EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – On Monday, there was a major step forward for Oklahomans on a 13-year waiting list for developmental disability services.

It’s a story News 4 has been following. 

In the past several years, as many as 7,000 Oklahomans waited for years on this list.

But now, a newly-signed bill aims to change that. 

A signing for House Bill 4466 took place Monday morning at The Meadows Center for Opportunity in Edmond.  

“We are a document destruction business. We just happen to employ adults with developmental disabilities,” said James Hill, CEO of the Meadows. “I think for them it’s a great opportunity for them to get out in the community and be a part of society.”

It’s only fitting that state leaders gathered at The Meadows to sign the measure providing tens of millions of dollars in funding to help Oklahomans with developmental disabilities on a 13-year long wait list for services. 

“In 2018, there were more than 7,000 people waiting for services,” said Justin Brown, Secretary of Human Services. “Today, on my way here, the number was about 4,600. So we’ve made significant progress but the progress is not done.” 

Leadership in state government and DHS say this is just the first step in serving those who have been desperately waiting for services, ranging from personal care to career assistance. 

“DHS’ commitment now is to have this waitlist gone in two years,” said Sen. Paul Rosino, (R), Oklahoma City.  

“It’s taken way too long to be here but we’re on the right path,” said Rep. Kevin Wallace, (R), District 32.  

According to state data, 116 Oklahomans have died waiting for these services.  

So this progress is truly vital. 

“I can’t imagine how good that must feel for a parent and how relieving of that burden this must be for them,” Hill said.  

The state Legislature is set to appropriate more than $20 million plus an additional $11 million to increase pay for staff workers. 

DHS has pledged an additional $19 million in cash from operational deficiencies.