Understanding SC DDSN and SC DHHS

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Understanding the South Carolina state programs which are available to individuals and families who live with special needs or disabilities can sometimes be a difficult task to navigate. It is a very complex system with a lot of layers and different organizations involved. Below, we help explain the difference between two key South Carolina state agencies who oversee and run these various programs around our state.

In South Carolina, there are two primary state organizations involved in working with children, families, and individuals who have special needs and disabilities. They are: 

  • The SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SC DDSN)
  • The SC Department of Health and Human Services (SC DHHS)

They both have very important roles to play. Let’s learn about each one individually.

The Role of DDSN in South Carolina

SC DDSN (Department of Disabilities and Special Needs) is certainly the biggest and number one state agency involved in working with children, families, and individuals who have special needs and disabilities in our state. It’s easy to remember this because of their name, of course.

As you can read on their website, “SCDDSN is the state agency that plans, develops, oversees and funds services for South Carolinians with severe, lifelong disabilities of intellectual disability, autism, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury and conditions related to each of these four disabilities. Our mission is to assist people with disabilities and their families in meeting needs, pursuing possibilities and achieving life goals, and to minimize the occurrence and reduce the severity of disabilities through prevention.”

Essentially, this is a state organization whose primary focus and reason to exist is absolutely centered on helping those with disabilities and their families lead fulfilled lives, while ensuring the greatest quality of life and independence. 

SC DDSN has many different services, programs and funding opportunities available if you or a loved one has a disability or special needs. Keep in mind however, that these services, programs, and funding do require that you officially apply for services with them. You can learn more about applying for DDSN services on their website.

Note, DDSN is for children and individuals who are age three and older. If you have a baby who is under the age of three, you may qualify for a special program called BabyNet which is provided by SC DHHS. Read on below to learn more about how DHHS is different from DDSN.

The Role of DHHS in South Carolina

SC DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) also has a very important role in the state of South Carolina, but their role and their function is quite different from DDSN. Specifically, the primary purpose of DHHS is to administer the Medicaid program in South Carolina. 

Are you familiar with Medicaid? Medicaid is a government healthcare program which works a lot like health insurance. As you can read on their website, “Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.” 

So DHHS has a primary responsibility to oversee Medicaid here in South Carolina and make sure that it runs properly for the individuals in our state who use it. That means that even when you are receiving services primarily through SC DDSN like we described above, it’s very likely that you will also work simultaneously with DHHS to apply for and receive Medicaid health coverage, which can help cover the costs of your disability health services.

However, there is another very important thing to know about DHHS. They also administer a program in South Carolina called BabyNet. We have previously written an entire article about BabyNet which gives more detailed information. In short, BabyNet is the Early Intervention program for children under the age of three in South Carolina who are experiencing developmental delays or disabilities. If your child is under the age of three, you should talk to your pediatrician about contacting DHHS for a BabyNet referral.

How Bright Start Works With SCDDSN and SCDHHS

Remember, before you can receive Early Intervention, Case Management, or Speech Therapy services from our trained and specialized staff, you must first go through the formal referrals and applications that DDSN or DHHS (BabyNet) require from you. Once you have started this process with them and been approved for services you will have the option to choose the service provider you would like to work with. At this time, we encourage you to ask for us here at Bright Start. 

After you are approved, keep in mind that this is why having a Bright Start Case Manager assigned to work with you is so very helpful. He or she will be able to help facilitate your experience with these state organizations, and help make the entire process of getting the services you need easier on you and your family.

We would love to work with you or your loved one, and we can help determine long range plans which help ensure a full and fun life for you or your family member – such as meeting developmental milestones, graduating school, obtaining a job, and living independently. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond to deliver the best care and services, while always staying focused on empowering and coaching through a warm relationship with your family.

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