The CARE Act: Here’s What to Know

California courts in eight counties have launched the CARE Act, a new pathway to deliver mental health treatment and support services to the most vulnerable Californians.

The law established a new, non-criminal proceeding that authorizes certain people—such as family members or first responders—to petition a civil court for treatment and services for those with untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

When will courts implement the CARE Act?

Eight county superior courts have programs up and running—Los Angeles, Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties.

The remaining 50 counties must implement their programs by Dec. 1, 2024.

What is the court’s role?

Specified people can request court-ordered treatment, services, support, and housing resources under the CARE Act for another person. There are seven eligibility criteria for a person to receive services, including being an adult with untreated schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

These proceedings allow a court to create a voluntary CARE agreement or a court-ordered CARE plan. Once the court has ordered a CARE plan, the court must hold regular status hearings to review the progress of the person under the plan.

How is the Judicial Council of California involved?

The Judicial Council in January allocated funding for the first group of courts implementing the CARE Act, including funding for representation by qualified legal services providers and public defenders. In May, the council approved new rules and forms to support the program, which were made available for public comment. The council is also tasked with collecting data on the program’s implementation, as well as training and technical assistance for judges and court staff.

More resources related to the CARE Act are available here.