Foster Care / Preventive

Empowering Families

Our purpose is to empower families to become self-sufficient while ensuring child safety and family preservation.

Preventive Services

The purpose of Preventive Services is to prevent out-of-home placements of children. Families work with Preventive Services on a voluntary basis or services can be court ordered through Family Court. A Caseworker is assigned to the family and conducts an assessment to identify service needs and to create a service plan.


Caseworkers work with families to put specific services in place to address the identified issues. The Department has a specialized Caseworker dedicated to working with single adults, pregnant and/or parenting teens and families who present as homeless in order to assist with obtaining permanent housing and in order to ensure the needs of their children are met.

Foster Care Services

Foster Care is a temporary living situation for children who would be unsafe due to their caretaker’s or their own behavior if they remained in their family homes. Every effort is made to implement a safe plan that permits the child to remain in the home or with a relative before a foster care placement is considered.

Caseworkers & Families

The agency certifies local families to foster children in need of a safe home. When the needs of children are too challenging to be met in a foster home, children are placed in therapeutic foster homes, group homes or residential centers operated by private agencies. Caseworkers engage families and children to implement plans to move toward reunification or other permanency.

Elmcrest Family Support Program

The Elmcrest Family Support Program provides services to children in foster care and their families which are designed to protect children, reduce trauma, engage families and provide a discharge/permanency plan that can be achieved in the shortest amount of time possible.


The success of this model rests in the ability of Cortland County DSS and Elmcrest to develop and maintain a partnership that has a shared focus and commitment for the best outcomes for children.


Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) Diversion Services 

Probation and a DSS Senior Caseworker collaborate to provide PINS Diversion Services. Prior to a case being opened, parents who come to the PINS Diversion Office to file a PINS complaint must attend a Pre-PINS Parent Orientation session.

Services & Requirements

Here the parent learns about PINS Diversion services, the requirements for the program and what other services are available in the community. Respite Services for up to 21 days can be provided to families as an alternative to actual foster care placement when a brief separation between the youth and parent is necessary.

Adoption Services

Adoption Services for the Department are provided through a contract with Catholic Charities of Cortland County. Once a child is legally freed for adoption, the child’s case is transferred to the Adoption Caseworker.

Post-Adoption Help for Families | Adoption Services | OCFS (


The Caseworker is responsible for working with potential adoptive families, law guardians, attorneys, family and surrogate courts as well as various service providers. When a family is ready to adopt a child and paperwork is completed, the family’s attorney prepares a petition for adoption that is filed in Surrogate Court. The matter is then scheduled in Surrogate Court for Finalization.