During the latter part of FY 2021, STAR began to foster a relationship with the ALS Association-Alabama Chapter to begin providing services to their consumers as they do not have trained/qualified staff available. The ALS Association - Alabama Chapter Director of Care Services and Public Policy has been aware of STAR, Alabama’s AT Act Program, for many years and believes this to be the best platform to serve their consumers. The major concern was ensuring that their consumers’ needs were met adequately and in a timely manner as people living with ALS are in the fight against time and every minute truly counts. Other concerns were how the equipment inventory would be stored/housed and maintained; how consumers will access the technical assistance they need to effectively utilize the equipment loans. Some of the services provided were conducting an inventory of the AT equipment to determine usefulness, estimated value and replacement costs, AT assessments, coordinated ordering/purchase of AT, AT demonstrations and AT loans, updating equipment for future use, and training consumers, family members, caretakers on use of the equipment. No funding was provided to STAR, but Alabama ALS Chapter funded all associated costs.
As a result of this initial partnership, STAR and ALS Association-Alabama Chapter plan to enter a MOU or MOA to officially identify roles and responsibilities and procedures to serve ALS consumers. ALS Association - Alabama Chapter reported having a current inventory of AAC devices in the amount of $200,000, and will update/purchase additional equipment, as needed. STAR will house and maintain the equipment in the Lending Library. Although priority will be given to ALS consumers, STAR will have the opportunity to utilize the equipment for other Alabamians with disabilities. With this partnership, there is the potential to incorporate billable services levels to serve as a revenue stream to leverage funding for STAR. Although this is one specific disability group, STAR anticipates replicating this model with other organizations such as ADOE (Alabama Department of Education), ADSS (Alabama Department of Senior Services), ADRS (Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services), UCP (United Cerebral Palsy), and Alabama CILs (Centers for Independent Living). These partnerships will ultimately generate increased referrals and enable STAR to provide services to Alabamians with disabilities across a lifespan.