Family Safety & Stabilization Assistance

Our Family Safety & Stabilization programs aim to provide families the guidance, support and skills they need to feel secure, empowered and confident in their family decisions and dynamics.

Domestic Violence Programs

Domestic Violence Program for Men

Get Help

Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Program for Men (DVPM) works for social, gender and racial justice change at the local and national level. The program holds male domestic violence offenders (ages 18+) accountable in conjunction with the mandating agent for acts of domestic violence against an intimate female partner. It is available across all eight counties of Western New York.

More info

Men who are mandated to attend by the courts, probation, parole, child protective services or other agents of the court will be required to attend an orientation appointment, followed by attendance to a weekly group session for a minimum of 26 sessions. At the discretion of the criminal and civil justice system, or agents of the courts, men may be ordered to complete a mandate of 26, 40 or 52 sessions based on the seriousness of the offense committed.
Men can voluntarily self refer and attend the program for a minimum of 26 weekly sessions.
Fees are set on a sliding scale based on income and number of dependents. Fee payment is required at the time service is received.

Caring Dads

Get Help

Caring Dads is a group intervention program for men who have abused, neglected, or exposed their children to domestic abuse. The program is intended to offer information to men in the program, that if they so choose, can use to father their child(ren) in ways that meet the emotional and development needs of the child.

Caring Dads works to complement existing efforts to end men’s use of violence, and is intended to be used along with domestic violence or intimate partner violence programs. Caring Dads works in collaboration with other community-based organizations with the goal of addressing men’s violence against women. It is critically important that men attend and complete the Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Program for Men as required by the court or agent of the court.

More info

The program consists of 17 weekly group sessions currently held virtually on Zoom. Group sessions are open enrolled, so men can begin the program at any point after completing 5 sessions of DVPM. Fees are set on a sliding scale based on income and number of dependents. Fee payment is required at the time of service. The program is available across all eight counties of Western New York, in conjunction with the DVPM.

Women’s Healing & Empowerment Services

Get Help

An experienced advocate will work with each woman to guide, coach, mentor and support her while providing resources, referrals, advocacy, information and education in a way that is personalized to her situation. We will remind each survivor of her strength and ability to keep herself, her children, pets and loved ones safe while offering Transitional Advocacy and Support during this difficult time of complex change. Women’s Healing & Empowerment Services (WHES) is available in Erie County. To be connected with WHES, please call (716) 368-0591 or (716) 835-6894 weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Family Safety & Support Programs

Kinship Caregiver Program

Get Help

Kinship care is the full-time nurturing and protection of children by relatives who have a kinship bond with children when they have been separated from their biological parents.

Catholic Charities Kinship Caregiver Programs, offered in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, can help families locate resources in their community and offer personal assistance navigating the challenges of becoming the primary caregiver of another family member’s child/children (for example: grandparent caring for granddaughter/son).

We also offer support groups for kinship families, YMCA family memberships for those who participate in the group activities regularly, and youth groups/family fun nights.

Services provided for both counties:

  • Support groups for kinship caregivers and children: Separate groups are offered for children and caregivers to provide support and engagement between group members.
  • Outreach: Respite opportunities for caregivers and their children, retreats, and other fun events to promote family connections.
  • Advocacy: To provide active support; and promote rights of the caregiver and child(ren).
  • Case Management: Organize services for the family.
  • Assessment and Referral to Family Counseling: Help and support to the family as a whole and for each member.
  • Parenting education: Referrals or in-home guidance related to parenting issues.
  • Referral and linkage: Assistance with connecting to other community resources, including legal, financial and human services.

Eligibility for Cattaraugus County program:

  • Children must primarily live with a relative caregiver and be TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Supplement Security Income (SSI) eligible.​ Children living with a non-parent relative caregiver are eligible to receive a “child-only” TANF grant, regardless of the caregiver’s income.
  • Arrangements made with the child’s parents are acceptable. Children do not need to be in court-ordered legal arrangements such as permanent or temporary custody, guardianship or kinship foster care.

Eligibility for Allegany County Program:

  • Children do not need to be in court-ordered legal arrangements
  • Have formal or informal custody of the relative child/children
  • Caregivers cannot receive KinGap

There is no cost for services and home visits can be made if caregivers are unable to come to our offices. To connect with the Allegany County program, contact Danielle Kielar at (716) 372-0101 or (716) 378-7062 or at danielle.kielar@ccwny.org. To connect with the Cattaraugus County program, contact Jennifer Norton at (716) 372-0101 or 701-330-6969 or at jennifer.norton@ccwny.org.

Multisystemic Therapy

Get Help

Multisystemic Therapy, or MST, is designed to help youth ages 12 to 17 (*10-17 years old in Niagara County) who are experiencing chronic problematic behaviors, such as truancy, verbal and/or physical aggression, running away and criminal activity. The goal of MST is to set the youth on track for success and to give caregivers the tools they need to navigate any future relapses.

