Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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May 12, 2014

Closure date not the factor for SORC

emann@pvdemocrat.com — The impacts of a decision to close both the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and its sister site NORC in Enid are still playing out to this day.

While the centers are still expected to shutter their doors eventually, at least at SORC, the initial deadline of April 30 recently became irrelevant.

As far as the Disability Services Division of the Department of Human Services is concerned, it will only happen when the last clients have been placed in the community, according to Public Information Manager Kevan Goff-Parker.

“The plan is to continue to find the right fit, happy and placed in safe environment close to or in community,” said Goff-Parker. “We will keep the doors open until everyone has a new home.”

The current populations at both facilities is 41 clients at SORC and 19 at NORCE, said Goff-Parker.

This is compared to February when they still had 55 clients with the three buildings on campus still in use including Multiple Unit North, South and Turner.

“We aren’t making any major improvements to any buildings right now,” said Goff-Parker, noting how if an emergency dictates something needs to be repaired, DHS will authorize something then. “We are going to work with what we have.”

Since 27 employees took a voluntary buyout offer April 14 there has been no further plans announced for another such move, said Goff-Parker.

Some of those employees have been able to remain by taking other jobs within DHS and even others have followed clients they have been familiar with to other providers.

The next VOBO isn’t totally dependent on a number of transitions happening, but what services are needed will help determine which employees next have a chance to leave early. There are currently 212 employees at SORC.

Goff-Parker reiterated that the transition process continues to be allowed as much time as necessary as teams work close with parents and guardians to make sure all needs are met.

Sometimes they may need to change providers before they are settled, but she said most of them are satisfied with the process.

“We’ve come across some great stories,” said Goff-Parker. “We’re working with everybody’s plans… There are over 100 providers statewide; if one doesn’t work, one could choose another.”

As far as what happens to the buildings on campus after closure, that is still under discussion with no clear option, said Goff-Parker.

The department that will determine use of facilities once the transition is complete will ultimately fall on the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

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