What are the income limits for the different programs?
Each program has a different income test and some have a resource test.  To find see the guideline for possible eligibility, please go to the following web sites:

Or for a potential assessment using your income and expenses, go to:  http://www.mybenefits.ny.gov This website will look at your eligibility for Food Assistance, Heating Assistance, Child Care Assistance, Earned Income Tax Credit, School Lunch Program and WIC.

My benefit card isn't working, what do I do?
Call 716-278-8400 or you can log into https://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/ebt/ for complete information about benefit cards. 
I lost my benefit card, how do I get a new one?
Call 716-278-8400 to arrange for a replacement card.
Am I charged a fee when I use my card at an ATM?
For information about obtaining cash benefits without a surcharge call 1-800-289-6739.
What office do I go to for an application for benefits and where is the office located?
There are 2 main offices serving applicants:
  • Niagara Falls—301 – 10th Street, Niagara Falls (at the intersection of 10th and Falls streets) for cash, HEAP and SNAP.
  • Lockport—20 East Avenue, Lockport (across the street from the Library) for cash, HEAP and Medicaid.
How do I apply for heating assisstance?
First-time recipients can apply for HEAP by first contacting 716-278-8400.
However, if you are already receiving HEAP, other factors may apply.
  • If the head of the household is over 60 or disabled and you have not received     HEAP benefits this year, call the Office for the Aging at 716-438-4020.

  • If you have already received a Regular benefit for this HEAP season and now have an emergency, call 716-278-8400.

  • If you are currently receiving Temporary Assistance call your TA worker
  • If you are currently receiving SNAP (Food Stamps) and have not received a regular benefit call your SNAP worker.  If you have received a regular benefit and now have an emergency, call 716-278-8400.
  • If you do not receive TA or SNAP and the head of household is not over 60 or disabled, call 716-278-8400.
    • Applications can also be electronically completed on the internet at:
How do I report child abuse or neglect?
Reports of child abuse and neglect should be made IMMEDIATELY at any time by calling 1-800-342-8720. Experts are available to discuss the situation with you even if you are not sure about the problem. Reports must be registered with the Hotline for CPS to investigate.
Who are mandated reporters?
Everyone has a moral obligation to alert authorities about possible child abuse. A number of professions are required by New York State law to perform mandatory reporting. These “mandated reporters” can be held liable by both the civil and criminal legal systems for intentionally failing to make a report Mandated reporters are required to report instances of suspected child abuse or maltreatment only when they are presented with reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment in their professional roles. MANDATED REPORTERS CALL 1-800-635-1522.

The professions include anyone who works for a social services agency,  social workers, anyone in law enforcement, physicians, nurse, surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, licensed creative arts therapists, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, podiatrists, medical examiners, coroners, osteopaths, optometrists, residents, interns, physician’s assistants, psychologists, mental health professionals,  substance abuse counselors,  alcoholism counselors,  district attorneys, school officials,  Christian Science practitioners, hospital personnel, any employees or volunteers in a residential care program for youth, day care workers, emergency medical technicians, and many others. The list is updated occasionally so please check the OCFS website for the latest additions.

What happens when I make a report?
The SCR assigns the report to the CPS unit of jurisdiction and a caseworker begins the investigation within 24 hours, including an evaluation of the safety of every child involved. CPS has 60 days to determine whether the report is “indicated” or “unfounded.” For further information on CPS reports, go to the FAQ section of the State website at http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/prevention/. Remember that results of the report are confidential, even to the reporter.
What is the legal age a child has to be to be left alone?
Although there is no specific age listed in the law, parents and guardians are required to use good judgment to make intelligent, reasoned decisions in these matters. It is their primary job to make sure children are not left at risk or in danger!
All children develop at their own rate, according to their needs and abilities. Parents need to recognize these factors before leaving them alone.

Some children are responsible and smart enough to be left alone at 12 years old. However, there are teenagers who are too irresponsible to be left alone for a minute. For a handy checklist of factors to consider, visit http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/prevention/faqs.asp#supervision.

