The USD School Psychology program and DSS Division of Behavioral Health have partnered to provide crisis prevention and response training to K-12 schools throughout South Dakota.

“The mental and physical health and well-being of children is paramount. This partnership will support the skills and resources our schools in South Dakota need to help protect children,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “From pandemics to natural disasters to news about violence and crises across the globe, our students and school personnel face a lot of uncertainty and stress. They need positive coping skills to deal with what is going on around them and this partnership will help provide that.”

The training will help school-based mental health providers learn how to identify children who demonstrate mental health needs and how to match interventions facilitated by school employees to meet those needs. Training will also help identify if a child demonstrates high risk with intensive needs that require community-based services provided outside of the school setting.

“The School Psychology program at USD is delighted to partner with the Department of Social Services to provide crisis prevention and response training in South Dakota,” said Kari Oyen, program director and assistant professor of school psychology at USD. “We know the impact of the pandemic and natural disasters in South Dakota has been hard on all of us. We want to focus on giving educators the tools to respond to a child who may be struggling.”

The program is part of the South Dakota Natural Disaster Response grant awarded to DSS by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2020. USD supports the program by coordinating the Youth Services and Assessment components of the grant.

For more information, including behavioral health resources, please visit

The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening and supporting individuals and families by promoting cost effective and comprehensive services in connection with our partners that foster independent and healthy families. For more information, please visit

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