COMMUNITY RESOURCES

CARE Act & CARE Court

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Description of CARE Act

California’s CARE Act, also known as the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, is a state law that establishes a new civil court process to provide community-based behavioral health services and supports to Californians living with untreated schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders. It aims to serve as an upstream intervention to prevent avoidable psychiatric hospitalizations, incarcerations, and more restrictive mental health conservatorships.

The CARE Act allows specified adults to petition a civil court to create either a voluntary CARE agreement or a court-ordered CARE plan. This plan may include treatment, housing resources, and other services tailored to the individual’s needs. The goal is to provide earlier action, support, and accountability for both the individuals in need and the local governments responsible for providing these services.

For more detailed information, you can visit the California Health and Human Services website dedicated to the CARE Act.

Description of CARE Court

CARE Court, which stands for Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Court, is a proposed framework in California designed to provide mental health and substance use disorder services to the most severely impaired individuals who are often found suffering in homelessness or incarceration1. It aims to connect people in crisis with a court-ordered CARE Plan for up to 12 months, extendable for another 12 months, offering a set of services and supports that are culturally and linguistically competent.

The CARE Court model supports self-determination, with each participant having a Public Defender and a CARE Supporter to help them make self-directed choices. It’s not for everyone experiencing homelessness or mental illness; it focuses on people with schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders who meet specific criteria.

In Los Angeles County, qualifying individuals or entities can petition the Superior Court to connect eligible individuals to services, including mental health and housing services, via a voluntary CARE Agreement or CARE Plan established and overseen by a judicial officer. The eligibility criteria include being 18 years or older, diagnosed with a disorder within the “schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” class, and not clinically stabilized in ongoing treatment.

The purpose of CARE Court is to deliver behavioral health services to the most severely ill and vulnerable individuals while preserving self-determination and community living. It serves as an upstream diversion to prevent more restrictive conservatorships or incarceration.

CARE Court Eligibility Criteria

CARE Court Eligibility Criteria

According to the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, individuals must meet all the following criteria to be eligible for CARE Court:

  • 18 years of age or older.
  • Diagnosed with a disorder within the “schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” class of disorders and currently experiencing symptoms. *See this website for the full list of eligible diagnoses.
  • Not clinically stabilized in ongoing treatment.
  • The individual’s mental health is substantially deteriorating, and they are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision AND/OR need services and support to prevent relapse and deterioration.
  • Participation in a CARE Plan is the least restrictive alternative and the individual is likely to benefit from participation in a CARE Plan.

CARE Act 101 Webinar: Overview of the Court’s Role in Implementation

Resources

NAMI California

NAMI California’s landing page about the CARE Act is a comprehensive collection of information, including videos, of everything related to the CARE Act and CARE Court.

NAMI California Training: “What is CARE Act?”

NAMI California Training: “The Care Act Process”

NAMI California Training: “How Your Loved One Can Qualify for CARE Act”

NAMI California Training: “How Families Can Support Their Loved Ones through the CARE Act”

CARE Act Resource Center

Health Management Associates (HMA) has developed a resource center that provides training, technical assistance and resources to county behavioral health agencies, counsel, volunteer supporters, and other stakeholders to support the implementation of the CARE Act.

Other Relevant Links

Resources for trainings, materials, or support

Main Websites of stakeholders

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's Town Hall

On Wednesday, June 7th, 2023, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) sponsored a Town Hall hosted by NAMI GLAC’s Executive Director, Traute Winters. This town hall featured LACDMH’s Acting Senior Deputy Director of Reentry Services, Jennifer Hunt, Psy.D. Jean Ho from the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office facilitated a Q&A session following Dr. Hunt’s talk. 

Length of video: 1:49:13

Presentation Slides from Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health's Town Hall

Share Your Experience with CARE Court

Attention CARE Court Participants! Share your valuable experiences with CARE Court to help us better understand how to better advocate for fair and human treatment. Your insights matter! Kindly send your stories and feedback to NAMI GLAC. Let’s build a supportive network together!

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