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Oklahoma's DHS commissioners to reconsider population cuts at centers for the mentally disabled

Oklahoma DHS had voted on a plan in December to move most residents, but parents and guardians have other ideas. DHS operates centers for the mentally disabled in Pauls Valley and Enid. Many of the residents have lived at the centers for decades.
Modified: January 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm •  Published: January 24, 2012
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DHS to reconsider cuts at centers

DHS commissioners decided Tuesday to look at alternatives to a plan to reduce the population of its two centers for the mentally disabled.

The Department of Human Services operates centers for the mentally disabled in Pauls Valley and Enid. Many of the residents have lived at the centers for decades.

Commissioners in December approved a “plan in principle” that would move most residents at the centers into community settings by Aug. 13, 2013.

The plan in December called for reducing the population at the two centers from 242 to 112 residents. A modified version of the plan calls for the reduction to be to 120 residents.

Parents and guardians of the Pauls Valley residents and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association have come up with their own plan. They want the state to build new eight-bed homes and 20-bed acute-care facilities on the two campuses.

Commissioners did not make any formal vote on the issue Tuesday, but they agreed to consider alternatives.

“I don't want to give any false hope that we're going to come up with the money. We just need to look into it,” Commissioner Michael Peck said.

State legislators also could address the issue in their upcoming session.

DHS already provides services to more than 5,000 developmentally disabled Oklahomans in community settings. Another 6,400 are on a waiting list.

Nolan Clay, Staff Writer


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