Seven Counties Begin CARE Court Experiment
The first cohort of counties have begun implementing the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Program to address severe mental illness and substance abuse that often contribute to the homeless crisis.
The cohort includes the counties of Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and San Francisco. They’re working to launch the CARE Act by October 2023.
City and county leaders from the first cohort met with state officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, Thursday. The event was hosted by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), the Department of Health Care Services and the Judicial Council of California. It will be followed by a meeting of community stakeholders in early 2023.
“Cities and counties are truly on the frontlines of the state’s behavioral health crisis, and the officials who gathered yesterday are eager to get to work on this challenge,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “I’m proud San Diego is in the inaugural group that will be implementing CARE Court, and have every confidence that the folks who convened yesterday have the ability and experience to make this program work to help Californians who are struggling with mental health.”
“The Care Act is a new tool that will help local communities address individuals struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, many of whom are sadly living on our streets,” added Supervisor Nathan Fletcher of San Diego County’s Fourth District. “I am appreciative of everyone participating in this effort, from our partners in the judicial branch, to our behavioral health staff, and others – who have all joined together in uncharted territory to collectively build a roadmap for other counties to follow.”
Under the CARE Act, a person experiencing untreated mental illness can be connected with services and provided a court-ordered treatment plan for up to 24 months. The action may be initiated by family, county and community-based social services, behavioral health providers, or first responders. A community-based team will oversee the treatment program, which may include medication and a housing plan. Those who fail to complete the plan may be hospitalized or referred for a conservatorship. Determination of eligibility will be made by special CARE courts run by counties. County governments that fail to meet their obligations under the CARE Act may be sanctioned.