CSAC Action Alert: CARE Courts
June 10, 2022
CALL TO ACTION: Contact your legislative delegation and the Governor’s Office by Monday, June 13 and deliver this message:
CARE Court will fail without addressing outstanding county policy concerns, resources, fiscal protections, sanctions, and housing.
Counties are the key partner in implementing CARE Courts and seek immediate intensive discussions regarding our fiscal and policy concerns. Issues that must be addressed include:
1. Policy Structure (SB 1338): CARE Courts will fail without the inclusion of county front-line expertise in the final policy bill.
SB 1338 (Umberg) continues to move through the policy process despite limited engagement with counties on core issues, including capacity, sanctions, and housing. Counties have proposed solutions to each of our concerns, both in concept and with detailed draft amendments.
- Click here for a 2-page summary of requested amendments
- Click here for a sample letter to send to the Assembly Committees hearing SB 1338
- Click here for comprehensive county amendments to SB 1338 (as amended May 19)
2. Fiscal Concerns: To successfully implement SB
1338, counties require timely ongoing per-case funding as well as
initial start-up funding within the 2022-23 State
While the Governor included a placeholder in the May Revision Budget for potential county costs, he and legislative leaders have not yet committed to providing ongoing funding for new county CARE Court duties, which will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars in new net responsibilities. CSAC, along with county organizations, are refining that estimate based on evolving language in the bill.
3. Readiness and Capacity: Counties strongly urge the inclusion of a readiness-based implementation schedule for CARE Courts in which willing counties are the first adopters. Additionally, counties require “start-up” funding to recruit workforce, deploy technology, and ensure county capacity for CARE Court implementation.
4. Sanctions: Counties bear the lion’s share of
the liability for proposed CARE Court sanctions because counties
are tasked with responsibilities during each step of the new
civil court process.
Counties understand the Governor’s desire for accountability, and recent amendments include cities and Continuums of Care for possible sanctions, but only in regards to the provision of housing. Failure to address county concerns sets up CARE Courts for failure, and the inclusion of sanctions sets up counties for thousands of dollars in new court sanctions.
5. Housing: Housing is a critical component for the success of CARE Courts, and while recent amendments attempt to include all entities providing housing, the jumble of programs – regardless of origination, funding, or operation – requires refinement. Additionally, counties request that the Governor’s proposed $1.5 billion in Bridge Housing Funding be allocated to counties on a flexible, non-competitive basis and that these funds be disbursed to participating counties as soon as possible.
The issues above must be addressed immediately to implement the Governor’s vision for a CARE Court program that assists those with psychotic disorders in a supportive and effective manner. Please contact your Legislative Delegation with these key messages now.
Ed Valenzuela, CSAC President and Siskiyou County Supervisor
Chuck Washington, CSAC 1st Vice President and Riverside County Supervisor
Bruce Gibson, CSAC 2nd Vice President and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor
James Gore, Immediate Past President and Sonoma County Supervisor
Graham Knaus, CSAC Executive Director
CARE Court Update
SB 1338 (Umberg), the Governor’s CARE Court bill, is under Assembly consideration while Legislators have just five more days to complete a 2022-23 budget package by June 15.
CSAC, along with a raft of county affiliates and organizations, is developing a fiscal estimate for new county duties under CARE Court. Funding must be additive, adequate and ongoing to prevent the diversion of existing resources and programs from current clients. The goal is to see this estimate included in the final 2022-23 Budget Act, which the Legislature must pass to the Governor by next Wednesday, June 15. The Governor has until June 30 to sign the budget.
Additionally, CSAC and the county organization are seeking an immediate allocation of “start up” funding to assist counties with workforce, technology, and other initial implementation needs. Further, any funding must be paired with a fair allocation methodology and strong protections to avoid shortfalls or the forced elimination of other services at the county level due to CARE Courts.
While we are working on these fiscal estimates, counties are seeking a commitment from the Governor and Legislature to fund new CARE Court duties commensurate with their definition within the version of SB 1338 that is eventually signed into law.
In the Assembly, SB 1338 will likely be heard by the Assembly Judiciary Committee the week of June 20. The Judiciary Committee plans to focus on some of the legal aspects of the bill, such as the presumption that a CARE Court participant who drops out of the program would be eligible for a Lanterman-Petris-Short conservatorship. Counties support the Committee’s efforts but our broad concerns still remain.
The bill will next be heard in the Assembly Health Committee. That Committee will focus on the implementation issues and may support a phase-in of the program. The final stop before the Assembly Floor is the Appropriations Committee. It is difficult to predict the costs of the bill at this time.
CSAC and the other county organizations are actively lobbying members of both committees as well as the Assembly at large with our policy concerns. While time is not as short as in the fiscal/budget process, the Governor has repeatedly urged the Legislature to pass SB 1338 before July 1 so CARE Courts can implemented as soon as possible.
Reminder: California’s counties cannot successfully implement CARE Courts without necessary policy changes and the funding required for the program to be successful.
Visit CSAC’s CARE Court webpage for news and resources.