The needs of Oklahoma's developmentally disabled will get the attention of a panel formed Tuesday by the governor.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order Tuesday authorizing the formation of a blue-ribbon panel for developmental disabilities.
The panel is assigned with developing a comprehensive plan to support people with developmental disabilities and their families. It is also to address the state's growing waiting list of thousands of people hoping to receive services from the developmental disabilities service division of the state Department of Human Services, according to the governor's order.
The group also is to research and analyze best practices for the comprehensive delivery of high quality services. Further, the panel is to act in an advisory capacity to the governor on all issues related to providing community services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
“There are nearly 60,000 men, women and children with developmental disabilities in Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “While the state is providing high-quality services to many of these individuals, we are still experiencing a waiting list of over 7,000 people. This panel will help the state reduce that waiting list while improving the quality of the services it offers.”
The 10-member panel was given one year to prepare and deliver its report.
Fallin's decision to form the blue-ribbon panel comes as legislation is waiting to be heard that would stop a plan to close Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and Southern Resource Center in Pauls Valley.
House Bill 2053, by House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid, would direct DHS to cease the plan's implementation and to take no further action without approval of the Legislature. DHS commissioners in November voted to set an April 30, 2014, deadline to close the Pauls Valley center and an Aug. 31, 2015, deadline to close the Enid institution. The vote occurred just days before the board was voted out of existence when Oklahoma voters approved State Question 765.
HB 2053 is waiting to be brought up for a hearing in the House of Representatives. It earlier passed a House committee 7-0.