SACRAMENTO – After nearly a year of committed hard work, collaboration and preparation, the first seven counties in California (Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne, and San Francisco) are set to launch the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act. On Monday, October 2, the CARE Act will create a new pathway to deliver mental health and substance use disorder services to the most vulnerable Californians.
“CARE is part of a much larger, multi-year journey that California has been on to transform our behavioral health system through a connected set of efforts designed to build up infrastructure and transform how care is delivered,” Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency (CalHHS), Dr. Mark Ghaly said. “Together, all of these efforts support counties in prioritizing an extremely vulnerable population of Californians in a strong and thoughtful way.”
“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.”
WHAT COMES NEXT: The CARE Act moves care and support upstream. It seeks to divert and prevent incarceration and restrictive conservatorships for an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 people statewide by connecting them with a range of critical behavioral health services, housing, and supports. CalHHS has worked with a diverse set of stakeholders—including families and people with lived expertise, our state partners, and local leaders—through a series of statewide convenings and the CARE Act Working Group to prepare for the launch of CARE and ultimately make the model stronger.
The Judicial Council of California has created the court infrastructure with thoughtfulness and care, both for the judges and the legal representation for respondents.
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) continues to build capacity for local service delivery, ensuring the training of volunteer supporters that respondents may choose to help them throughout the process, and building the infrastructure to track outcomes through both annual reports and an independent evaluation, with a focus on racial equity.
Additional information, including resources for those interested in filing a petition and eligibility criteria, can be found on the CalHHS website.
BIGGER PICTURE: The CARE Act is part of a much larger connected set of behavioral health reforms that include actions taken over the last few years, as well as efforts underway today. Combined, these efforts will transform the way care is delivered while also building the infrastructure and workforce needed.
The State has invested more than $10 billion in resources to strengthen the continuum of community-based care options for Californians living with the most significant mental health and substance use needs. These programs and proposals complement and build on California’s other major behavioral health initiatives, including but not limited to the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative, the California Behavioral Health Community-Based Organized Networks of Equitable Care and Treatment (BH-CONNECT) Demonstration proposal, the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI), Medi-Cal Mobile Crisis and 988 expansion, and the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP).