Mental Health Voucher Program Launched for Childcare Providers

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PIERRE – The Department of Social Services (DSS) recently launched a version of the Behavioral Health Voucher Program, offering funding assistance for mental health services to employees of state-licensed and registered childcare providers.

Childcare employees work in high stress, demanding environments, which can impact their ability to provide quality care for children.

“South Dakotans who work in childcare face physically demanding challenges in their work. In addition, the constant attention they provide children can also be emotionally draining,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “The Child Care Provider Voucher Program aims to lower barriers individuals may encounter when seeking emotional supports. By providing financial support for therapy costs, DSS is looking to assist individuals to overcome any financial barriers they may face so they can receive help they need. Through this program, we also hope to encourage childcare providers to seek help when experiencing emotional challenges amidst the important work they do.” 

The program extends the 605 Strong Behavioral Health Voucher Program created in 2021 to help connect South Dakotans with mental health services during the Natural Disasters of 2019 and COVID-19 pandemic. This new program, funded through a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Discretionary Funds, will be managed by the DSS Division of Behavioral Health. 

Approximately 17 providers across the state will be enrolling in the new program. Individuals working in state licensed and registered childcare programs can choose a participating provider and receive up to eight mental health counseling sessions. Sessions are available in person or via telemedicine.

“The BVHP was a tremendous resource to people in the community and made an impact. I look forward to participating in the Child Care Voucher Program and especially partnering with DSS,” said Zebiba Zere, owner and clinical social worker of ZMZ Counseling. “Childcare providers will be able to receive quality mental health services at a provider of their choosing.”

For employees of a state licensed or registered childcare provider in need of receiving a voucher for mental health services, visit or contact the HelpLine at 211 for a referral.