Muskogee parents rally as 'devastating' DHS cuts loom

A rally was held in Muskogee Tuesday night to show support for the thousands of families across Oklahoma that depend on state funding. (KTUL)

Time is running out for thousands of families across Oklahoma that depend on state funding to be able to care for their children, some of the adults that can’t live on their own.

Just more than two weeks is all the time lawmakers have before cuts go into effect on Dec. 1. And people who rely on DHS services are starting to get very nervous.

Their words and their signs say it all.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to see,” says Billy Elder, who helped organize the Save Oklahoma Rally in Muskogee. “That it can still boil down to party lines on an issue like this where really everyone should agree that these folks need these services.”

It’s even more frustrating for Jade Day and her nine-year-old son, Gavin.

“He is hilarious,” she says. “He just happens to have a genetic syndrome and cerebral palsy.”

“I go to school,” Gavin says of his day-to-day routine. “I do work. I have recess, I have lunch, I have breakfast and I go home.”

Gavin’s state-funded services aren’t on the chopping block yet, but the day he turns 18, it all goes away.

“It saddens me because what is my life going to look like?” Jade asks. “Am I going to be able to work? Am I going to have to stay at home so he has care? I would rather work and be contributing to society versus worrying about if my kid’s going to have care.”

“It would be bad,” Gavin says. “On a scale of 1-10, I want to say 9.”

All Gavin wants is a chance at normalcy. But if lawmakers don’t figure out the budget crisis, that chance may be slim to none.

“I am a, back to the Trail of Tears, Oklahoman,” Jade says. “My family has been here since before the founding. And that’s not the Oklahoma I know.”

“Our most vulnerable citizens of Oklahoma are really at risk,” Elder says. “Of losing some of these vital services.”

Elder couldn’t stay silent anymore.

“While they’re still passing these bills back and forth between the House and Senate,” Elder says. “We just wanted to remind them what’s important.”

And until they do, Day has a message for the folks at the statehouse.

“We’re watching,” she says. “And we’re going to remember in November when we vote.”

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