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CARE Court, statewide mental health care plan, priority for LA County

Los Angeles County moving forward with CARE Court a year early
Los Angeles County moving forward with CARE Court a year early 03:42

Los Angeles County will accelerate the implementation of a statewide program intending to assist people suffering from severe mental illness, officials announced today.

The CARE Court (for Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment) program is backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and is meant to help those living on the streets struggling with mental illness and drug addiction.

"CARE Court brings real progress and accountability at all levels to fix the broken system that is failing too many Californians in crisis," Newsom said in a statement. "I commend Los Angeles County leaders, the courts and all the local government partners and stakeholders across the state who are taking urgent action to make this lifesaving initiative a reality for thousands of struggling Californians."

Seven counties pledged to roll out the program this year: Glenn, San Diego, San Francisco, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Orange and Riverside. Los Angeles, the state's most populous county, sped up its implementation date one year ahead of schedule, to Dec. 1, 2023.

CARE Court, which received bipartisan support in the state legislature, can compel someone suffering from mental illness to take part in a court-ordered care plan for up to two years. The plan could include individualized interventions with supportive services, medication and housing. Those who do not complete their care plan could be hospitalized or be placed under a conservatorship.

The county's Department of Mental Health will oversee the program's implementation. 

"We are in a homelessness emergency and we know that many who are living on our streets are struggling with severe mental illness," Board Chair Janice Hahn said. "Governor Newsom's Care Court model has been a missing piece in our effort to bring people inside."

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass supported the acceleration and thanked Newsom for his leadership.

"It is profoundly inhumane to allow people to suffer mental illness and die on our streets," Bass said. "We will lock arms with Los Angeles County, building CARE Courts and expanding mental health and substance abuse programs to help Angelenos get well while respecting all civil liberties."

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