County advocates have released updated CARE Court proposed amendments and talking points.

SB 1338 – May 19 version County Proposed Amendments: a mock-up of amendments to SB 1338 sought by counties
Summary of proposed CARE Court changes: handy chart outlining our proposed amendments
CARE Court County Leave Behind: summary document of major county issues with CARE Court

According to the California State Association of Counties, “Counties are key implementers of the CARE Court proposal and partners with the state in the delivery of an array of local services. The following recommendations represent a cohesive and inter-dependent package of policy proposals designed to implement CARE Court framework as proposed by the Administration in a practical and achievable manner.

Fiscal Protections: Major policy change involving state-county partnership programs and services necessitate a shared framework for sharing costs and responsibilities. Such protections – for both the state and counties – were included in 1991 and 2011 Realignment, and more recently in the Division of Juvenile Justice realignment. Counties believe the CARE Court proposal requires statutory provisions that provide protections associated with new responsibilities and associated costs.

Resources: The CARE Court program includes new responsibilities and obligations imposed on counties that require additional resources and ongoing funding. Adequate and sustainable funding will be needed across multiple departments, including county behavioral health, public defender, county counsel, public guardians and conservators, and county social services. For CARE Court to be a successful model and achieve the goal of more access to behavioral health services, the proposal must be coupled with resources.

Sanctions: The proposal to impose sanctions on counties for any instance of alleged “noncompliance” with CARE requirements raises significant concerns. Sanctions should be reserved for deliberate and chronic deficiencies and should be imposed only after a startup “grace period” and meaningful engagement with the responsible state agencies.

Housing: Housing is foundational for addressing homelessness and severe mental illness. To ensure that the state’s recent housing investments are available to serve the CARE Court population, our proposal enhances the May 19 amendments to allow the Superior Court to order housing providers that have received specified state funds to CARE participants to any available housing option or program, as appropriate. Our amendments further refine the list of potential housing options and include housing programs administered by non-profits, for-profits, counties, cities, and Continuums of Care.

Phased-In Implementation: Our coalition recommends a phased-in statewide implementation of the CARE program, with an initial cohort of willing counties for early adoption.”

Last night, CSAP’s Government Affairs Committee and Board discussed a potential position on CARE Court. The GA Committee and Board will meet again on June 16 to discuss further.