Thursday, January 29, 2015

County supervisors vote to fully implement Laura’s Law

From page A1 | June 11, 2014 |

WOODLAND — Yolo County became just the third county in California to fully implement Laura’s Law when supervisors voted Tuesday to turn what was a yearlong pilot project into a regular program.

Named after a Nevada County woman who was murdered by a man with a long history of mental illness, the law allows courts to order involuntary outpatient treatment for individuals with a serious mental illness, a recent history of hospitalization or violent behavior, as well as noncompliance with a voluntary treatment plan indicating a likelihood of becoming dangerous to themselves or others.

The state Legislature approved Laura’s Law in 2003, but up until this year, only Nevada County had fully implemented the law. That changed last month when the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to fully implement the measure and Yolo County followed suit on Tuesday.

The law has been in effect locally for the past year through a pilot project that opened up four slots for what the law refers to as assisted outpatient treatment. During that time, four Yolo County residents entered the program — two are currently receiving services, one is in the engagement period and the fourth became ineligible due to court proceedings.

The small sample size and relatively short duration of the pilot project has produced little in the way of empirical data to support fully implementing the program, but local officials urged supervisors to do so nonetheless, especially in the wake of a spate of tragedies— locally and across the country — in which the mental health of an individual involved has been an issue and family members have decried their inability to do anything about it.

That was reportedly the case for the parents of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six people near UC Santa Barbara last month, as well as the family of Aquelin Talamantes, the Davis woman who was recently convicted of drowning her 5-year-old daughter.

“Oftentimes,” said Yolo County Mental Health Director Karen Larsen, “families are just desperate for something, some kind of help to prevent some of these really horrible outcomes that we’ve seen not only locally but also across the state and the nation lately … people that are in need of help and didn’t get it.

“We don’t have a lot of people referred for treatment,” she acknowledged, “but the people we have had referred, we’ve had some pretty amazing outcomes.”

Under the law, seriously mentally ill individuals can be referred to the county mental health director by a parent, spouse, sibling or adult child; a roommate; a licensed mental health professional or treating doctor; or a peace officer.

After an investigation by her department, Larsen then chooses whether to file a petition with the court for assisted outpatient treatment.

In Nevada County, which has had a decade to collect data on Laura’s Law, few referrals even made it to court.

Rather, merely making contact with referred individuals often got them into treatment voluntarily, that county’s program director, Carol Stanchfield, told Yolo County supervisors last year.

If Nevada County’s experience holds true in Yolo County, an uptick in referrals also could be seen as the program continues, said John Buck, CEO of Turning Point, which operates the assisted outpatient programs in both Nevada and Yolo counties.

“We also had a very slow start-up in Nevada County,” Buck told supervisors on Tuesday. “People who could be making referrals aren’t used to it, they’re thinking, ‘Well I’ll let somebody else do it first and see how it works out.’ … There’s sort of a learning curve and the referrals will then likely pick up over the course of the next year.”

Larsen’s department has requested $80,654 in the 2014-15 budget to cover five assisted outpatient treatment slots — three for patients with Medi-Cal and two for patients without.

Bob Schelen, chair of the Yolo County Local Mental Health Board, expressed support Tuesday for making the program permanent.

Like Larsen, Schelen acknowledged a lack of empirical evidence to support turning the pilot project into a full-fledged county program, but he also noted that “you can’t prove a negative.”

“We can’t tell you how many incidents did not happen because of the program,” Schelen said. “But we believe if we can continue it on an ongoing basis, we will collect enough evidence to show this does work.”

Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis, while acknowledging his support for the program, wanted to maintain Laura’s Law as a pilot project in Yolo County until further data could be collected and he made a motion to that effect. But without a second, the motion died.

“Keeping it as a pilot project creates an uncertainty that isn’t necessary,” said Supervisor Don Saylor of Davis, who noted that funding for five assisted outpatient treatment slots is already included in the Mental Health Services Act three-year expenditure plan that was approved by the board earlier this year.

“This is now part of the MHSA plan,” he noted. “It’s budgeted.”

The board then voted 4-1, with Provenza dissenting, to fully implement Laura’s Law as a county program.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy



Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Holman continues to educate and inspire

    By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    ‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Teens arrested after midnight joyride

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Author joins radio show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Tips to protect skin this winter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Measles outbreak grows

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9



    Basement living, with attitude to match

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    50 years since Ash Hall

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Can climate change bring us together?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino coming to a vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10



    Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Two in a row for Devil boys

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Aggies still looking for record hoops win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Treys send Toronto past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8



    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

    College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

    District learns from bomb threat incident

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

    It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Feenstra-Fisher wedding

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9



    A rose by any other name — if there is one

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

    Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Show explores the evolution of dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11





    James George Tingus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6