MST is facilitated by master’s-level therapists who work with families in their home, school and community multiple times a week to achieve positive changes. Treatment is intensive and typically lasts about 3 to 5 months. Our therapists’ schedules are flexible to ensure that they can meet around the caregivers’ availability, as well as provide support during times of need. Additionally, therapists offer an on-call service, which provides seamless support 24 hours, 7 days a week.

For more information, please call Jenelle Hamill, LMHC, MST program coordinator, at (716) 597-0756 ext. 2252.

Our Kids Parent Education & Awareness Program (OKPEAP)

Get Help

The Our Kids Parent Education and Awareness Program is designed for any parent or guardian who wants to reduce conflict and parent effectively for their children. Parents or guardians can be referred by Family or the local Supreme Court, by another provider, or families can self refer.

Topics covered include the following:

  • Impact of separation/divorce on children
  • Child development and implications for parenting after separation/divorce
  • “Cooperative” and “parallel” approaches to co-parenting
  • Family law overview as it affects custody and visitation
  • Impact of conflict on children
  • Conflict management and problem-solving

For more information or to begin the registration process, call (716) 896-6390. Zoom classes are available to residents of all eight counties of Western New York.

Parenting Programs

Incredible Years

Get Help

The Incredible Years Parenting Program is an interactive 14-week, evidenced-based program that assists parents and caregivers to develop nurturing and positive relationships with their children, use effective discipline, and understand the developmental needs of children.

The program uses videos, group discussion, role plays, a textbook and home activities to boost a parent’s ability to understand and respond to their child’s needs, and to create or maintain a healthy, safe and nurturing relationship with children. Weekly phone check-ins offer ongoing support. Individualized prenatal, postnatal, and parenting education is available via virtual or office visits.

The program is free to parents referred by Erie County Department of Social Services. Transportation assistance is also available to these clients. The program can be provided free to young or first-time parents who meet eligibility criteria. There is a fee for parents who are not referred through Erie County that is based on a sliding scale.

Incredible Years is funded by a grant from the Erie County Department of Social Services. For more information or to register, please call (716) 896-6390.

Young Parents Program

Get Help

The Young Parents Program provides education and support to pregnant and/or parenting individuals ages 12 to 25 residing in Erie County. Individualized prenatal, postnatal, and parenting education is available via Zoom. This parenting support service is designed for first-time or young parents who need assistance with newborn and infant care skills and parenting skills, before and after the child is born.

A social worker will work one-on-one with clients and tailor the program to fit their needs. Parents may choose to focus on topics such as infant care, nutrition, establishing routines, parental stress management, infant massage and much more.

For more information or to register, please call (716) 896-6390.

Young Parents is funded through a grant from the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation and Catholic Charities.

Preventive Services Programs

Preventive Services

Get Help

Preventive Services provides family counseling, networking and teaming with resources in families where children are at high risk for placement outside the home because of neglect and/or abuse. Also, families are assisted to focus on child safety, timely child permanency and child well-being.

In Erie County

Referrals to this home-based preventive services program are only through the Erie County Department of Social Services. Self-referrals are not available. Services are offered to families with safety risks for children, and have a goal of safety, permanency and well-being for children at risk of foster care placement. Specialized preventive services are offered to families with children temporarily placed with relatives. Call (716) 854-3622 ext.2230 for more information.

Preventive Services Kinship

Get Help

The Preventive Services Kinship program serves Erie County families involved with the child welfare system by placing children under the care of relatives. All families must be referred through the Erie County Department of Social Services.

Our staff conducts home visits to observe family interactions and provide referrals, as well as offers counseling and support for caregivers and biological parents in attaining child permanency, including filing for benefits and petitions in family court.

Our staff is trained to work with families where children have been removed from the natural home and placed in kinship care.

Additional Resources for Families

Erie County Department of Social Services
478 Main St.
Hens & Kelly Building
Buffalo, New York 14202
(716) 858-8000

Neighborhood Legal Services
Grandparent Advocacy Program
237 Main Street, 4th Floor
Buffalo, New York 14203
(716) 847-0650

NYS Kinship Navigator
Tel: 1-877-454-6463

AARP
Tel: 1-888-687-2277

Central Referral
Tel: 716-851-5555

Refugee Preventive Services

Get Help

The Preventive Services Refugee Program assists refugee families in Erie County involved in the child welfare system. Our staff conducts home visits with the parents/caretakers and the children, with the aid of interpreters through the International Institute or Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program, to ensure that parents receive the message in their native language.

Child permanency, safety and well-being are the goals in working with the biological parents, and kinship/foster parents if and when there is an out-of-home placement.

