Senate Bill (SB) 1338 (Chapter 319, Statutes of 2022) established the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, that represents a crucial step forward in ensuring that individuals facing severe mental health challenges (schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders) in California receive the care they so desperately need. Too often, these vulnerable individuals find themselves without access to the necessary treatment.
CARE takes a proactive approach by intervening earlier, seeking to divert individuals from more restrictive conservatorships or incarceration. It establishes a vital connection between those in crisis and a court-ordered CARE plan or agreement that can span up to 12 months, with potential extensions for an additional year.
Recognizing the pressing need for support and accountability, CARE steps in not only to help those with severe untreated mental illnesses but also to assist local governments in their duty to provide behavioral health services. The CARE process operates through California’s civil courts, enabling earlier intervention and offering much-needed support and accountability.
Moreover, CARE ensures that individuals receive clinically appropriate community-based services.
The CARE Act will start in phases:
On October 1, 2023, Cohort 1 counties will implement CARE, including Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and San Francisco.
Los Angeles will begin on December 1, 2023.
All remaining counties will begin implementation by October 1, 2024, unless the county is granted additional time by DHCS.