"During the course of my tenure, the goal is to eradicate that waiting list," Corbett told about 50 advocates, disabled people, and family members.
He said the current system spent money to educate children with disabilities and then cut them off at 21, which did not make sense. "We have to rethink," he said.
Vision for Equality invited Corbett to Philadelphia to thank him for agreeing to allocate $17.8 million to take 1,130 people off the waiting list this year, the first time in two years that anyone made it off the list.
Some advocates were less impressed. About 30 protested his visit outside the Arch Street offices.
"We have gone backward in the two years he has been in office," said Nancy Salandra, an organizer with ADAPT, a disability-rights group that coordinated the protest.
She cited Corbett's cuts to other social services, including General Assistance, which provided $205 to individuals who were short-term disabled, victims of domestic violence, or recovering from substance abuse.
Alexander told the audience that finding the funding would take work. "It's not going to be perfect," he said. "The road is often bumpy in life."
Families who attended the meeting thanked Corbett for helping their children, but urged him to do more.
Tom Carasiti of Lackawaxen told Corbett how relieved he and his wife, Teri, were when their son Glenn, 21, got off the waiting list, which allowed him to get a job packing car parts and other items. State funding helps subsidize his and other jobs.
Glenn Carasiti told Corbett how he carefully packaged items at work. "I close it up nice and tightly," he said.
Tom Carasiti said the cost of paying for such programs was small compared with the toll on families who worried that they would have to quit their jobs to stay home with disabled adults who had no one else to care for them or no job to go to.
"These are your most vulnerable citizens," Tom Carasiti said, "and they need our protection."
Harlena Morton of North Philadelphia told Corbett she was unable to concentrate on her job as a high school counselor when her daughter Brittany, who has a rare disorder, Nager syndrome, no longer received funding after she turned 21.
"Her life stopped being normal," Morton said. "Instead of Brittany going to work, Brittany sat at home for a year - a very long year. She napped. She watched TV."
Morton said she was thrilled when she got a call in August saying Brittany had finally gotten off the waiting list. Brittany now has a job at a workshop.
"Boy, was that a happy day," Morton said, "and I have to tell you, I did my hallelujah dance."
Stacie DePrimo of Blossburg, who turns 21 Thursday, is not sure what will happen when funding runs out that helps her foster family pay for her care. She is intellectually disabled and would need funding for an aide to help her navigate a job.
She would love to have one, she said, "something that could involve cooking."
Contact Miriam Hill at 215-854-552- or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @miriamhill.
Inquirer staff writer Amy Worden contributed to this article.