Attorneys for Children

The Attorneys for Children of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo are appointed to represent children in Family Court proceedings.

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The Attorneys for Children (AFC) Unit of the Legal Aid Bureau provides legal representation and counsel to the majority of children in Erie County who are abused, neglected, in foster care, or involved in the juvenile justice system as Juvenile Delinquents (JD’s) or Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS).

Representing clients ranging in age from newborns to age 21 in the Erie County Family Court, the AFC Unit is “dedicated to excellence in child centered legal representation and social advocacy.” To that end, we use a multifaceted approach, with a Masters level social worker and/or a specialized paralegal assigned to collaborate with the attorney, who usually remains the child’s counsel throughout the case.  We emphasize frequent contact with our clients, knowing that before we can speak for a child, we must listen to the child. Then, with the benefit in-depth investigation and informed advocacy, the team works to develop a comprehensive plan for advocating for each client’s wishes, rights and interests.

We are primarily assigned by the court to these types of cases:

  • Child Protection: These are Abuse, Neglect, and Termination of Parental Rights cases which may or may not involve the child’s temporary or permanent removal from the home. Our role is to explain the proceedings and possible outcomes to the child, to listen to the child’s wishes regarding such issues as placement and visitation, and to advocate in the Family Court for those wishes.
  • Juvenile Justice: As in cases involving adult criminal defendants, the lawyer for the child assures that all constitutional and legal protections are afforded to youth under the age of 16 charged with Juvenile Delinquency. Similarly, in Persons in Need of Supervision cases, we provide representation to youth under the age of 18 who are alleged to be incorrigible or habitually truant.

Established concurrently with the New York State’s new Family Court Act in 1962, the Attorneys for Children Unit of the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo celebrated 50 years of service to children in Erie County in 2012. We continue to be dedicated to providing effective legal counsel and advocacy, and improving the lives of the children whose circumstances have brought their families into the Family Court.