TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Until recently, Oklahomans seeking disability services were on the waitlist for 13 years before they received resources. Now, the state is trying to change that.
Oklahoma’s Developmental Disability Services Division claims that every Oklahoman on the waitlist should have the resources they need by June 2024.
The services division is hosting regional meetings across the state to expedite the application process and cut down the 13-year waitlist.
“These meetings are to inform and equip families about what’s possible in the future, it's about our home and community-based support system,” Beth Scrutchins, Divisions Director for Developmental Disabilities Services, said.
There are currently over 5,100 families on the waiting list, but they hope to bring that number to zero within two years.
“We received historic funding last year from the legislature to totally end the DDS waiting list,” Scrutchins said. “So, we were appropriated $32.5 million in May.”
Scrutchins said the next step is now to contact the waitlisted families, but they have found that to be easier said than done.
“We have contracted with Liberty Health Services and they are working with us to contact every single family on the waitlist,” Scrutchins said. “If we can’t find them we're kind of doing a deep dive search because we know how important it is and how important and how long people have been waiting.”
The new initiative, called PossABLE, offers families and caregivers endless resources to help their loved ones gain confidence and the ability to function on their own.
“It’s not the disability it’s the ability,” Kara Patterson, DDS ambassador, said. “Focus on what you can do.”
They will continue to host regional family meetings every quarter across the state to give families the opportunity to get resources and ask questions, though they know taking a day off can be a hardship for some and are offering an incentive.
“We’re giving $100 stipends to families to cover costs related to transportation to get here, care for their loved one while they’re here receiving all this information,” Samantha Galloway, Interim Director of Oklahoma Human Services, said. “Whatever the cost while they leave to come to this meeting.”
If you speculate DDS may not have your accurate contact information, then you are asked to reach out to the developmental disabilities division and update your contact.