Developmental Disabilities Services in Jeopardy

How do you tell someone they no longer have a job? What about thousands of people?

How do you tell a person they won’t have necessary support at his/her group home and may end up homeless?

What would you say to people with disabilities who may not understand why these things are happening, but are suddenly thrust into a position no fault of their own?

These questions, and many more, loom as state agencies face the unenviable task of slashing budgets in the midst of the current funding shortfall in Oklahoma.

DRTC program participants in their DRTC shirts.
DRTC program participants in their DRTC shirts.

Since 1953, Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) has provided more than training and jobs for people with disabilities. DRTC has, among other things, offered a chance for those served to connect with one another, to grow personally and professionally, and to learn to advocate for themselves. The added benefit helps create hundreds of tax-paying citizens every year, who also contribute in many other ways in the community.

However, the funding well continues to pump ever so slowly in a state that hangs its hat on the oil and gas industry.

Countdown to zero

The most pressing concern now is funding the last two months of the current fiscal year. Without supplemental funding, agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will have zero dollars to provide necessary programs and services to people, many of them vulnerable, statewide.

Funding measures are currently working through the legislature in an attempt to close the FY17 gap.

Contributing Oklahomans

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Troyce cleans price tags.

Dale Rogers Training Center, Oklahoma’s oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities, serves 1,100 people every year. Last program year, the people with disabilities in its programs earned $5.3 million, paying taxes and not relying on government subsidies. They work in the community with you. They volunteer at many of the other nonprofits you’ve heard about. They are contributing Oklahomans.

Of the 1,100 people DRTC serves, 123 people work on the nonprofit’s main campus—located within six miles of the Capitol where costly decisions are being made. The rest of the individuals work in the community and on federal contracts.

Funding levels

State funding—which applies to 60 people at DRTC—provides opportunities in the Vocational Services Program, before and after hours care, and group training classes.

In Home Supports Waiver (IHSW)—impacts 32 people at DRTC —provides opportunities in DRTC’s Employment Services, Mobile Workforce, Special Needs and Vocational Services Programs, while also allowing for job coaching and services, transportation and additional areas of support that promote training and employment. These waivers receive federal matching dollars (approximately 60 cents for every 40 cents Oklahoma contributes), based on a review of the previous three years. Adults on IHSW receive just $20,671 a year to spend on all services (including vocational training and supports).

“Terrible to unthinkable”

The response to Oklahoma’s budget shortfall has already taken its toll.

Agencies have been asked repeatedly to slash budgets, make adjustments, and find ways to continue providing services with less and less money.

Already, agencies have been asked to submit budget proposals factoring a 14% reduction in services.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services logo
OKDHS logo

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services recently submitted its proposal for Fiscal Year 2018—with cuts described by OKDHS Director Ed Lake as, “…ranging from the terrible to the unthinkable.”

Slashing OKDHS services up to 14% would reduce the agency’s operating budget by an expected $147 million and force tough decisions to either reduce or eliminate entire programs including State funded community services and the IHSW.

Statewide, OKDHS serves more than 3,100 children and adults with disabilities with these two programs alone.

These proposed cuts could lead to an even greater number of those without a job—the people who care for people with disabilities through IHSW and the caregivers who may have to quit work to care for their loved ones.

Waiting in line

Additional state agencies that help people with disabilities are also feeling the effects of the failing budget.

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services logo
OKDRS logo

Oklahoma’s Department of Rehabilitation Services (OKDRS), which contracts services with DRTC’s Employment Services Program, set up a waiting list in January 2017 for two groups of applicants with less severe disabilities due to rising costs and state budget cuts. Two months later, the agency expanded its waiting list to all new applicants for vocational rehabilitation and employment services.

These people are now “in line” to receive services to find work in Oklahoma. OKDRS will release those on the wait list, making them available for services, as funding becomes available.

According to OKDRS, staff helped 2,125 people find jobs in FY16. These individuals each paid, on average, $3,144 in taxes, reducing their need for disability benefits and social services.

