Kendra's Law: Equal access to care regardless of Race
New York State Office of Mental Health and the providers it funds have historically underserved African American and Hispanic people with serious mental illness. When these individuals have serious mental illness, care is nearly imporssible to come by. "There's no room at the Inn". In 1999, Kendra's Law (Assisted Outpatient Treatment) was introduced state-wide after a succesful pilot program at Bellevue Hospital It was supported by people with mental illness, families of the mentally ill and law enforcement.
Some community providers, and their trade association, opposed Kendra's Law because it limited their ability to cherry pick the easiest to treat for admission to their programs.
When introduced, Kendra's Law (Assisted Outpatient Treatment) was opposed by some providers of mental health services and their trade-association (NYAPRS). They claimed Kendra's Law wouldn't work. Research proved them wrong. So in 2005, they noticed that they were serving more African Americans and Hispanics in their programs. They then packaged that into a faux "study" and shopped it to the legislature claiming Kendra's Law was racially biased.
This was an especially disingenuous claim raised in reaction to the fact that under Kendra’s Law they can be court-ordered to accept historically underserved populations in their programs. But it was a serious charge and needed investigating.
Indpendent study shows Kendra's Law helps everyone equally.
In 2005, the NYS legislature funded a five year study of the claim of bias. The study found people of color are a disproportionately large percentage of NYC’s population and recipients of public services when compared to rest of state. 50% of Kendra’s Law recipients come from NYC. Kendra's Law gives recipients priority access to the best services the city and state have to offer and reduces incarceration, arrest, homelessness, hospitalization and suicide.
Because AOT does not discriminate based on race, Hispanics and African Americans are represented in AOT in proportion to their representation in the community at large. The legislature funded an independent studywhich concluded:
Unfortunately, the existence of an independent study proving that the law is racially neutral, helps people in the program, and 81% of recipients say Kendra's Law "helps them get well and stay well" has not stopped some providers and NYAPRS from continuing to quote out of context in an attempt to convince the legislature to abandon Kendra's Law so they can return to picking the easiest to treat for their programs.
The research is in: Kendra's Law is not only racially neutral, it offers the best services someone can get.
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