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Creating Oklahoma’s Future

Another amazing blog post from our collaborator, Ed Long. “By coming together to launch innovative solutions in communities across the state, we can avoid larger challenges in the future and build a stronger state today for all Oklahomans.” Ain’t that right?! Happy reading!

Ed Long

Entrepreneurial leaders anticipate challenges and opportunities ahead of their arrival and create solutions to maximize positive results. The same applies to social outcomes. Public sector leaders may recognize problems that loom in the near future, but do not always have the up front capital and resources to invest in the solutions.

Cross-Sector Innovations, a partner of Creative Oklahoma, is honored to work with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Oklahoma Family Network, the Center for Learning and Leadership-University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council to bring together consumers, businesses, government and nonprofits to develop and launch new and innovative strategies for serving individuals with disabilities, their families and  caregivers.

While our state is  working diligently to improve access to services across Oklahoma, we also recognize there is a significant need for community solutions to serve the vast majority of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are currently unable to access services. Solutions are not limited to expanding state capacity, budget and services; there also are opportunities to engage communities in developing effective solutions for ensuring individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers have every opportunity for a good life.

For example, let’s consider employment needs of the estimated 61,272 Oklahomans with I/DD and their caregivers. Many of the current resources in the state are focused on supporting individuals with I/DD served on a Medicaid waiver. While this is critical work, this reflects only 16 percent of all Oklahomans with I/DD. Solutions must also be developed for the additional 12 percent on the waiver waiting list and the 72 percent who are not currently known to the waiver system. Those on the waiting list may not be reviewed for eligibility for more than a decade and still may not qualify for supports. Further, community supports must be in place to allow caregivers of individuals with I/DD to work.

It is the responsibility of us all to look at what lies ahead and beyond our immediate struggle to create a better future that is not captive to reactive policies and systems focused on putting out fires. By coming together to launch innovative solutions in communities across the state, we can avoid larger challenges in the future and build a stronger state today for all Oklahomans.

Fortunately, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 offers states flexibility to engage across sectors to develop innovative models for sharing resources and leveraging private investment for improving outcomes. The outcomes mean a good life for Oklahomans with disabilities and their families, and strengthen our workforce—a win-win for Oklahoma.

More is possible. Watch this space.

About Cross-Sector Innovations

CSI promotes social innovation by bringing together business, government and nonprofit resources for creative solutions to community and statewide challenges. CSI is a partner of Creative Oklahoma ( For more information, please contact Ed Long at or 405-922-7580. Follow us on Facebook at and Twitter @C_S_Innovations.

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