erie county social servicesThe mission of the Erie County Department of Social Services is to provide those in need with effective assistance and services to create a better future for the people of Erie County.

This guide will go in-depth to explain to you all of the various aspects of Erie County Social Services, including the resources it provides and ways that it can assist you.

There are several resources available to you through the Department of Social Services, such as employment opportunities, affordable housing, financial assistance, and adoption services.

If you’re interested in learning more by receiving Social Services’ monthly newsletter, you can sign up here.


Who Does Social Services Help?


Men, women, and children in a variety of circumstances are eligible to receive assistance from the Erie County Department of Social Services. Many programs within Social Services seek to assist those in need, whether they need help finding a job, assistance with domestic violence, are unable to afford groceries, or even need help with affording to heat their home.

If you’re in need, the Erie County Department of Social Services will try to help.


Employment and Finance


The Comprehensive Employment Division of the Erie County Department of Social Services coordinates Workfare assignments and provides assessments, job skills training, daycare services, and substance abuse treatment monitoring for Temporary Assistance clients and Non-Temporary Assistance SNAP recipients.

The CED develops job openings and places clients in the necessary skills training. Clients deemed unemployable are referred by the CED to rehabilitation services instead.


PIVOT: The Wage Subsidy Program


PIVOT, or Placing Individuals in Vital Opportunity Training, is a wage subsidy program developed to meet the hiring needs of local employers by paying the wages of PIVOT participants for a six-month training period. Once the six months are up, participants become permanent employees with the companies and are provided with ongoing support by PIVOT.

Multi-Abuse Assessment Team (MAAT)


The Multi-Abuse Assessment Team is responsible for the oversight of clients with drug/alcohol problems. MAAT counselors hold four key responsibilities:


●      Assess clients who are suspected of drug or alcohol problems

●      Provide referrals to treatment providers

●      Monitor treatment progress

●      Place clients in suitable jobs or job training


Providing Young Adults with Summer Jobs


In partnership with local agencies, the SYEP connects young adults aged 14-20 with employers to provide an influential summer working experience. Participants are placed in entry-level positions in industries such as hospitality, food service, retail, and manufacturing.

In addition to job placement, SYEP offers educational and skills training, along with workshops on job preparedness and financial literacy.


Cash Assistance


Erie County’s Department of Social Services provides eligible individuals with temporary cash assistance to enable them to pay for expenses related to their basic needs. Temporary Assistance is broken into two programs, Family Assistance and Safety Net Assistance.


Family Assistance


Family Assistance (FA) operates under the guidelines of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and provides financial help to eligible families with a minor child in their custody.

Adults are only eligible to receive assistance from FA for a total of 60 months throughout their lifetime, at which point they will no longer be able to receive Family Assistance. Additionally, any adult receiving FA who is deemed able to work must comply with federal work requirements.


Safety Net Assistance


Safety Net Assistance (SNA) provides financial assistance to eligible individuals and families who are not eligible for Family Assistance.


This includes:


●      Single adults

●      Childless couples

●      Children living on their own

●      Families of people abusing drugs or alcohol

●      Aliens who are eligible for temporary assistance


Typically, one can only receive SNA for up to 2 years in their lifetime. If after 2 years you’re still eligible for SNA, you will receive it in the form of direct payments to your landlord or utility company, rather than cash payments. Just like with FA, any adult receiving SNA who is deemed able to work must comply with federal work requirements.


Applying for Food Stamps With SNAP


SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps low-income workers, disabled persons, senior citizens, and others in need to feed their families by issuing an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card for food purchases.

Eligibility and benefits are dependent on various factors, such as income and household size. Foods such as produce, bread, meats, and dairy products can all be purchased through SNAP. Ineligible items include alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot foods, and non-food products such as household supplies and vitamins.


Eat Smart New York (ESNY)


An exciting benefit of the SNAP program is that all qualifying individuals receive free and unlimited access to Eat Smart New York, an educational program that seeks to teach about meal planning, food safety, healthy cooking, and more.

Through ESNY, educators meet with participants either in group settings or one-on-one. Classes can be taught at individual households, food pantries, senior centers, and other communal settings, based on the needs of the participants.


Can I Get Expedited Benefits?


