05 special needs home schoolThe coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for every part of our daily lives. If you’re a parent like me, you’re probably well aware of the difficulties with remote learning. Unfortunately, these difficulties have impacted some families more than others.

Last month, I heard from parents and school administrators in our community about their concerns that special needs children were not able to access caregiving services during remote learning. This was due to a loophole that restricts families with special needs children from having respite care during the school day. This is an appropriate safeguard during normal times when students are able to attend school. But in a pandemic when children may be kept at home, these safeguards would not allow the program's intended purposes to work to provide care for children and relief for parents.

As soon as I heard about this issue, I got to work. I immediately urged the Trump Administration to take action to rectify this situation and get support for special needs children in our community. After directly appealing to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, I am thrilled to report that last week, CMS granted a waiver for North Carolina to provide home and community-based services for these at-risk children.

This would not have happened without parents reaching out to my office and is just part of my job to work on behalf of everyone in our community to solve problems. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges, families with special needs children deserve the peace-of-mind that they can continue to access caregiving services during this time. As we continue to address the coronavirus, I am committed to getting our community the resources we need so that ALL children can succeed.

In addition to supporting students at this time, I also remain focused on rebuilding our economy.

Also last week, I was proud to announce a $13.1 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant award from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway.

I have had the pleasure of touring the ACWR rail operations based in Montgomery County. A lifeline throughout our entire region, the ACWR is critical to transporting goods and supporting jobs across the 8th District and our state.

Last week’s announced grant will enable many growth opportunities, particularly in rural areas, between Moore, Montgomery, Stanly, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties. The funding will greatly improve ACWR's infrastructure and freight operations and will attract new industry and jobs into this service area.

It was a thrill to call ACWR Railway President Julie White to tell her the grant was awarded. Julie told me this grant was a “game changer” that will allow critical improvements to the rail line that will benefit farms and other businesses throughout our region. I am also excited about the impact this will have on bringing new jobs to our community.

As your Congressman, I will continue to fight for common sense solutions to rebuild our economy, renew the American dream for all Americans and restore our way of life. You can count on me to keep coming to work every day on your behalf, staying focused on public health, and doing whatever it takes to emerge from this time stronger than ever.

Picture: A loophole prevented families with special needs students from accessing caregiver services during remote learning. After appealing to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, North Carolina was granted a waiver.

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