Governor Newsom’s CARE Court Proposal Cleared First Legislative Hurdle with Broad Support

Coalition of supporters laud CARE Court legislation’s progress 

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of CARE Court legislation yesterday – SB 1338 by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) and Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) – and lifted up the chorus of support from the initiative’s growing coalition. CARE Court will provide individuals with severe mental health and substance use disorders the care and services they need to get healthy. SB 1338 will today be heard in the Senate Health Committee.

“With a diverse and growing coalition of supporters, CARE Court continues to make important progress toward providing a new path forward for Californians in desperate need of treatment and support,” said Governor Newsom. “As the wide-ranging coalition makes clear, we urgently need a paradigm shift away from the status quo that sees too many Californians with severe mental health and substance use disorders go without the help they need to get well. I thank the Legislature for this action and look forward to our continued partnership to make this lifesaving program a reality.”

Governor Newsom this week convened members of the CARE Court coalition, which includes local officials, first responders, health care professionals, behavioral health providers, business organizations, civil rights groups and faith leaders, among others. The Governor is calling on the Legislature to move quickly to enact CARE Court to allow local partners to begin implementation of this critical program.

Jessica Cruz, NAMI CA Executive Director: “NAMI California thanks the Governor for his dedication to implement CARE Court and appreciates the effort and speed to which the California Legislature has responded to turn this framework into a reality. CARE Court is an absolute game changer and is critical to organizations like NAMI, allowing us the ability to better assist individuals in need of help throughout California.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, California Big City Mayors Chair: “As leaders at the local level, we are on the frontlines of this crisis, and we see CARE Court as a critical priority for the Big City Mayors of California. It’s time that our golden state stops walking by our greatest moral shame and faces it head on with clarity and compassion.”

Brian K. Rice, California Professional Firefighters President: “Our members see people at their point of greatest need, responding to 911 calls for those in serious mental health crisis. This leads to using scarce fire and EMS resources to pick up the same folks over and over again. Governor Newsom knows we need a different approach, and CARE Court will help us break this cycle and truly get people the help they need.”

California State Senator Thomas Umberg: “As the Chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’m very pleased to see that the bill passed with bipartisan support and no votes against the bill. I look forward to continuing discussions with the stakeholders and trying to address concerns. As a practicing Attorney in Orange County I have seen the effectiveness of these types of problem-solving courts and the difference that they can make in people’s lives. I’m happy to bring my legal expertise to the CARE Court and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on our most vulnerable fellow Californians and their families.”California State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman: “Our behavioral health system is currently failing the most vulnerable among us. Real, meaningful and lasting change requires a sustained financial commitment – which is why the Governor and Legislature have made historic investments in behavioral health care over the last couple budget cycles. But more is also needed. We must fix a broken and fragmented system. And we must embrace innovative solutions such as CARE Court, which provides a new on-ramp to the behavioral health system for a population that is very difficult to reach.”San Francisco Mayor London Breed: “I would like to applaud the Governor for his leadership on homelessness and behavioral health issues across California. It’s our moral obligation to help people who can’t help themselves, and CARE Court will help ensure that those who need help the most are able to get it.” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “Right now, we have a fragmented system that does not deliver fast enough on behalf of enough people to be responsive to the suffering that we see on our streets. We need to support CARE Court to hold government accountable to providing the treatment so many on our streets desperately need.”

California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom: “I look forward to working with Governor Newsom and our counterparts in the Senate to create a CARE Court program that is long lasting, meaningful and is aimed at serving those most in need of assistance in our local communities and throughout California. The people this program will serve are those most desperately in need of the solutions that CARE Court promises to provide.”

California State Senator Anthony Portantino: “CARE Court provides the holistic approach that we need to help individuals suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. This program provides the building blocks and the systematic change needed to deliver housing and other resources which will help to create stability for those individuals in need of assistance.”

Terry Withrow, Stanislaus County Supervisor: “I am wholeheartedly supportive of CARE Court. This program is critical to serving those with severe mental illness, many of which live on our streets. I know firsthand the impact a CARE Court program can have on a community as this is something we have been working on in my district for 6 years. The efforts by the Governor and the Legislature to implement this system across the entire state will give local governments the support we need to help save lives.”

Ontario Fire Chief Ray Gayk, President California Fire Chiefs Association: “CARE Court is a huge step forward to help address the severe mental illness we see daily on our streets. As a fire chief and as a former paramedic for over 20 years, I’ve seen the struggle that far too many individuals face when they are left to fend for themselves on our streets. I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for working to create a plan that provides a new approach to act early and get individuals the help they need to address their underlying issues.”