Support for parents includes family counseling, networking and linking families with appropriate resources.

More Info

The Catholic Charities staff has been trained to specifically work with refugee families to better understand their respective cultures and ensure sensitivity to their beliefs and traditions.

Referrals for home-based refugee preventive services come directly from the Erie County Department of Social Services. Families cannot self refer.

Services are offered to families with safety risks for children, and have a goal of safety, permanency and well-being for children at risk of foster care placement.

Please call (716) 854-3622 ext.2230 for more information.

Visitation Programs

Parent/Child Access Program

Get Help

This service is for divorced, unmarried or separated families who are typically referred by the Family or Supreme Court. Based on court order the program can provide Therapeutic Supervised Visitation or Monitored Exchanges.

Visitation provides children with a safe, secure and healing environment where they can have contact with their non-custodial parent. Typically, these are families with allegations and/or a history of mental illness, physical/emotional abuse, alcohol or chemical dependency, low parent skill or a risk of abduction, and where the court has determined that supervision is required.

Exchanges provides a neutral drop-off and pick-up service that allows children to have safe transitions for scheduled access time. This is a service for families where safe child access to a parent is jeopardized because of existing orders of protection, domestic violence and/or high parental conflict.

A sliding fee scale is available. Please call (716) 896-6390 for more information.

Therapeutic Supervised Visitation

Get Help

A service to assist children and their parent(s) toward the goal of permanency and family reunification by providing a safe, secure and healing environment where children can have contact with their parents. Three levels of supervision are offered: therapeutic, supportive and step-out community visitation.

Referrals are from the Erie County Department of Social Services only. There is no fee. Please call (716) 896-6390 for more information.

Foster Care and Adoption Resources

Foster Parents

Get Help

Note: Catholic Charities does not provide foster care or adoption services.

The following resources may be helpful as you begin the journey to become a foster care parent:

Erie County Foster Care Agencies – AFFCNY

Foster Care Agencies in New York State – AFFCNY

Adoption Agencies in New York State – AFFCNY

Adoption Star is the only private adoption agency in our region.

Adoptees

Get Help

Note: Catholic Charities does not provide adoption services.

Adoptees looking for their original NYS Birth Certificate:
In January of 2019, New York State law changed to allow adoptees to access their original birth certificate. This document is valuable to adoptees interested in researching their family history because it will provide the adoptee’s birth name and the name of the birth mother and possibly the birth father (if reported). The Birth Certificate is ONLY available from New York State. Please click the link below to be redirected to the New York State Department of Vital Statistics to learn how to order an original adoptee birth certificate. Please note that only the adoptee or a direct descendent of the adoptee is eligible to apply, and those details are provided on the site.

More Info

Obtaining Original (Pre-Adoption) Birth Certificate for Adoptees – New York State Department of Health (ny.gov)

Adoptees looking for their adoption records:
Adoption Records in NYS continue to be sealed by state law. The only way to access adoption records is via the New York State Adoption Registry, which serves as a clearinghouse. Please click the link below to read about what non-identifying information is potentially available to you. You may download and complete the Adoption Registry forms, have them notarized, and return them to the NYS Adoption Registry (not Catholic Charities). The Registry will confirm the agency involved in your adoption and will send a letter authorizing the agency to research your records and release to you a report of non-identifying information. This report will include any available information in the record pertaining to birth parent age, physical characteristics, level of education, employment (if applicable), hobbies and interests, and medical history. It is important to recognize that information in the record is largely self-reported by the birth parent, and is often very limited, especially for older records.

Adoption Information Registry – New York State Department of Health (ny.gov)

Adoptees looking for their birth family:
The NYS Adoption Registry is able to connect adoptees, birth parents, and birth siblings under certain circumstances. When registering with the Registry, each party may choose to give consent to release contact information to birth family members. If two or more parties register and offer their consent, the Adoption Registry will disclose contact information directly to family members.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo is prohibited by law from disclosing this information under any circumstances. 

Many people have reported that they have been able to locate birth family members using a DNA service such as Ancestry.com or 23andme. Catholic Charities does not endorse either service, however, offers this information as a potential tool for your search. There are also individuals and companies willing to search on your behalf, however, you should always be wary of disclosing personal information.

For Family Members of Adoptees:
If you are a direct descendent of the adoptee, then you may be eligible with proper documentation to obtain the adoptee’s original NYS birth certificate. Please refer to that site for details.

If you would like to make health information available to your biological child who was adopted, you may do so by writing to the NYS Adoption Registry. Please go to that site for details. Catholic Charities is unable to add additional information to closed case files.

If you are a family member of an adoptee, you are not eligible to request adoption records from the NYS Adoption Registry. Please go to that site for details.