COUNTY IMPLEMENTATION OF LAURA’S LAW MOVES FORWARD
SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County may be ready to implement Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), also known as Laura’s Law, as early as February 2022 according to a staff report presented to the County Board of Supervisors this week.
“I’m pleased to see this program moving forward,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who recommended that the Board vote to opt in to the program in March. “There are folks in our community who have a right to mental health care but unfortunately have not yet been able to access the support they need because they are too ill to know they need treatment. Soon we’ll have a chance to get them some help.”
AOT will allow the County to provide court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment to residents with severe mental illness. The program is targeted specifically to individuals whose illnesses are so severe that they don’t recognize the need for treatment, have a history of refusing or abandoning treatment services, and are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision.
At a meeting earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors reviewed and approved plans from County staff to implement the program, including hiring and training of new staff to run the program; education and training of community members, service providers, and County staff on how to help patients access and navigate the program; and selection of an advisory committee with community stakeholders to provide ongoing program improvement recommendations.
The Board of Supervisors also approved the addition of 11 new positions to support the program, including a psychologist, social workers, and other supportive staff, at a previous meeting in August.
County staff have estimated that between 39 and 236 County residents could meet the AOT/Laura’s Law criteria each year, out of a County population of approximately 1.9 million. Of those, only 20 to 50 may require mandated treatment through the AOT/Laura’s Law process.
“With AOT in place, we have an opportunity to help these individuals start along the road to recovery and to a more fulfilling life,” wrote the Santa Clara County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in a letter submitted to the Board’s Health and Hospital Committee back in March.
Additional information on the AOT implementation plan can be found here: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=SplitView&MeetingID=13227&MediaPosition=&ID=107325&CssClass=.