FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022
SAN JOSE, CA – San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined California Governor Gavin Newsom, state legislators and local leaders in San Jose today for the signing of Senate Bill 1338, the bill that establishes CARE Court – a state program that guarantees treatment for Californians suffering from severe mental illness.
“Today marks the day that local governments, like the City and County of San Diego, stand united with the State to say we will no longer turn a blind eye to Californians suffering from severe mental illness. Rather, we will step up and guarantee services to those who need them,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “I want to thank the authors of this bill, the Legislature, the broad coalition that support CARE Court and, most of all, Governor Newsom and his team. We now will do the hard work to make sure CARE Court is successful in getting folks help and saving lives.”
In his State of the City address this past January, Mayor Gloria called for state action on mental and behavioral health in order to help local government address homelessness. In March, Mayor Gloria joined Governor Newsom to announce the CARE Court proposal and has been a leading voice in support ever since.
CARE Court, contained in Senate Bill 1338, authored by Sens. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), is designed to provide individuals who are struggling with repeated behavioral health crises a pathway to the housing and health services they need. The law requires counties to provide comprehensive treatment to those suffering from severe mental illness. It codifies a process for court-ordered, individualized interventions and services, stabilizing medication, advanced mental health directives and housing assistance.
First responders, service providers, healthcare professionals and family members would be empowered to refer individuals to CARE Court, at which time the court would have a behavioral health professional conduct an evaluation to determine if they are a good candidate. Referred individuals would be represented by a public defender and have access to a volunteer supporter, and if the person opts in – as an alternative to jail or a locked facility – they would be provided a CARE plan, managed by a CARE team in the community, for up to 24 months that guarantees supportive services, as well as access to medication and housing resources.
Conservatorship – where a judge places a gravely disabled person and their affairs under the control of someone else – is a last resort. CARE Court, on the other hand, is voluntary, offering a new way to avoid conservatorship by having government intervene with services earlier. It’s a program that creates a shared responsibility between the individual and the government.
With the bill now law, California’s Department of Health Care Services will develop and publish guidelines for CARE Court and stand up a working group to coordinate implementation with counties and the courts. Implementation will be phased, with the first set of counties required to start Oct. 1, 2023. San Diego County is included in the first phase.
“Getting to this point wasn’t isn’t easy, and today isn’t mission accomplished,” added Mayor Gloria. “While CARE Court is a major step forward, we cannot stop here. We need to do more on mental health in this state. It is absolutely critical that we modernize our 1960s-era laws that govern conservatorship, and I am committed to supporting those reforms and more next year.”
Click here to watch the full press conference, which includes Mayor Gloria’s remarks.