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Frequently Asked Questions

What if my child (under 16) is arrested?

When a Law Enforcement Officer arrests youth under the age of 16, they will be taken to the Detention office at the Family Court Building, 1 Niagara Plaza during business hours for intake processing. If apprehended after business hours the youth will be brought to the Secure Facility for assessment and processing.

  1. Youth will be assessed to determine if appropriate for release with an Appearance Ticket, Southwest Keys Community Monitoring and appropriate community based services.
  2. The youth may be detained in the secure facility to be transported to Family Court the following business day to appear in Family Court regarding his/her charges.
  3. Parents/Guardians contacted when an arrest occurs.
  4. Youth arrested after hours, if not eligible for release, will be detained at the secure facility and transported to the Family Court Building for proceedings the following business day.
What if a Law Enforcement Officer issues my child an Appearance ticket?

A Law Enforcement Officer may issue an Appearance Ticket to a youth for alleged misconduct, answerable at Probation Intake on the Ground Floor of the Family Court Building, 1 Niagara Plaza, Buffalo, 14202. The time and date to appear with their parent/guardians is indicated from the Ticket. The officer will address the ticket and determine if the case is suitable for adjustment.

The youth will be assessed and may be assigned to the Juvenile Delinquency Services to assist in diverting appropriate cases from the court. The worker will refer to community based services and provide appropriate consequences to address delinquent behavior and underlying issues they have dealt with.

The team is comprised of Probation officers, Juvenile Justice Counselors and Mental Health Specialists.

Cases that are legally required and/or involve community/family and individual safety are referred to the County Attorney for consideration of Family Court action.

What if my child (under 18) runs away from home?

A “runaway” is defined as a child under the age of 18 who has left home without permission and without good cause.  The child must be missing for 24 hours and his/her current whereabouts are unknown.

  1. Notify the Police. The parent/guardian must file a missing person's report with their local police department.

    (Children 18 and over do not meet the legal definition of a runaway)
  2. If the child is under the age of 18, has not returned for 24 hours, and you do not know their whereabouts, you may come to the Family Services Team on business days between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for referral for a Family Court Warrant. The Family Court Legal Division will assist parents/guardians in filing a petition to obtain a judge’s signature on the warrant. The warrant is in effect as soon as the Judge signs it. However, some police agencies require up to five days before the information will appear on their computers. Most PINS warrants expire after six months, but if the child is still missing, an extension may be requested.
  3. If your child is brought to Family Court on a warrant, he or she may be released administratively, without a court appearance, after a review of potential risk by Detention Intake. The warrant MUST be answered. The child must be brought to the Erie County Family Court during business hours. A determination will be made at that time whether or not the child may be safely returned home.
  4. If your child is apprehended on the warrant after normal business hours, he/she will be placed at New Directions/Gateway-Lonview non-secure detention program located on the Gateway-Longview campus (6350 Main Street; Williamsville, New York 14221) until the court re-opens. You will be notified by the police or detention facility.
  5. In many cases, when a child is picked up on the warrant, he/she will not be held in detention, but will be released to the family. The family will then be referred to the Family Services Team and an immediate plan of action for the family will be created and agreed to, based upon the specific circumstances/needs of the child and family.

Youth Services/Detention Office, Room 125

One Niagara Plaza

Buffalo, NY 14202

Are you worried about your child's behavior?

Why do some children misbehave?

  • Children are not born socialized, they learn to obey.
  • They learn to respect other people’s rights.
  • They learn to cooperate.
  • Some children are strong willed, have difficult temperaments and/or have special
  • challenges.

This learning takes place:

  1. When they have a close, warm, and confiding relationship with caring adults (parents, grandparents, etc.)
  2. When children know what behavior is acceptable.
  3. When acceptable behavior is consistently approved and rewarded.
  4. When unacceptable behavior is consistently disapproved.
  5. When children take part in educational and recreational activities.

You do not need to worry…

  1. If you child occasionally refuses to comply and is defiant.
  2. If misbehavior happens only occasionally in home or in school.
  3. If you child confides in you and does not steal, tell lies, hit other children, but on occasion, when disciplined, gets angry with you.
  4. If misbehavior follows a traumatic event such as a death in the family, and continues for less than six months.

You should worry about your child’s misbehavior…

  1. If your child is consistently defiant, and refuses to comply and you feel helpless.
  2. If there are frequent complaints from the school about your child’s behavior.
  3. If your child is indulging in stealing, lying and hitting siblings and other children in spite of your efforts to stop the behavior.
  4. If your child insists on playing with matches and has set fires.
  5. If the school indicates your child’s behavior is seriously affecting academic performance.
  6. If your child spends a great deal of time with friends who exhibit unacceptable behaviors.
  7. If unacceptable behaviors continue for more than six months.

What steps should you take if you are worried about your child’s behavior?

  1. Identify the behaviors that you are the most worried about. Make sure others in the family share your concern.
  2. Set up consequences for the negative behaviors in consultation with your partner. These behaviors should be disapproved when displayed. The loss of some privilege, such as not allowing your child to watch a favorite television program, can be used if clear disapproval does not work.
  3. Physical punishment is not the best way to discourage undesirable behavior, and should be avoided.
  4. Notice when your child is behaving well, and let your child know you approve by praising or giving a hug.

For you to succeed, it is essential that:

  1. Other adults in the family (partner, grandparents, etc.) follow the same procedure.
  2. That the same behavior is consistently rewarded or disciplined.

When should you ask for help from outside?

  1. When, despite your best effort, your child continues to misbehave at home and school.
  2. When the misbehavior is getting more serious (not only lying, but also stealing; not only stealing from home, but also stealing from the community).
  3. When your child’s misbehavior is seriously affecting family life (affecting siblings and causing arguments between parents and other adults).
  4. When the school is threatening to suspend, or has suspended your child for misbehavior.
  5. When your child’s academic performance is seriously affected as a result of misbehavior.

What can you do to prevent the development of unacceptable behavior in your child?

  1. Develop a close relationship with your child by encouraging your child to confide in you. Be a good listener. Do not lecture. It seldom helps. Do not be too judgmental.
  2. Children are happy when they know what is acceptable and what is not. Set clear limits for your child and make sure your child understands them. Notice and praise your child when your child does the right thing.
  3. Know your child’s whereabouts.
  4. Know your child’s friends.
  5. Expect that your child will have some difficulties adjusting to changes such as your divorce or remarriage, or the death of a pet. Be extra supportive at these times.


  • Each child is unique. Children differ in temperament. Some are easy to socialize. Others require more patience and greater effort.
  • Your child’s behavior is affected by how you feel. All changes in the family situation affect your child’s behavior.