Information on the Program associated with Kendra's Law
Erie County administers a program that provides Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). This Program involves enhanced monitored comprehensive behavioral health services. Services are provided to individuals with a mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. The following questions and answers will help explain this new initiative and how to access Assisted Outpatient Treatment Services in Erie County.
Who may be eligible for AOT?
A person may be eligible to obtain AOT if he or she:
- is at least 18 years of age and suffers from a mental illness; and
- is unlikely to survive in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination; and
- has a history of non-compliance with treatment for mental illness which has led to either 2 hospitalizations for mental illness in the preceding 3 years, or resulted in at least 1 act of violence toward self or others, or threats of serious physical harm to self or others, within the preceding 4 years; and
- is unlikely to accept the treatment recommended in the treatment plan; and
- is in need of AOT to avoid a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in serious harm to self or others; and
- will likely benefit from AOT.
Treatment can be court ordered; however, before a court will order AOT, it must be satisfied that AOT is the least restrictive alternative for the person. Thus, if a less restrictive program of treatment exists that could effectively deal with a person's mental illness and needs, this will be the first option. The goal is to achieve and maintain stability through linkage with the most effective and least restrictive services available. To achieve this goal, the Erie County Department of Mental Health has designated community based Care Coordination Teams such as Programs of Assertive Community Treatment or Health Home Plus Care Management to coordinate and /or deliver AOT services consistent with an Individualized Services Plan.
What is the process for obtaining AOT for someone?
Contact the Erie County Department of Mental Health's AOT Program at 858-7059 or 858-2893. Appropriate staff will respond to your concerns and questions while gathering information and determine if making a referral is appropriate. If appropriate, referrals are submitted via www.eriespoa.org. Once the referral is received, a formal AOT investigation process will begin to determine eligibility.
When does the Court system become involved in the process?
After diligent efforts have been exhausted and a consumer remains at risk, a petition will be initiated to ensure safety and treatment compliance. The petition, which is a formal statement of facts demonstrating that the person meets the criteria for AOT, by the director of community services, must be accompanied by the affidavit of an examining physician. The affidavit must show that the physician examined the person and developed a treatment plan prior to filing a petition, and that the consumer meets the criteria.