Special Needs


Click the photo to watch Dave's video about his son Brian.


I wanted to share with you my new ad that tells a story about someone very close to my heart - my son, Brian.

You see, Brian is profoundly disabled. He doesn’t speak or walk, but his smile can light up a room. He is truly a gift from God. 

Raising a special needs child as young parents wasn’t always easy. But Brian made Debbie and me better people, better parents, better spouses and he will make me a better governor. 

It’s a governor’s responsibility to protect those who can’t protect themselves, to speak for those who can’t speak, and to stand for those who can’t walk.  And you have my word that as Governor I will always stand up for the most vulnerable among us and their families.


Dave's Six Point Plan for Special Needs Families

Dave and Debbie are blessed to be the parents of four children, one of whom has some extra special needs. Brian, who is 33 years old, has both microcephaly and cerebral palsy. He is non-verbal and cannot walk unassisted, requiring 24-hour care. Actively involved in the support networks, the White’s have navigated the systems in place to support the families of loved ones. With that personal experience, Dave will implement a ‘Six Point’ plan focused on special needs families.

1) End the Support Services Waiver Waitlist

Thousands of Pennsylvania families sit in limbo for a requested benefits 
waiver. The wait can be costly and stressful. Dave will fight for families to receive waiver benefits no later than 90 days after an individual is Medicaid- eligible or begins transition services. 

2) ‘Top-to-Bottom’ Support System Review 

Empower a Commission that will include parents, state agencies, providers, 
and major health care network leaders to provide a top-to-bottom review of the support systems in place within 180 days and develop a list of recommendations to be implemented. The Commission will be chaired by a parent, as those who utilize the system can provide the strongest vision for modernization.

3) Retain and Reward Strong Providers and Caregivers

Dave will fight to implement models of care that incentivizes providers to 
train, retain and reward the best possible caregivers. This includes providing incentives to grow a workforce that provides Home & Community Based Services, wrap around, nursing and respite services. Furthermore, Dave will create a process to purge abusive caregivers. 

4) Foster a Full Range of Housing Options 

Families and individuals should have housing options from which to choose 
that best serves their needs. Dave will pilot opportunities like ‘intended communities’ for those families who believe it could be the best option for them, as well as create a more robust respite system or grant program to
allow families to create a space at home that fits their individual needs.

5) I
nvest in Innovation

Dave will spur Pennsylvania’s world class universities, investors, and 
entrepreneurs to identify opportunities for innovation within the special needs community including but not limited to communication and mobility. Dave will cut red tape to quickly test and take new innovations to market.

6) Career Pathways

Dave will make Pennsylvania the national leader in career pathways for those 
with special needs. He will incentivize employers to create hiring programs around neurodiverse populations. In addition, the program will help employers educate their workforces on how to successfully interact with neurodiverse workers.