State Leaders Announce Budget Agreement to End Wait List for Developmental Disabilities Services
Help is coming soon for over 5,100 Oklahomans on the 13-year wait list for Developmental Disability Services (DDS). Gov. Stitt, state Legislators and Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) announced Monday a budget agreement to provide funds to end the wait and increase provider rates.
“This is a momentous day, and it would not have come to fruition without the hard work and collective efforts of Gov. Stitt, our Oklahoma Legislative partners, DDS staff and wait list families,” said Secretary of Human Services Justin Brown. “Our goal is to provide services to every Oklahoman on the DDS wait list, and we can now begin making this a reality, transforming the lives of thousands of families.”
Liberty of Oklahoma has been conducting statewide assessments of people on the DDS wait list to understand their individual challenges and create a solution to provide services to everyone. The $21.3 million projected cost to end the wait list is based on the assessments completed to date and the families waiting as of May 1, 2022.
In addition to the cost of providing services for those on the DDS wait list, the budget agreement also includes a 25% increase in provider rates by October 1, 2022.
“The provider rate increase is critical to ensuring we have a workforce available to provide care to every Oklahoman in need of services,” Brown added.
As of May 1, 5,619 people are receiving DDS services and 5,146 people are on the wait list. Before December 2021, the number of people receiving services had not exceeded the number of people waiting since 2009.
People who wish to check their wait list status can email DDS.Waitlist@okdhs.org and an intake worker will contact them.
The Governor and legislative leaders commented on this significant investment.
Governor Kevin Stitt:
“This investment is a testament that conservative leadership comes with a heart and places real value on people with developmental disabilities and their families in communities across Oklahoma. As Governor, I said that I would support all pro-life policy, and this is a validation of that commitment. I am incredibly proud to stand with the legislature in solving a decades long issue only made possible because of strong fiscal management over the last four years. I am abundantly grateful for the incredible servant leadership of Secretary Justin Brown and the team at the Department of Human Services who were bold in building a foundation and strategy that has made today a reality for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities and their families.”
Pro Tem Greg Treat:
“This accomplishment does not represent the end of efforts to serve this vulnerable population, but the beginning. The effort to eliminate the DDS waiting list has been years in the making, and I am proud to announce a successful conclusion to this collaboration between the legislature, the administration of DHS, and Governor Stitt's office. Today we celebrate with those individuals and families who have been waiting; tomorrow we begin the work of ensuring continued access to resources that help vulnerable individuals live full and meaningful lives.”
Chairman Roger Thompson:
“Today’s announcement, and more importantly these services, are life altering for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities and their families. Being able to improve people’s lives is what made me run for office and why I remain so committed to serving. I am so incredibly proud to stand alongside my colleagues to announce and end this long-standing wait for services.”
Chairman Paul Rosino:
“Ending the DDS waiting list will likely prove to be one of the most significant accomplishments to occur during my tenure as a legislator. I am proud to have served as part of a collaborative team including both chambers of the legislature, as well as the Governor. This accomplishment does not represent the end of efforts to serve this vulnerable population, but the beginning. Having ended the waiting list, we will refocus our efforts on ensuring that Oklahomans with developmental disabilities have access to resources that help them thrive as individuals and members of their communities indefinitely.”
Chairman Kevin Wallace:
“Today we are solving a decades-long issue for Oklahoma Citizens. Oklahomans with developmental disabilities need services to live and thrive in their home communities across the state. Today’s announcement provides that for thousands of Oklahoma families. In addition, we are making a significant investment in rates so that people who receive services today can have access to a more consistent and stable network of direct care staff, and validates those that dedicate their careers to serving people with developmental disabilities.”
Representative Mark Lawson:
“This is a win for the people of Oklahoma, especially the Oklahomans who have been waiting years for services. I’m grateful to my legislative colleagues, DHS administration and Governor Stitt who have continued to champion this cause. The real work remains ahead of us as we begin to link individuals with service providers. We should celebrate this win today and go right back to work tomorrow to end the waiting list for good.”