January 13, 2023
Governor’s Press Office
Los Angeles County Accelerates CARE Court Implementation to Support Californians with Untreated Severe Mental Illness
Passed in the Legislature with overwhelming support, CARE Court is a first-in-the-nation framework to engage, assist, and empower individuals suffering from untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
Los Angeles County today moved to accelerate its implementation of CARE Court, the state’s new framework to deliver mental health and substance use disorder services to Californians suffering from severe mental health disorders. The County is working to implement the CARE Act by December 1, 2023, one year ahead of schedule.
Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous, will join the original seven counties committed to implementing CARE Court in 2023: the counties of Glenn, San Diego, San Francisco, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Orange and Riverside.
“CARE Court brings real progress and accountability at all levels to fix the broken system that is failing too many Californians in crisis,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “I commend Los Angeles County leaders, the courts, and all the local government partners and stakeholders across the state who are taking urgent action to make this lifesaving initiative a reality for thousands of struggling Californians.”
The announcement comes just days after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to declare a local emergency for homelessness, clearing the way for an expedited and regional response to the crisis.
“We are in a homelessness emergency and we know that many who are living on our streets are struggling with severe mental illness. Governor Newsom’s Care Court model has been a missing piece in our effort to bring people inside,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
“Across Los Angeles County, we have seen the effects of our mental health crisis spilling out onto our streets. Too many residents with severe mental health issues lack adequate treatment and often find themselves in a devastating cycle between our emergency departments, our jails, and falling into homelessness,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “CARE Court will provide people with untreated mental health issues an opportunity to get stabilized in a compassionate manner. I want to thank Governor Newsom for including Los Angeles County as one of the first participants, and I look forward to working with him to ensure a swift and effective implementation.”
“I support bringing CARE Court to our county. It allows us to be on the ground floor of a new program where a lot of processes and implementation details still need to be worked out. Our county needs to have a seat at the table so we can effectively bring healing to individuals living with debilitating mental illness on our streets,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Fifth District. “We need a coordinated and consistent approach to help these individuals, and CARE Court is poised to help us meet that mission. Severe mental illness doesn’t resolve itself.”
“I want to thank the Governor for his leadership. It is profoundly inhumane to allow people to suffer mental illness and die on our streets,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. “We will lock arms with Los Angeles County, building CARE Courts and expanding mental health and substance abuse programs to help Angelenos get well while respecting all civil liberties.”
“The Superior Court of Los Angeles County is eager to collaborate with our state and county partners to expedite the launch of CARE Court to address the mental health crisis in Los Angeles County,” said Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner. “Our Court has a long history of establishing innovative programs that help those experiencing mental health issues, substance use disorders and other challenges. We commend the Governor and legislative leaders for their bold vision to help vulnerable populations and their families. We are pleased to join the first cohort of CARE courts to help launch this new program in Los Angeles County in the coming months and years.”
The Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act, authored by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), received bipartisan and near-unanimous approval in both the state Senate and Assembly. CARE Court will be implemented statewide in a phased approach.
Last November, Governor Newsom convened representatives from the first cohort – comprised of the counties of Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus and Tuolumne, as well as the City and County of San Francisco – to discuss their planning efforts and share feedback and best practices on implementation with the state. CalHHS is establishing a CARE Act Working Group as part of ongoing engagement with impacted families, behavioral health providers, disability rights organizations, housing and homelessness advocates, racial equity experts, and others.
The housing and services for CARE Court clients 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 billion annually for mental health programs throughout California; and more than $1.4 billion for our health and human services workforce.
An additional $88.3 million in CARE Court start-up funds was provided this year for counties, courts, self-help and legal aid. Additional funding of at least $52 million for next budget year and $145 million in the following year is proposed to further support county and court operations. The State anticipates that at full implementation, the state will provide $215 million annually to support the operation of CARE Courts.
In addition to the $63 million in 2022-23 for county start-up costs, courts and legal services included in the 2022 state budget, the Governor’s Budget includes an additional $215 million at full implementation to support counties, courts and legal services.
In Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health will oversee and coordinate the implementation of CARE Court.
For more information, visit chhs.ca.gov/care-court.