Passed in the Legislature with overwhelming support, CARE Court is a first-in-the-nation framework to empower individuals suffering from untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disordersCARE Court is bolstered by the state’s $15.3 billion in funding to tackle homelessness and $11.6 billion annually in mental health services
SAN JOSE – Alongside state and local leaders and Californians impacted by mental illness, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation enacting CARE Court, a paradigm shift that will provide individuals with severe mental health and substance use disorders the care and services they need to get healthy.The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Act – SB 1338 by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) – will provide help upstream, ahead of conservatorships and outside the walls of institutions. Under CARE Court, families, clinicians, first responders and others will be able to refer individuals suffering from schizophrenia spectrum or psychotic disorders. “With overwhelming support from the Legislature and stakeholders across California, CARE Court will now become a reality in our state, offering hope and a new path forward for thousands of struggling Californians and empowering their loved ones to help,” said Governor Newsom. “I thank our legislators and the broad coalition of partners who made this day possible and look forward to our work ahead together to implement this transformative program in communities across California.” CARE Court will be implemented statewide and will start with a phased-in approach. The first cohort to implement CARE Court includes the counties of Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and San Francisco.
CARE Court received bipartisan and near-unanimous approval in both the state Senate and Assembly. The framework is supported by unprecedented funding under the state’s $15.3 billion investment in addressing homelessness, including $1.5 billion for behavioral bridge housing; more than $11.6 billion annually for mental health programs throughout California; and more than $1.4 billion for our health and human services workforce. An additional $63 million in CARE Court start-up funds was provided for counties, courts, self-help and legal aid. “I have seen first-hand the good that can come when our judicial, executive, and legislative branches work together to address delicate populations and nuanced issues like mental health, veterans, at-risk youth, and substance use,” said Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana). “The individual frameworks and best practices for collaboration exist here – and we pulled them together in SB 1338 for something new and revolutionary in California. I’m proud to have been able to spearhead this effort with Senator Eggman and look forward to more advances in the years ahead.” “It is an inescapable conclusion – with the evidence observable in community after community in California – that our behavioral health system is broken and has allowed too many people with severe mental illness to fall through the cracks,” said Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). “The crisis is playing out on our streets and Californians want an answer to the crisis of conscience we all feel when we see this suffering firsthand. The CARE Act provides a critical new on-ramp into the behavioral health system for a population of people that are the hardest to reach. Basic human dignity requires us to put our full effort into helping get care for people struggling with severe mental illness on our streets. I applaud Governor Newsom and Secretary Ghaly for their leadership in crafting this bold and much needed reform. And I want to thank my colleague Senator Umberg for the strong partnership in shepherding the CARE Act through the legislature.” CARE Court was created based on the evidence that people with untreated psychosis can be stabilized and housed in community-based care settings, with treatment and support. The plan focuses on people with schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, who may also have substance use challenges. “The CARE Act recognizes that to serve those with the most complex behavioral health conditions, we must do the hard work of prioritizing those who need help the most, providing a comprehensive CARE plan that honors self-determination to the greatest extent possible, and holding ourselves accountable to delivering services and housing that are key to long term stability and recovery,” said Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Today is significant and would not have been possible without the contributions of the many passionate and thoughtful individuals and organizations we have engaged with over the past many months to help craft this unprecedented and innovative legislation. On the shoulders of those who leaned in to get us to this point, we now shift our full energy to implementing the CARE Act program in counties across the state. Rolling up sleeves to collaborate, partner and plan so those who can benefit from this new pathway can do so as soon as possible.” CARE Court will provide individuals with clinically appropriate, community-based and court-ordered Care Plans consisting of culturally and linguistically competent county mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. These include short-term stabilization medications, wellness and recovery supports, social services and housing. Services are provided to the individual while they live in the community. Plans can be between 12-24 months. In addition to their full clinical team, the client-centered approach also includes a volunteer supporter to help individuals make self-directed care decisions, and an attorney. “NAMI stands proud to support the CARE Act and looks forward to seeing this legislation become a reality in every community throughout the state. CARE Court will be a lifeline to thousands of individuals across California looking for help to live a more fulfilling life,” said NAMI California CEO Jessica Cruz. The CARE Court framework includes real accountability. Counties and other local governments could be issued fines by the court if they are out of compliance. That money will be placed in the CARE Act Accountability Fund and will be used to support the efforts of the local government entities that paid the fines to serve individuals. For more information, visit https://www.chhs.ca.gov/care-court/