CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor’s CARE Court Proposal Moves Forward

The legislative vehicle to implement the Governor’s Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court proposal, SB 1338 by Senators Tom Umberg and Susan Talamantes Eggman, passed two Senate policy committees this week. Next stop: the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Counties raised concerns primarily regarding the lack of funding for new county responsibilities as well as issues related to the bill’s language on county sanctions, housing, and who would be eligible for the CARE Court program.

CSAC and county affiliates are working to develop draft amendments to address these concerns, as well as working up an estimate for the costs of the new county responsibilities outlined in the bill. Counties also continue to engage with the Governor, his administration, and the Legislature on CARE Court concerns.

Additionally, CSAC is advocating for a comprehensive, holistic approach to addressing the homeless crisis rather than adding yet another narrow program without determining clear responsibilities and resources for all levels of government. Significant recent state investments for homelessness and behavioral health grants, while welcome, are spread among multiple local partners and fail to address fragmentation and decades of underfunding for county behavioral health services.

Finally, CSAC is also asking the Legislature to consider funding for existing programs that are proven to work, such as

  • County Public Guardians/Conservators
  • Assisted Outpatient Treatment (Laura’s Law)
  • Peer Support Specialists
  • Operating & Workforce Costs for Behavioral Health and Homeless Infrastructure
  • Outreach and Engagement efforts – which are the only evidence-based methods known to help transition people from the streets into care

To read the latest joint county organization letter on SB 1338, click here https://www.counties.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/joint_care_concerns_sen_health_4-18-22.pdf .  The Governor also updated the state’s CARE Court webpage https://www.chhs.ca.gov/care-court/ with additional fact sheets and some fiscal information related to county behavioral health. CSAC and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association are questioning the accuracy of the new information and will keep counties updated as the issue evolves.

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