California courts in seven counties on Monday 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.
“Supporting the courts as the CARE Act is rolled out over the course of the coming months and years will continue to be a top priority for the Judicial Council of California,” said Acting Administrative Director Millicent Tidwell. “Dedicated judicial officers and court staff throughout California are committed to supporting its successful implementation—we appreciate the Governor and the Legislature addressing this issue which is of utmost importance to all Californians.”
Here's what to know about how the CARE Act will roll out in California courts:
When will courts implement the CARE Act?
Seven county superior courts have programs up and running—Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County plans to implement its program by Dec. 1, 2023. 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.