OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) has released the anticipated timeline for moving thousands of disabled Oklahomans off the waiting list for state services, Thursday.
There are 4,655 Oklahomans on the wait list as of July 14th; many of them have been languishing on a wait that stretched to 13 years long in recent years.
These are Oklahomans with a developmental disability who are entitled to state services, who are not being served because the waiting list is so long.
Earlier this year, KFOR highlighted the disability services waiting list.
After our reporting, the legislature voted to fund a solution to the problem.
DHS pledged an additional $19 million to eliminate the list.
On Thursday, DHS released the first details about how they are going to do it.
The agency launched a website with extensive information about navigating the waiting list.
For decades, Oklahomans with a developmental disability have felt left behind, forgotten by a legislature that refused to fund their care.
However, something shifted this session.
The house and the senate passed a $50 million plan to fully fund disability waiver services and wipe out that shameful waiting list.
The vote was in May.
By June, the state was already fast-tracking applications.
According to DHS, 340 families who applied in 2010 and 2011 are being moved off the waiting list right now.
By the end of the year, those who applied in early 2012 will be approved for services.
Next year, the department plans to move on those who applied between 2012 and 2021, which means if the department stays on track, the entire waiting list will be wiped out by March of 2024.
“We have already contacted a lot of the families that are in this first waiting list group that we’re going to be contacting between June and September,” said DHS Division Director Beth Scrutchins. “So at this point, things are moving forward.”
The approval process for state services takes about 90 days.
DHS is also raising wages for direct care workers.
The agency is considering a rate study to make sure the current wages are enough to staff all open positions.