In 1988, Congress amended the Developmental Disabilities Act to assure that Council funding was used to fund innovative, non-duplicative projects that promoted employment, community living, and child development opportunities in communities throughout Oklahoma.
Beginning in 1989, the Council negotiated its first five grants under the new federal law. Four of these projects targeted community-based employment; the fifth project provided free dental services statewide for persons with developmental disabilities. While these original projects were not progressive by today’s standards, they represented a significant change in how and where persons with developmental disabilities were provided services in Oklahoma.
The Power Shop in Duncan operated an enclave at Halliburton Industries and placed several individuals at a local Garfield’s Restaurant. Two contracts taught individuals food preparation skills and employed individuals in local restaurants: The Spud Shoppe was operated by People Inc. in Sallisaw; and the “Just Us” sandwich shop was operated by the Center for Family Love in Okarche. The fourth employment project was a flower shop in Tahlequah operated by the Oklahoma Production Center. Variety Health Center in Oklahoma City operated the “D-Dent” program, which coordinated a list of dentists who were willing to donate their services for persons with developmental disabilities. The Council funded each of these projects for three years.