CARE Court

CARE Court Bills Amended 

AB 2830 (Bloom) The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program and SB 1338 (Umberg) Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court Program, have been amended. These bills now include fairly detailed language as to how the program is envisioned to work; however, more language is under development. These bills will now be heard in policy committees as has been the preference of legislative leadership since the Governor announced his proposal.

As CalMatters reported “As state leaders zero in on mental health reform, lawmakers unveiled a pair of bills Thursday that seek to codify Newsom’s plan to develop a framework for courts to force people with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders into treatment. The bill language as of Thursday was no more concrete than Newsom’s proposal, but lawmakers said it would be updated within 24 hours.”

  • Newsom said in a Thursday press release: “I thank the Legislature for moving with urgency to introduce this legislation. … Passing this legislation in a timely manner is incredibly important to help those in desperate need of services receive the support they deserve.”
  • The Governor wants lawmakers to approve CARE Court as part of the state budget, which means it could take effect as early as July. This has alarmed some longtime Capitol observers, including CalMatters columnist Dan Walters, who argued the idea “needs to be fully fleshed out” and “fully vetted before enactment.”

Most bills like this typically would not make their way through policy committees in both houses in time for the policy to be included in the budget or a budget trailer bill by June 15, the deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget. The bills may be expedited to comport with the budget deadline; more likely, each bill will be heard in its respective house then the issue will continued to be debated in budget subcommittees after the Governor releases his state budget update (aka, “The May Revision”) by May 10.

Los Angeles County Support 

Los Angeles County – all five of the county supervisors – submitted a letter to the Governor in support of the CARE Court program.  You may view the letter here. The letter mentions that, “The County’s Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) for example, offers court-ordered mental health treatment and housing in lieu of jail for qualifying individuals who have committed certain crimes and agree to the terms.” For more information about some current activities and approaches in LA County as well as the challenges faced every day, you may view a minidocumentary featuring Kristen Ochoa, Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Office of Diversion and Reentry in the Department of Health Services, here

Even More Groups Weigh In 

The California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies and others have sent a letter to California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Gahly outlining their preliminary feedback of CARE Court. You may view the letter here

Mental Health America of California along with other state and national leaders in behavioral health, criminal justice, substance use disorder services, and homelessness policy and advocacy also weighed in. You may view their letter here

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