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.
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.
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:  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:
- Location of the foster home
- Child's personality
- Unique/special needs
Foster parents in Erie County are reimbursed for providing food, clothing and supplies to foster children. This financial reimbursement is not considered taxable income.
- Basic board rates for each child range from $448.50-$622.50 per month. Clothing allowances are issued on separate checks as per verified allowable expenses.
- Foster parents who are trained to care for children with special or exceptional needs are provided increased board rates ranging from $673.20 - $1,250.10 per month.
- Child care may also be funded for employed foster parents.
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.
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 http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/adopt/post_adoption/.
To obtain the most up to date information about children available for adoption, visit: http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/Adopt/
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
@  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 OR visit the Higher Education Services Corporation Go College NY website
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:
- ECDSS attends the annual two-day National Independent Living Conference. We take approximately 6-10 youth to represent Erie County at the Youth Leadership portion of the conference.
- Driver Training is provided to youth who have obtained a learners permit to prepare them for their road test. We can also provide the defensive driving course for youth who own a car.
- Collaborates with other agencies to provide a one-day simulation called, 'A taste of independence - discharging from foster care.' Youth have the opportunity to practice acquired skills and discover what additional skills are necessary to complete a successful discharge from foster care.
- Sponsors workshops on various youth-related topics.
- Disperses stipends to ILP youth, 16+ years in the custody of the County.
- The ILP resource room has various materials for teenagers, staff and foster parents including; pamphlets, planners, videos and many other case-specific materials.
To obtain further information, please call  858-8721.
PUEDE USTED AYUDAR?
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  858-7274 de la "Oficina de Encuentra-Hogares" del Departamento de Servicios Sociales del Condado de Erie.