On January 30, we opened ASSIST, the first Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program in Ventura County, CA. The program aims to provide recovery-oriented, evidence-based Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services to adults with serious mental illness who might otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in services.
The Laura’s Law program is the first of its kind in the county, and was made possible through a Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant.
“We are the only SAMHSA granted AOT program in California, which is exciting,” said Shana L. Burns, Administrator at ASSIST. “This means that the program is being evaluated by both the federal government and the county in terms of services. The SAMHSA grant helps to ensure that the ASSIST program is in alignment with Laura’s Law.”
The ASSIST program works with Ventura County Behavioral Health Department’s (VCBHD) Rapid Integrated Support & Engagement (RISE) program with the referral process. RISE program staff are responsible for conducting outreach and engagement to ensure that individuals with severe mental illness are connected to VCBHD for mental health and other supportive services.
“We meet with the RISE team on a weekly basis for an hour,” Shana said. “The RISE team screens the referral calls for ASSIST, goes out to meet with the individual in question to see if they meet all nine AOT criteria, and sends them to us if they do. Once they are referred, we start our engagement process.”
“I think what I am really excited about is that we have that opportunity to try to outreach and engage with individuals to see if the different types of services that we at Telecare can provide to them is something that they would be willing to undergo voluntarily versus being required by a court order to do that,” said Crystal Eastburn, Clinical Director at ASSIST.
Outreach and engagement is a unique component to the program. Unlike other AOT programs that receive individuals after they have been court-ordered, ASSIST has a 90-day engagement period before a court petition has been made for services.
“It speaks to the whole RCCS in terms of respecting the individual and their choice and allow them to be making a choice to participate veruses being required to participate. We try to give them as much opportunity to maintain their right,” Crystal said.
Explore our Roundup of Telecare’s Court-Ordered Care Programs.