Friday, March 27, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel for Developmental Disabilities today issued its final report - offering a series of recommendations for improvements in services to people with disabilities - before disbanding. Saying much important work remains to be done, Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order creating two new bodies: first, the members of the former Blue Ribbon panel will continue to serve on a new advisory committee and offer policy proposals; second, the governor established an inter-agency Executive Council, composed of state officials and members of Fallin's Cabinet, who will seek to implement those proposals.
"The Blue Ribbon Panel was about generating good ideas and offering best practices," said Fallin. "Now we need to move beyond that into the realm of making good policy. Keeping the Blue Ribbon Panel members on in an advisory role and linking them directly with Cabinet officials and agency heads will allow us to do that."
The goal of the Executive Council, with the advisory committee’s support and guidance, is to come up with ways to improve the range and quality of services accessible to Oklahomans with developmental disabilities, according to the governor’s executive order. Advisory committee members are individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, their family members and professionals from developmental disability-related fields.
“Overall we would like to work towards a system that empowers and supports families so that individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities can prosper at home, in the community and beyond,” Fallin said.
The blue ribbon panel, which Fallin formed in 2013, issued recommendations during its final meeting today. Recommendations include:
• Establishing one point of entry for services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
• Providing an initial screening for individuals requesting services to help determine level of need.
• Coming up with a system to prioritize the waiting list. Currently the waiting list is on a first-come, first-served basis unless there is an emergency situation.
Nearly 60,000 men, women and children have intellectual/developmental disabilities in Oklahoma. More than 7,000 people are on a waiting list of services.
The Executive Council is to coordinate and improve the information tools that key state agencies make publicly available regarding existing intellectual/developmental disability services and community resources. It also will:
• Provide for the regular, periodic dissemination of information about resources to individuals on the waiver services request list that are specifically tailored to each individual’s need.
• Develop and implement resource training programs that are designed both for state workers to employ at the point of intake, and for families and self-advocates to access, more generally, throughout Oklahoma.
• Improve the ease-of-use and prominence of information on state agency websites concerning resources, including the potential creation of a uniform disability information web portal.
In addition, the Executive Council is to analyze how best to prioritize the waiver services request list so that need and urgency of care, and not just date of application, are considered in the ordering of the list.
The Executive Council is free to consider and recommend implementation of authorized state agency actions on unanticipated issues critical to the intellectual/developmentally disabled community, or to back necessary statutory amendments to the governor or the Legislature.
Those serving on the Executive Council shall be made of the following officials or their designees:
• The chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
• The state superintendent of public instruction.
• The director of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
• The commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
• The chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.
• The director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
• The secretary of health and human services.
• The secretary of education and workforce development.
The Executive Council has the authority to appoint replacements for any vacancies that arise on the advisory committee.