Reaction to DHS board's decision to be expected

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: November 4, 2012
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BEFORE Wes Lane and five other Oklahoma Department of Human Services commissioners cast their votes to close two group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, they already knew they wouldn't make everyone happy. That's often the case for public bodies, but nowhere is it more true than at DHS.

Even when the decisions of the commissioners and the agency's top executives aren't a matter of life and death, those decisions have far-reaching and often lifelong impact. The choice commissioners made Thursday was difficult, for them and for the families with members at one of the homes.

The 6-3 vote sets in motion the eventual closure of the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley. Together, the centers house 231 residents who would be transitioned to community-based homes, according to DHS plans.

Families of some of the disabled residents were understandably angry. Change is hard, but perhaps even more so for those challenged with disabilities. Their strong reaction doesn't mean the commission made the wrong choice.

The board deserves credit for making a tough decision in incredibly challenging circumstances. Criticisms that the board acted too quickly or before receiving adequate input from those affected are unfounded. They've spent months studying the issue. Proponents for keeping one or both centers open have been active and vocal.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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