Is there such a thing as Adult Abuse?
Adult abuse is the mistreatment of an impaired adult, age 18 and older, who may be dependent on someone else for basic needs. Some of the signs of abuse are unexplained injuries, sudden decrease of financial resources, and sudden change in mood or behavior.
What can I do to stop adult abuse?
You can report suspected abuse by contacting Niagara County Protective Services for Adults (PSA) at 278-8621. For emergencies or after-hour and weekend calls, contact local law enforcement or 911. PSA has the legal responsibility to investigate alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation of impaired adults and take action.
How do I become a foster parent?
We are ALWAYS in need of foster parents. If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, you can call 278-8702 or 439-7860 . Outside of Niagara County, call (800) 345-KIDS.
How do I adopt a child?
The legal process of adopting, from application to finalization, can be a lengthy one. It may take six months or more from the time you apply before a child is placed in your home; it will take at least three to twelve months after that before the adoption may be finalized in court.

Families must first choose an agency so they can get certified as an adoptive family. Choosing an agency is a very important step. Talk to different agencies and adoptive parents or parent support groups to learn how the agencies work with prospective adoptive parents. It is very difficult to change agencies once the adoption process has begun. For more information or qualifications, call:

New York State Adoption Service: 1-800-345-KIDS / (1-800-345-5437)

Much more information can be obtained by calling 278-8702 or 439-7860

Can I get help with child care expenses?
If you are a single parent or two-parent family with both parents working outside the home, you may be eligible for Daycare Assistance. To apply, call 439-7656 to have an application packet mailed to you. You can also pick one up at any of the NCDSS offices. For a listing of daycare providers in your area, you may contact the Community Child Care Clearing House by calling 1-800-701-4543 or 285-8572.
Who is eligible for child support?
Child support enforcement services are automatically provided to all custodial parents who receive temporary and safety net assistance unless cooperation with the child support agency may result in physical or emotional harm to the custodial parent or child.

Child support services are provided upon application to all other eligible individuals, including parents, guardians or caretakers of children who do not receive temporary or safety net assistance.

How do I get a child support order?
An order for child support is issued by a Court. In order to obtain an order of support, a petition must be filed with the appropriate Court where you reside. The Child Support Unit can assist you in preparing and filing a Petition for Support. Please contact 1-888-208-4485.
I have an order of support against the absent parent, but he/she is not paying.
The Support Collection Unit has the ability to investigate the employment status of any person. If the person is found to have an employer, we will have the support obligation deducted directly from the person’s pay check and send it to you.
The Support Collection Unit also has numerous enforcement tools to force the absent parent to pay their support. These tools include driving license suspension, property execution, seizure of tax refunds, etc.

The support Collection Unit can assist you in the filing of a violation petition. The violation petition can ask the Court to incarcerate any person found willfully failing to pay support ordered by the Court.

Even if the absent parent is not in New York State, the Support Collection can assist you in obtaining a support order or enforcing an existing support order regardless where the absent parent resides. We can also assist you even though the absent parent is not in the United States.

Call to report non-payment and non-compliance 1-888-208-4485.

What is fraud?
Fraud is any misuse of benefits, any misrepresentation by an applicant, or information that the client intentionally withholds from the Social Services agency to wrongfully qualify for assistance.
How do I report fraud in Niagara County?
Fraud can be reported via walk-in, telephone (716-439-7788)e-mail or by postage mail to either the Social Services agency or through a Fraud Investigator at the Niagara County Sheriff's Department at 716-438-3340 and 716-438-3314.  In the event of an emergency, call the 24-hour line at 716-438-3393. When filing a complaint, you can choose to remain anonymous.
What do I do if I have a  concern pertaining to the Department?
We would request that you put in writing your concern being as specific as possible, including your name, address and phone number.  Information that identifies who you have contacted at the department and services that you were inquiring about or applying for should be included.

Your letter should be sent to the Commissioner’s office: P.O. Box 506 Lockport, New York 14095-0506.  You will receive a written acknowledgment of receipt of your letter.  Upon review, you will be contacted by the department pertaining to your inquiry.

How do I apply for a position at the Niagara County Department of Social Services?
In order to qualify for a majority of our positions, you would be required to take a Civil Service examination and qualify to be on a Civil Service list.  We recommend that you regularly refer to the Niagara County Civil Service website https://niagara-portal.mycivilservice.com for information on when examinations will be administered.