In exigent circumstances, households can be deemed eligible for expedited benefits. In these cases, they receive expedited SNAP benefits within 5 calendar days from the date of application submission.

There is no special application for expedited SNAP benefits, all regular SNAP applications are screened immediately for emergency eligibility. Receiving expedited SNAP benefits does not automatically enroll you in monthly benefits, the regular application must still be followed.

This means that a representative may contact you to verify your information and if you don’t follow through, you will no longer continue to receive SNAP benefits.


EBT and SNAP: Are They the Same?


This is a common source of confusion, as the SNAP program utilizes Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for participants to purchase food with. EBT is not the same as SNAP, it is simply the method by which individuals can purchase products using the government benefits issued through SNAP.


Are College Students Eligible for SNAP?


College students can be eligible for SNAP, provided that they meet the income requirements and meet at least one of the following criteria:


●      Employed for an average of 20 hours per week

●      Participating in a state or federally funded work-study program during the school year

●      Providing more than half of the care for at least one dependent household member under the age of 6, or 12 if no appropriate child care is available

●      Receiving unemployment benefits (UIB)

●      Enrolled in higher education full-time while also having sole responsibility for a child under 12


What is an ABAWD?


ABAWD, or Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents, refers to someone who has no dependents, is not disabled, and is between the ages of 18 and 49. If an ABAWD is not working a minimum of 80 hours per month, participating in qualifying education for at least 80 hours per month, or complying with a workfare program, then they are only eligible to receive SNAP benefits for a total of 3 months in any 36 months.





Health and Housing Services


Long-Term Care


CASA, an agency under the Division of Long-Term Care, is responsible for determining the necessity of Medicaid Long-Term Care services and developing care plans for elderly and/or disabled individuals.


To be eligible for CASA, you must meet the following requirements:


●      A resident of Erie County

●      Financially eligible for New York State Medicaid

●      Have a medical order from a physician to indicate the need for home care


Not sure if you’re eligible for Medicaid? Follow this link for information on how to apply.


A Bridge Between Healthcare Plans


COBRA, or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, is a federal law that provides a bridge between healthcare plans for workers and their immediate families when their insurance might be cut off otherwise. Under COBRA, qualified workers are guaranteed the right to continue their family or former employer’s health plan at their own expense for up to 18 months. To be eligible for COBRA, you must have worked for an employer with over 75 employees and meet specific guidelines.


Medicaid Managed Care


Medicaid Managed Care provides eligible individuals with access to health plans that provide a variety of services, including primary physician services, CDPAP, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, inpatient healthcare, and emergency services.

There is no cost to enroll and any individual who is Medicaid-eligible must utilize this program unless they are determined to be exempt or excluded. Services such as dental or pharmaceutical are provided separately through the traditional Medicaid system.


Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)


The mission of HEAP, a federally-funded program, is to assist low-income families with their heating assistance. This may involve any one of the following heating methods:


●      Electricity

●      Oil

●      Corn

●      Propane

●      Natural gas

●      Wood

●      Kerosene


If you require proper heating in your home and are unable to afford it on your own, HEAP may be able to help. To apply for HEAP, you must be income-eligible, have identification for all household members, and be able to supply proof of residency and vendor relationship with a heating company.


In addition to assisting with heat services, HEAP can also help provide cooling assistance during the summer months to eligible households. If eligible, HEAP will provide the purchase and installation of either a fan or an air conditioner to cool your home.


Legal and Protective Services


The Department of Social Services provides a wide variety of legal and protective services to help protect adults and children in a multitude of situations.


Services offered include:


●      Child support enforcement

●      Fraud reporting (Welfare, Medicaid, HEAP, daycare)

●      Legal advocacy for the disabled

●      Fair hearing requests

●      Consumer protection complaints

●      Child protective services

●      Adult protective services

●      Domestic violence services

●      Foster care and adoption services


Children’s Services


The Children’s Services division of the Department of Social Services works to support families based on their individual needs. When a family requires Children’s Services, the first step is often Preventive Services.


The goals of Preventive Services are to:


●      Help keep children in their homes

●      Enable foster children to return home

●      Help reduce the chances of former foster children having to return to the foster care system.


