My Laura’s Law journey (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Journey — August 11, 2014) finds another kind recognition for pursuing Senate Bill 585 and implementing assisted outpatient treatment at the County of Orange.
The Treatment Advocacy Center, in its Fall 2014 Catalyst newsletter, recognized me as one of their "Champions of Change" from around the nation (see http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/catalysts/tacatalyst%20fall%2014.pdf). "Supervisor John Moorlach introduced Laura’s Law to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which unanimously voted to adopt Laura’s Law in May."
I’m looking forward to being a change agent in Sacramento. If you have not done so already, please vote on Tuesday, March 17th, to make it possible.
A Sea Change In California
California is quickly approaching the tipping point for assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) availability as a growing number of counties statewide vote to implement Laura’s Law.
First enacted by the California legislature in 2002, Laura’s Law struggled under the weight of funding restrictions and a unique requirement that it can only be implemented in counties where it has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. Through 2013, only Nevada County had opted to fully implement the law.
But following several high-profile tragedies and a 2013 law that clarified the availability of state funding, counties across the state are now rushing to embrace Laura’s Law.
As we went to press, more than 14.5 million Californians had gained access to court-ordered outpatient treatment just since January, with numerous additional counties actively considering adoption.
In May, Orange County supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a Laura’s Law resolution championed by Supervisor John Moorlach. The county is scheduled to begin providing AOT this month, with $4.4 million allocated to provide assessment and treatment for an estimated 120 people annually. Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas – a homeless man with schizophrenia who was beaten to death by Fullerton police in 2011 – said he hopes the program will help "the other Kelly Thomases out there."
July saw San Francisco vote to fully implement the program. With a poll showing overwhelming public support for Laura’s Law in the city, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell announced he would bring the issue to a public referendum in November unless he won approval from the county Board of Supervisors. Laura’s Law was approved on a 9-2 vote. "We changed the status quo in San Francisco," said Supervisor Farrell of the vote. "By implementing Laura’s Law, we are going to help the most vulnerable individuals suffering from mental illness across our city and provide the families the support they deserve." San Francisco’s program will also require the county mental health director to establish a "care team" for AOT participants that includes another person with mental illness, a forensic psychiatrist and a person with a family member suffering from mental illness.
Los Angeles County was next, voting in July to expand its AOT pilot program countywide. The county had launched a small program soon after Laura’s Law took effect in 2003. Longtime supporter Supervisor Michael Antonovich championed the expansion, arguing that Laura’s Law is a compassionate, comprehensive path to recovery. Brittney Weissman, executive director of NAMI’s Los Angeles affiliate, said after the vote that this will help "very ill individuals – who often don’t recognize that they’re sick – get well and stay in the community so that they can later continue in treatment on their own." The expansion will allow an additional 300 people to participate.
Most recently, on August 26 the Placer County Board of Supervisors authorized implementation of Laura’s Law. The county allocated $400,000 in MHSA funds to serve up to 20 people in the upcoming year. County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said the program will "make Placer County a better place to live."
This e-mail was sent by the Moorlach for Senate campaign — www.MoorlachforSenate.com
Those willing to assist financially can go to www.MoorlachforSenate.com, call Phyllis Schneider at 714-368-0260, or mail a check made out to Moorlach for Senate 2015, and mail it to 360 E. 1st Street, #736, Tustin, CA, 92780.