Duncan adult day care concerned about possible closure amid state budget hole battle

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DUNCAN, Okla. - Matt Jennings loves music, Oklahoma City Dodgers games and hugs.

He also needs a lot of care -- much of it coming from his parents Tim and Kaye Jennings.

"He has cerebral palsy, autism, there’s several different diagnoses," said Kaye, sitting alongside her husband.

"He gets agitated sometimes," said Tim of his son, who is 27. "And being here everyday helps with that a lot.”

Here being the adult day care in Duncan.

It started off as filling a need for families, like the Jennings, and their loved ones with special needs. But families fear the day care's doors will have to close if the state can't fix its budget shortfall, bringing with it cuts to services for some of the state's most vulnerable.

“As you well know, there’s a lot of issues at the capitol that’s very frustrating for us as families and we feel that we’re caught in the middle and we’re tired of it," said Kaye Jennings.

"Once things close, the crisis has happened," said Tim. "You can’t come back in a year and say you have the money. Lives have already been destroyed.”

As legislators continue to figure out a way to fix a $215 million budget hole opened up when the supreme court ruled a cigarette fee unconstitutional, the Jennings and other families are concerned what may happen if slated cuts to the Department of Human Services go through.

Of the estimated $69 million in lost funding to DHS, roughly $4.5 million would be cut from the Adult In-Home Support Waiver program, helping families care for adults with developmental disabilities. Allowing families, like the Jennings, to work and care for their children.

DHS began notifying thousands of Oklahomans programs, like the Adult In-Home Support Waiver, could be cut starting next month if a legislative fix isn't found.

After being facing disability service cuts in the past, the Jennings worked to open the day care through the non-profit Think Ability, Inc., filling the need of their family and others in the community. Tim Jennings, who also serves on Think Ability's board, says there are about 14 day care clients.

The couple is frustrated, and fearful about what the future may hold.

"But just the basic--," said Tim trailing off. "Those people who cannot fend for themselves, through no fault of their own. It`s kind of a core-function and Oklahoma`s starting to look like a third-world country in that regard."

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