Newsom Proposes New Policy Framework for CARE Courts in All 58 Counties

On Thursday during a visit to a mental health treatment center in Santa Clara County, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new policy framework to assist people living with untreated mental health and substance use disorders. The framework, entitled the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court, would require counties to provide comprehensive treatment to the most severely impaired and untreated residents and hold patients accountable to their treatment plan.

CARE Court, which must gain approval by the California Legislature, seeks to offer court-ordered individualized interventions and services, stabilization medication, advanced mental health directives, and housing assistance. Plans may be up to 12 to 24 months and involves a full clinical team, a public defender, and a supporter to assist individuals in making self-directed care decisions.

Per the Newsom Administration, if an individual is unable to successfully complete a CARE Plan, the individual may be referred to conservatorship, consistent with current law, with a presumption that no suitable alternatives to conservatorship are available. Under the proposal, all counties will participate in CARE Court. If local governments do not meet their specified duties under court-ordered CARE Plans, the court will have the ability to order sanctions and, in extreme cases, appoint an agent to ensure services are provided.

Additional details on the Newsom Administration proposal, including potential impacts on counties, are anticipated to be forthcoming. More information from the Governor’s Office is available here.