The Governor’s new proposal for CARE Courts continues to be the most talked about behavioral health issue in California. The implementation of this proposal would fall heavily on California’s counties. This week, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) issued a statement to its members about CARE Courts as follows:

“CSAC is closely engaging with Governor Newsom on his new CARE Court proposal. His announcement last week in Santa Clara County presented it as a new tool that links both the homelessness crisis and individuals living with unmet behavioral health needs.

Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Courts include:

  • A new tool/pathway to refer a person with a psychiatric condition to civil court.
  • Participants can be referred by family members, clinicians, first responders, behavioral health workers, public guardians, and crisis response teams.
  • Participants would be paired with a court-employed “Supporter”.
  • Participants and Supporters must use “Shared Decision Making” model to develop voluntary treatment plan.
  • Treatment plan can include stabilizing medication, housing, and access to behavioral health and social services.
  • County Behavioral Health, Public Defenders, Public Guardians/Conservators, as well as other county services, are envisioned as key providers for the treatment plan. The Governor believes that counties can accommodate these new duties as part of our existing roles and service responsibilities.
  • If a provider of services fails to comply with the treatment plan, that provider – including counties – could be sanctioned by the court.
  • Participation would last up to 12 months, with a single 12-month renewal, after which a person could referred for conservatorship, Full Service Partnerships (FSPs), or involuntary commitment.

CSAC shares Governor Newsom’s urgency to assist those who are unsheltered in our communities. While the Governor estimates about 7,000 to 12,000 Californians would be eligible for CARE Court, this new tool would only serve about six percent of the state’s current homeless population. We welcome discussion about all-of-the-above type strategies in this policy area that may include a refined version of CARE Court while ensuring sufficient funding for increased expectations as well as for related services such as the Peer Support program, Laura’s Law, and Public Guardians and Conservators.

This proposal, and more broadly tackling homelessness, requires all levels of government – counties, cities, and the state – to work together with clearly defined roles and sustainable resources. It’s time to take our homelessness efforts to the next level with a laser focus on creating housing and examining the chronic underfunding of key supportive services. Every level must have some skin in this game, and counties welcome this larger conversation, which is paramount to transform homelessness and behavioral health capacity in the state.

Moving forward, counties require clarity on any county role(s) and new duties, resources, and accountability associated with CARE Court or other homelessness proposals. The CSAC Officers have convened initial conversations with the Governor’s Office and Administration, and your CSAC team is also convening county affiliates and other partners to navigate this issue. The CSAC Board of Directors discussed the proposal on March 3 when it was merely hours old, and the CSAC Executive Committee will discuss in further detail on March 23.

The CARE Court proposal, while innovative, will not solve or end homelessness in our communities until housing and major systemic problems, including accountability, fragmentation, siting, and chronic underfunding are also addressed.”

Governor Newsom Convenes Inaugural CARE Court Roundtable

Governor Newsom held the first in a series of statewide convenings that the Administration will host. The roundtable included health care providers, first responders, outreach workers, representatives from the courts, local officials, and other stakeholders. You may view the press release below as well as the new CARE Court website and a new fact sheet.

New CARE Court Website
CARE Court Proposal Factsheet
Governor’s Press Release

Stake Holder Call Monday, March 14, 2022

The California Health & Human Services Agency will hold a webinar briefing on the Governor’s proposed CARE Court framework. SYASL will participate and report. If you wish to attend the webinar, you may register below.

When: Monday, March 14, 2022 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
Registration: Please register online via Zoom.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.