones. Las edades de los ninos adoptivos son desde infancia a la adolescencia [12 a 13 anos]. Son callados y timidos, sencillos y comicos, atleticos y estudiosos. Algunos aprenderan mas facile y otros mas lentos. A algunos les gusta estar en grupos grandes mientras que otros disfrutan estando solos. En otras palabras, ninos, adoptivos tienan las mismas caracteristicas de todos los ninos. Pero por desgracia, viviendo separados de sus familias no es facile. Ellos extranan su familia y objetos familiares. Necesitan mucha ayuda porque se sienten asustados, solos, tristes y quizas tambien con coraje.

Las familias adoptivas son tan diferentes como los ninos que cuidan; sin embargo, tienen algunos atributos similares. Estas son familias que verdaderamente conocen el valor de la vida de un nino. Ellos son generosos, no tienen prejuicios, son concientes y reconocen los problemas y dificultades a que se enfrentan los ninos bajo su cuidado asi como los familiares. Las familias adoptivas son desinteresadas mientras cuidan y dan carino a los ninos que podran estar con ellos por un corto tiempo o podran estar con ellos por varios anos. Nosotros le recomendamos a ustedes que compartan esos talentos con su nino adoptivo.

Se necesitan hogares adoptivos especialmente para ninos blancos y ninos que hablan Espanol, aquellos que tienen necesidades especiales, ya sea de comportamiento o medico, infantes, pre-escolares y adolescentes.

Sin embargo nos interesa hablar con cualquiera que este interesado en la crianza adoptiva. Padres adoptivos deben hablar ingles.

Para mas informacion, por favor Ilame al [716] 858-7274 de la "Oficina de Encuentra-Hogares" del Departamento de Servicios Sociales del Condado de Erie.

Day Care


95 Franklin Street, Room 449
Buffalo, New York 14202

Phone Number: (716) 858-8953

Hours of Operation:

8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

General Information

*For information regarding the waiting list that will hold all new Child Care Subsidy Program application submissions, effective April 1, 2016, click Here.*

Low-income child care assistance is available to employed families who earn 200 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level. Parents contribute toward the cost of care based on a sliding income scale.

Plans offered:

Child day care assistance is authorized for eligible individuals through a variety of programs outlined below. Each program determines method of payment, required paperwork and who to contact with questions and problems.

For information about child care eligibility, program requirements or questions regarding available providers, please call [716] 858-TYKE [858-8953]

Important Telephone Numbers:

Child Care Resource Network
100 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14216
[716] 877-6666

NYS Office of Children and Family Services
Child Care Licensing and Information
295 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14202
[716] 847-3828

Erie County Day Care Unit
95 Franklin Street, Room 448, Buffalo, New York 14202
[716] 858-8953

Erie County Accounting/Voucher Audit
[716] 858-7694

Erie County Department of Contract Compliance
[716] 858-7203

More Information: