Laurie Gill
Cabinet Secretary

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605 Strong Department of Health COVID

June 26, 2020
DSS launches crisis counseling, outreach program
The Department of Social Services (DSS) launched 605 Strong, a new crisis counseling program, dedicated to helping people struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to view more DSS COVID-19 Press Releases

Click here for Behavioral Health COVID-19 resources.

If you or a loved one are at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) and/or visit the South Dakota Suicide Prevention website for additional resources.

If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health or substance use concerns related to COVID-19, please click here or visit FindTreatment.gov to identify a treatment provider in your area.

The South Dakota Medicaid team continues to work remotely to support providers and recipients who need health care services. Claims payment continues uninterrupted. Whenever possible, we ask providers to utilize the Medicaid Portal.

Resources for Medicaid Recipients:

Resources for Medicaid Providers

South Dakota Medicaid has requested flexibility from the federal government through an 1135 wavier to implement flexibility for Medicaid providers and recipients during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Board of Examiners of Psychologists COVID-19 Updates

Board of Social Work Examiners COVID-19 Updates

Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals

Board of Examiners for Counselors & Marriage and Family Therapists

National Examinations Updates

Due to COVID-19, the Prometric and Pearson VUE testing centers in the United States and Canada are limiting access to testing sites to help mitigate the spread of the virus. These closures are impacting access to the national examinations required for licensure. As a result, the Board will waive the requirement that the National Counselors Examination be passed before being approved for a plan of supervision for a professional counselor from now until September 1st. A candidate for a plan of supervision must submit an application and transcripts to be approved for a plan of supervision. Proof of passage of the national exam will be required prior to applying for licensure, if the applicant is approved for a plan of supervision during this period. Additionally, a plan of supervision application for a marriage and family therapist may be approved without passage of the National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy until September 1, 2020. A candidate for a marriage and family therapy plan of supervision must submit an application and transcripts to be approved for a plan of supervision. Proof of passage of the national exam will be required prior to applying for licensure, if the applicant is approved for a plan of supervision during this period.

The testing agencies are responsible for rescheduling examination dates and any changes that may be made as a result of COVID-19. Please visit AMFTRB and NBCC for additional examination updates to make arrangements for required testing.

If you have questions about the national examination requirements, please contact the Board’s office.

Direct Hours Required for Licensure – Electronic Sessions

There are a number of complexities surrounding providing counseling and therapy sessions due to the recommendations for social distancing to address COVID-19.  In light of those complexities, the Board is allowing certain supervision and direct client contact hours to be acquired through electronic means through September 1, 2020.

Applicants for licensure who are working under a Board approved plan of supervision to gain the necessary direct client contact and supervision hours, may acquire direct client contact hours by electronic means that are HIPAA compliant and acquired in compliance with the provisions of the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Code of Ethics during this time.  Direct client contact hours can be acquired by electronic means and should be noted on the applicant’s required logs as “electronic hours.”  Supervision hours with the applicant’s board approved supervisor also may be acquired electronically during this period.  At least 50 of the hours with the applicant’s supervisor must be individual hours, not group hours, with the supervisor.

Board approved supervisors are reminded that the supervisor is responsible for the actions of the  supervisee.  Supervisors are encouraged to work with a supervisee to ensure the supervisee’s compliance with all applicable rules, laws and the appropriate code of ethics to ensure any services provided electronically are appropriate for the level of care needed and appropriately delivered.

Telehealth:  In light of CDC recommendations and state actions regarding social distancing, the Board is receiving a high volume of inquiries regarding the provision of counseling by electronic means.   The short answer is:  Providing counseling services via electronic means in South Dakota is allowed under South Dakota’s laws and administrative rules, if you meet the requirements to do so.

Normally, anyone providing counseling or therapy services from South Dakota or to a client located in South Dakota, is required to be licensed as a counselor or marriage and family therapist by the BoardThis includes counseling and therapy services provided by electronic means.  However, Executive Order 2020-07 has been issued to address COVID-19 in South Dakota.  This Executive Order temporarily recognizes licenses issued by another state authorizing an individual to perform counseling or therapy services.

South Dakota does allow for licensure by endorsement if you have been licensed in another state as a counselor or marriage and family therapist for at least 3 years and you have taken one of the national examinations required for licensure in South Dakota.  If you wish to become fully licensed in South Dakota to provide services in South Dakota beyond the effective date of the Executive order, you may do so by completing the appropriate application for licensure by endorsement. Due to the COVID-19 virus, the Board will allow your national examination scores to be verified by your licensing state or the national testing agency.  This exception to primary source verification of national examination scores will remain in effect until September 1st.

If you would like to explore licensure by endorsement, please review the application requirements for the specific license.

Licensed Professional Counselor Application by Endorsement
Licensed Professional Counselor - Mental Health Application by Endorsement
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Application by Endorsement

Counselors or marriage and family therapists providing counseling or therapy services by electronic means in South Dakota are required to meet all the HIPAA requirements to ensure confidentiality of session and meet all the requirements of the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics or the American Association from Marriage and Family Therapy Code of Ethics.

Resources:  In an effort to keep informed about the changing circumstances of COVID-19, below are resources that are routinely updated:

The Board is working to assist you during this unprecedented time.  Please continue to check this website for additional updates. 
Please email or call if you have any questions
sdbce@midwestsolutionssd.com
605-224-1721