Child Protective Services is the division of Children’s Services responsible for ensuring that children are safe from abuse or neglect in their homes. If a child is deemed unsafe in their home, they may be placed outside of the home until a determination can be made regarding the likelihood of future neglect. Teachers, hospital workers, law enforcement officers, and social workers are required to report any suspected child abuse or neglect, but anyone can file a report if they believe a child is in danger.


When a home is no longer suitable for a child, Erie County is obligated to step in and place them either in foster care or with a relative until the risk to the child has diminished. All of the children in the foster care system have either been abused, neglected, or unfortunately have no legal guardian to take care of them.


Fostering a child is extremely rewarding work and requires someone compassionate, patient, and understanding. An important aspect of fostering a child is understanding that in many cases, reunification with the child’s birth family is the goal.

Foster parents are reimbursed for expenses related to the child and are required to undergo training and receive a certification to ensure that the child will be well taken care of.


Adult Services


The Adult Services division of the Department of Social Services exists to protect individuals who are 18 years or older, whose circumstances make them vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or exploitation of any kind.

Adult Services can assist those in need with connecting to services such as home improvement, health services, senior services, and residential placement. All adults, regardless of income, are eligible to take advantage of Adult Services.

Any concerned friend, family member, or professional who observes an individual having difficulty providing for their basic needs can and should contact Adult Services.


Adult Protective Services, a category within the Adult Services division, is responsible for providing services to impaired adults in Erie County. To be deemed in need of Adult Protective Services, an individual must meet the following criteria:


●      Physically or mentally impaired

●      In need of protection from harm because they are unable to protect themselves

●      Have no one available to responsibly help them


One example of an instance when Adult Protective Services would intervene would be when referred by a bank teller who witnesses an elderly person withdraw an unusually large sum of money without any explanation.

Adults have the right to make their own decisions and, in most cases, can choose to either accept or refuse these services. In some cases, however, the Erie County Department of Social Services is obligated to step in to ensure the safety of an individual, regardless of whether or not they willingly accept the help. For more information or to make a referral, you can contact Adult Services at (716) 858-6877.


Office Locations and Application Information


Comprehensive Employment Division (CED)


Office Location:


290 Main St. – 10th Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202


Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM


To apply to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), applications can be sent to the Comprehensive Employment Division.


Foster Care & Adoption/Child Protective Services


Office Location:


2875 Union Rd.

Ste. 356

Cheektowaga, NY 14227


Contact for Foster Care & Adoption: (716) 858-7274


Contact for CPS: (716) 858-1665




To report welfare fraud, contact (716) 858-1886 or file a complaint form.


To report Medicaid fraud, contact (717) 858-4639 or file your complaint electronically.




Office Location:


460 Main St. – 2nd Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202


Contact: (716) 858-7644


Applications can be submitted online or in-person.


Legal Advocacy for the Disabled


The LAD is dedicated to assisting low-income individuals with the SSA’s Disability application process.


Office Location:


Legal Advocacy for the Disabled

95 Franklin St. – 11th Floor, Room 1130

Buffalo, NY 14202


Hours of Operation: M – F, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Contact: (716) 858-2270




Office Location:


Erie County Work Center

158 Pearl Street

Buffalo, NY 14202


Hours of Operation: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Contact: (716) 858-6244


For applicants over 65 or disabled, the Access NY Healthcare application form DOH-4220 can be sent to the above address.


For applicants under 65 and not disabled, you can apply online.


Multi-Abuse Assessment Team (MAAT)


Office Location:


158 Pearl St. – Room 210

Buffalo, NY 14202


Hours of Operation: 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM *by appointment only*

Contact: (716) 858-1319




Office Location:


290 Main St. – 10th Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202




To apply for SNAP, an application must be filled out and sent to the following:


Erie County Department of Social Services

Attn: SNAP Division

PO Box 120

Buffalo, NY 14201


Social Services


Office Location:


Department of Social Services

95 Franklin St. – 8th Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202


Contact: (716) 858-8000


Temporary Assistance


Office Location:


Erie County Work Center

158 Pearl Street – 1st Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202


Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Contact: (716) 858-8000


To apply for assistance, fill out an LDSS-2921 form and bring it to the office or mail it in to:



PO Box 120

Buffalo, NY 14201-9903