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Institutions for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities have long histories

Oklahoma's two institutions for adults with developmental disabilities have long and colorful histories.
Oklahoman Published: October 31, 2012
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HISTORY

About the state centers

Oklahoma's two institutions for adults with developmental disabilities have long and colorful histories.

The Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, commonly referred to as NORCE and SORC, both were established more than 100 years ago.

At that time, they were generally considered the only options for providing care to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services.

SORC was opened in 1907 and originally was known as the State Training School for White Boys, Powell said.

NORCE opened in 1909 as the Oklahoma Institute for the Feeble Minded, she said.

At the height of institutional care in Oklahoma, each housed more than 1,000 residents, she said.

In the 1960s, the state added another state-run institution, the Hissom Memorial Center in Sand Springs. Hissom was closed in 1994 after of group of parents filed a class-action lawsuit demanding that the state create community service options for their children, Powell said. More than 400 Hissom residents were moved into community-based homes through the closure process, she said.

After years of transitioning residents into community-based settings, 123 residents remain at SORC and 108 at NORCE. If DHS commissioners vote to close those two institutions Thursday, those residents also would be moved into community-based homes.

Randy Ellis,

Staff Writer

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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