Milestone behavioral health care bill signed into law

Sep 14, 2022

After securing key amendments, Cal Cities, along with over 70 cities from throughout the state, urged the Governor to sign the bill into law.

On Wednesday, the Governor signed SB 1338 (Umberg) into law. The landmark bill establishes the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Court Program, also known as CARE Court. This critical legislation aligns closely with Cal Cites’ 2022 State Action Agenda, which seeks to increase funding and resources to prevent homelessness and assist individuals experiencing homelessness.

Specifically, the CARE Court program aims to connect unsheltered individuals experiencing acute behavioral health needs with a court-ordered care plan managed by a care team in the community. These CARE plans could include clinically prescribed, individualized interventions with several supportive services, medication, and a housing plan.

After months of negotiations, Cal Cities secured critical amendments to help ensure the program’s effective implementation. These amendments included a phased-in approach to implementation, additional funding to get the program started, and a pathway for cities to participate in CARE plan negotiations.

Following those amendments, Cal Cities and a coalition of over 70 cities from throughout the state submitted a letter to the Governor requesting his signature on SB 1338.

When the Governor signed the bill on Sept. 14, he expressed appreciation for local leaders, Cal Cities, and other stakeholders for supporting SB 1338 as it moved through the Legislature. He emphasized that the implementation of the CARE Court program will be realized at the local level, which is why statewide support is instrumental to ensuring the program's success.

Earlier this year, the Cal Cities Board of Directors adopted a new policy to support additional funding and resources to expand access to behavioral health services, especially for California's unhoused residents. This policy has guided Cal Cities' engagement on SB 1338 and, more broadly, has been instrumental in how Cal Cities has engaged on policies relating to homelessness.

For more information contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Caroline Cirrincione