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July 23, 2009 Meeting Notes

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2.      Introductions

Represented in attendance:

5 – DHS/DDSD

1 – House of Representatives

19 – Parent, Family member or Self advocate

2 – Agency & Direct Care Staff

(9 – First time attendees)

Attendees were from:

Norman, Noble, Edmond, McLoud, Oklahoma City, Anadarko, Yukon, N of OKC

Agency/Organizations represented in attendance: Oklahoma Infant Transition Program, OASIS, Oklahoma Family Network, APEX, Inc, Big Five Community Services, Oklahoma Family Support 360’ Program, Oklahoma SoonerSUCCESS

3.      Status of the Waiting List – Jim Nicholson

As of 7/16/2009

4,905 Waiting for services

When fund become available they will start working applications dated April 24, 2004.

That’s Greater than a 5 year wait for services!

288 added during most recent quarter

8 began receiving The In-Home Supports Waiver

24 began receiving Community Waiver

15 applications closed (not added to the waiver)

Waiting Time Reported:

>3 years – = 1,857 38%

2 – 3 years – 992 = 20%

1 – 2 years – 1,083 = 22%

<1 year – 973 = 20%

4. Director Hendrick spoke in detail about the budget and how some of the stimulus money is being use to offset the poor state review.  He also reported that the Office of State Finance just recently released a report saying that the state review collection is even lower than anticipated, which in turn will affect the state budget even worse.  He reported that OKDHS has approved more than 400,000 people for the Food Assistance Program (food stamps).  This is an all time high, but it is also evidence of our state’s economy.  He explained if at any point programs have to be cut or reduced or affected by the economic crisis, the first programs most likely to be reduced will be the programs that received little to no federal match, meaning the programs that are “state funded” only.  One of the “state funded” only programs mentioned that would be a huge loss for our state and the citizens if this happened is the Advantage Program, the program supporting elderly citizens to help them continue to live in their own home and not be required to move to a nursing home.  He said that programs like the Food Assistance Program, child daycare assistance, and even DDSD programs have high federal match, so it would really hurt our state if these programs were cut.

He did explain to the group how his agency, OKDHS, has gone about reducing their over head in order to not have to cut programs or staff.  He said they have inacted a hiring freeze, they have just about reduced all travel, they have charged each of the State Resource Centers, Northern Oklahoma Resources Center in Enid, and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, to eliminate overtime to staff, which seems to be a huge cost to each of those institutions.  He reported that these two centers are one of the highest cost to the DDSD program.  One parent asked if it would be possible to combine these two institutions, to help combine some cost, but continue to offer this support for those families who have already chose to place their family member there?  He said that they, OKDHS, is looking at all possibilities to reduce the cost for these centers.

Director Hendrick and Jim Nicholson both talked about some of the benefits DDSD continues to support.  Some of the programs that supports families directory which hold contracts with DDSD is the Oklahoma Autism Network, Oklahoma Family Network, Oklahoma Family Support 360’ program, and many others.  They both made sure to mention that there has been no reduction rate paid per hour for direct care staff, or they have not had to change eligibility in programs, either.

5. Self Directed Services for the In-Home Supports Waiver.  Jim Nicholson explained that the SDS policy had passed the Policy Advisory Committee for DDSD.  He said the it has to pass two different committees or boards for the Health Care Authority then it will be available.  He also said they have prepared a “Request for Proposal” (bid request) looking for a financial manager.  It is thought to take about two months to get that part completely finished.  He concluded by saying, he’s best guess that the self-directive services part of the IHSW would not be available until as late as January 2010.

6. Family questions & comments:

One family brought up an issue that seems to be growing in our state.  This family talked about two young adult children, one living in Poteau and one living in Muskogee area, that are both on the Waiting List for services.  Neither of these families knew about DDSD programs until after their child graduated from high school.  That is when the families made application and was place on the waiting list. Both of these individuals have significant disabilities and can not be left alone. One parent is a single parent who is also caring for an elder parent, as well.  The other one is a much older parent trying to support their adult child with no outside support.  Each of these are situations that should have been noticed prior to them leaving high school, but were missed.  Mr. Nicholson said that he is requesting for a link on the front page of OKDS website, that would be for anyone who just receives a “disability” diagnosis.  This could give them step by step instructions to what is available and how to obtain applications.  This was thought to be a good idea.

Another family brought up yet another “trend” in our state with high school graduation.  Students with severe disabilities are “graduating” as if they were in traditional classes. Meaning they are graduation at the age of 18 instead of how it was traditionally done, graduating at 21.  There was some discussion about this with several of the families, the director and actually the representative who attended.  It was explained that schools are saying because of the “No Child Left Behind” policy that schools could receive a lower rating if they “hold” too many students back.  So these students are receiving their course credits, 4 years English, 3 years Math, 3 years, History, etc thus they meet the requirements for graduation so they must graduate.  They did discuss the “transition” part of the IEP’s but many of the parents said these still do not help because the students who are being kicked out of high school, without any place to go.  The director asked about the “exit” testing for each of these students, and it was explained that students with severe disabilities, who are not “testable” can opt out of testing and in place a portfolio be produced to see the “modifications” for this student.  An example of a portfolio was given, the child is non-verbal with limited communication skills, additionally blind, and high medical complications. The portfolio showing “History” showed pictures of the family where the teacher or assistant drew lines to each picture that is glued on the page and explained it’s a Family Heritage Tree.  The portfolio would also show the student holding scissors, but the student would rarely use scissors at any othe time.  There was continued discussion about how this increasing process, graduation students at 18 instead of 21, will continue to cause a drain on the system.  It has been requested that this matter be looked into more thoroughly.  Director Hendrick also requested that someone from the State Department of Education, Special Education Division, be invited to the next meeting to help us better understand this situation.

7. Next meeting is scheduled for October 29, 2009 at 2:00, same location.