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The South Dakota Department of Social Services launched a new crisis counseling program dedicated to helping people struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary Laurie Gill says the “605 Strong” program will help connect residents with basic needs, financial assistance opportunities, government information and mental health and family resources. She says the program also provides coronavirus related resources including crisis intervention and access to the COVID-19 Call Center.

605 Strong includes a follow-up program for individuals in acute distress and those in need of supportive contacts, stress management skills or connection to additional services. Targeted outreach will also be provided by Lutheran Social Services to support refugees and their families working at affected employers in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Huron.

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The State of South Dakota received $210,723 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the first of a two-part Crisis Counseling Program grant. DSS plans to apply for the second part this month, which will provide funding for continued outreach and supportive services for an additional nine months.