San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Approves Laura’s Law

At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a recommendation to implement Laura’s Law was approved. Laura’s Law provides for an adult living with a serious mental illness to be court ordered into Assisted Outpatient Treatment if they meet the additional eligibility criteria listed below.

  • Unable to “survive safely” in the community without “supervision”;
  • Has a history of “lack of compliance with treatment” as evidenced by at least one of the following:
    1. Been hospitalized/incarcerated two or more times in the last 36 months due to mental illness; or
    2. Demonstrated violent behavior towards self or others in the last 48 months.
  • Has been offered treatment on a voluntary basis and refused it; and
  • Is “deteriorating”.

This recommendation was first brought to the Board on May 19th. The Board members had questions on how this would be implemented and what has been the experience in Orange County which began implementation approximately six months ago.

Key findings from Orange County include that over 70 individuals have agreed to services voluntarily and 5 were referred to court but reached agreement to accept services. Staff from Orange County stressed the importance and value of outreach and engagement efforts, that they have successfully engaged individuals when released from jail, and they have received a high volume of calls most of which do not meet the eligibility criteria.

Included as part of the Board’s approval is establishing within BHRS a team to do outreach, engagement, assessment and referral and to establish over a two year period 50 Full Service Partnership slots. The Board also directed BHRS to return after one year of implementation to report on what has transpired and any recommendations.

Funding to implement Laura’s Law will be finalized in September. We estimate the start up phase to take up to six months. Referrals will  be accepted after staff are in placed, procedures established, and the FSP slots (our equivalent to Assisted Outpatient Treatment) are available.

As part of the start up phase we will be conducting community education for family members, law enforcement, and health and behavioral health providers to make sure that all have the most accurate information regarding the parameters of Laura’s Law and the services.