The Health and Hospital Committee of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will be holding a special meeting on March 24 to discuss whether to implement Laura’s Law in Santa Clara County, or opt out of the program. This an opportunity for you to urge the supervisors to implement the program in Santa Clara County.
NAMI Santa Clara County supports the implementation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), Laura’s Law and is asking the County not to opt out of implementing the program!
Wherever implemented in California, the AOT program has shown widespread success in providing needed treatment, REDUCING hospitalizations, homelessness, and incarceration, and with significant cost SAVINGS! This is also the ONLY OPTION for families having a loved one living with mental illness; these families are often desperate to get treatment for family members but are generally barred from helping, even to warn of potentially volatile behavior.
Laura’s Law (AOT) is the only program that addresses the need of individuals who will not engage in the services. It addresses the needs of a group of very ill individuals, before they end up in the hospital, homeless or in Jail.
Share your experiences and tell the supervisors that the time has come to implement Laura’s Law in Santa Clara County using this letter as a SAMPLE LETTER.
In September 2020 Governor Newsom Signed AB 1976 into law. AB 1976 updates Laura’s law, Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). One of the provisions of this update is a new rule that counties have to implement AOT unless the county chooses to opt-out By May 1st, 2021. The changes were discussed at the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital Committee.
The Behavioral Health Services Department presented a report on February 17 describing the various programs currently run by the department. They indicated that they expect to send a report in April to the Board of Supervisors, recommending that Santa Clara County opt-out of the program.
Supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee wanted to have more discussion about AOT and set up a date for a special committee meeting of the Health and Hospital Committee for March 24, 10:00 AM. This is a public meeting and time will be allocated for public comment.
Laura’s Law first passed in 2002 and since revised, enabled counties to start Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs for people with severe mental illness who are deemed likely to deteriorate to the point that they would meet the standard for involuntary commitment if they didn’t get help. Counties that voted to take part in the program had to first offer intensive outpatient treatment on a voluntary basis. If a person declined to take part, the law authorizes county officials to institute a judicial proceeding and allows judges, after a hearing, to order them to receive outpatient treatment. AB 1976 would change several aspects of the program, including these: It would require counties that do not wish to take part to opt-out of the program, rather than allowing counties to opt-in. It would extend the program beyond 2022, the current sunset date, and make it permanent. And it would allow groups of counties to implement the program together.
2018-2019 Key Highlights and Developments
This report reflects aggregate outcomes for 228 individuals from 13 counties that reported court-involved client data to DHCS. The following reflects key highlights for this reporting period:
- Homelessness decreased by a 30% change;
- Hospitalization decreased by a 33% change;
- Contact with law enforcement decreased by a 43% change;
- Some individuals were able to secure employment or obtain volunteer positions;
- Victimization was reduced by an 85% change;
- Violent behavior decreased by a 64% change;
- Clients presenting with a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder reduced substance use by a 34% change;
- Most counties reported improvements in clients social functioning and independent living skills; and,
- Client and family satisfaction surveys indicated satisfaction with AOT services.
There are four important developments for this reporting period:
Three additional counties provided data on AOT court-involved clients as compared to 2017-2018;
Twenty five percent of total individuals required court involvement to participate in AOT services, with the majority entering into treatment voluntarily;
Sixty percent of petitioned individuals received services through a court settlement; and,
Aggregate outcomes indicated a positive impact on the three elements mandated by the statute governing AOT – homelessness, hospitalizations, and incarceration.