- Associated Press - Thursday, March 2, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that a domestic violence counseling center can be considered a behavioral health center by the state government, even though it’s not staffed by a licensed counselor.

Justices on Wednesday issued a unanimous opinion overturning a Kanawha County judge’s ruling in the case, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/2meknfK).

Kanawha County Chief Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey had earlier upheld an administrative decision denying the Domestic Violence Survivors’ Support Group application to be considered a behavioral health center. The nonprofit center, which is doing business as the Domestic Violence Counseling Center, provides counseling to victims of domestic violence.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Health Facility and Licensure Certification had denied the center’s application on the sole ground that the center doesn’t employ a licensed counselor, Justice Margaret Workman wrote in the 14-page opinion.

But Bailey misinterpreted state law by failing to recognize that the center’s nonprofit status means it is exempt from a requirement to employ a licensed counselor, Workman said. Instead, Bailey justified her ruling, “largely on pragmatic grounds,” Workman wrote.

“(Her order) reasoned that behavioral health centers have numerous regulatory mandates that can only be accomplished by licensed personnel,” Workman wrote.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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