Overview of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (“Kendra's Law”)
In 1999, New York State enacted legislation that provides for court-ordered Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. This legislation is commonly referred to as “Kendra’s Law.”
The intent of Kendra’s Law is to increase the likelihood that high-risk individuals with serious mental illness will engage in treatment services that will best meet their needs. Some individuals may be court-ordered to comply with treatment and supportive services. Other individuals may enter into a voluntary agreement with the county, allowing them the opportunity to participate in treatment services without a court order that requires them to do so.
Intensive case management services are an essential part of court-ordered treatment. The court may also order a person to keep outpatient mental health and chemical dependency appointments, take medication, live in a specific residential setting, and have someone (“representative payee”) manage their funds.
A person may be ordered to comply with Assisted Outpatient Treatment if the court finds that 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 noncompliance with treatment for mental illness which has led to either two hospitalizations for mental illness in the preceding three years, or resulted in at least one act of violence toward self or others, or threats of serious physical harm to self or others, within the preceding four 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.
Before a court may order AOT, it must be clear that AOT is the least restrictive alternative for the person. Thus, if a less restrictive program or plan for treatment exists that could effectively deal with the person's mental illness, the court will not issue an order for assisted outpatient treatment.
For Further Information Contact:
Kimberly Butler, MS, LMSW
Forensic Services Manager
80 West Main Street, 4th Floor
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: 585 753-6335
For more information, please visit the New York State Office of Mental Health website.