Advocates needed

As DRTC helps promote self-advocacy skills to people with disabilities, the same is needed from you.

Bottom line: cutting services for people with disabilities will further hurt the state’s bottom line.

Advocate early. Advocate often. Advocate for the people of Oklahoma.

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About Dale Rogers Training Center

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs more than 1,100 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.

New Civitan club officially chartered

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is raising awareness of persons with disabilities by sponsoring a new civic club open to people of all abilities.

Happy Trails Civitan Charter members
Happy Trails Civitan Club Charter members

The Happy Trails Civitan Club, sponsored by DRTC, adds a new dimension to the social and civic portions in the lives of people with disabilities. These individuals are finding more work in the community and may or may not be living with their families any more.

“We are looking at the whole person,” says Michael T. Jones, Public Relations and Marketing Manager at DRTC. “We love this opportunity for people with disabilities to have a safe place to be able to give back to the community that has supported them.”

Civitan International President Duane Capps addresses the Civitans
Civitan International President Duane Capps

Civitan International President Duane Capps made it official with a pinning ceremony at Wyman Frame – a division of DRTC. President Capps and other Civitan leaders, comprised of the Heartland and Great Southwest Districts, attended the ceremony as part of their regional meetings in Oklahoma City.

Agency staff lead tours throughout parts of the campus, highlighting the abilities of those it serves and showing how we all live life side by side. Attendees took part in interactive demonstrations from Prism Place (DRTC’s awards, trophies and promotional items division), Wyman Frame (picture frames) and subcontracting projects.

Civitan International is celebrating its 100th year in 2017 with a goal to charter 100 new clubs. Happy Trails Civitan Club membership is open to anyone who is at least 18 years old and of good character. Regular meetings will be held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, 6:00pm at Wyman Frame (2502 N. Utah Ave. in OKC).

About Civitan International

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1917, Civitan now has active service clubs in 48 countries around the world. Members conduct service projects and volunteer in their community. For more information, please visit www.civitan.org, or call 1-800-CIVITAN.

 About Dale Rogers Training Center

Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC) is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs more than 1,100 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.

Production-style framing

Framing individual photos, pieces of art or other collections can test any framer’s creativity, but production-style framing presents an entirely new set of challenges.

Everything from materials to physical space to staff must either be bought or managed, all while trying to meet the customer’s budget and due date.

Wyman Frame has a proven track record of successfully mass producing various framed pieces, from an office-wide renovation project to a nearly 300-frame project for the Oklahoma Tourism Department at the Lodge at Sequoyah State Park.

Repeat business

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Julie and Pennie hold a fully assembled framed portrait.

We were thrilled to have the Tourism Department place another order at Wyman Frame—this time for the new lodge at Lake Murray, scheduled to open mid-February.

Susan Dragoo, a photographer from Oklahoma, photographed locations around the park. Large photos were produced for the rooms and other public areas of the lodge.

The process

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Carla Folks, Certified Picture Framer, and Julie prepare a piece for dry mounting.

We cut mats and Plexiglas, dry mounted the photos, and built the frames.

It takes a lot of planning, ordering, cutting and prep work for an order of this size. We brought in several crews of clients to work production-style.  It takes extra care when handling large pieces.

The photographs were beautiful and I’m sure will add to the pleasurable experience of staying in the new lodge.

Framing history

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Framed Lake Murray board game.

Lake Murray is the first and largest state park in Oklahoma. In addition to the photographs, we also framed many memorabilia items they accumulated over the years, such as old postcards, photos, blueprints, menu from the restaurant and even an old Lake Murray board game.

In all, our talented crew framed nearly 150 items for Lake Murray. Check it out the next time you’re there, and don’t forget to choose Wyman Frame, which helps provide jobs for people with disabilities, for your framing needs.

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Carla Folks works at Wyman Frame, a division of Dale Rogers Training Center (DRTC). Carla has been a Certified Picture Framer since 1989 and has framed for DRTC for three years.

DRTC is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. With multiple locations in Oklahoma, DRTC trains or employs more than 1,100 people with disabilities per year. Visit us online: DRTC.org.