County will use Emergency Declaration to Hire Needed Staff Quickly
Los Angeles, CA – Today, led by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to direct staff to prepare for the launch of CARE Court on December 1, 2023. CARE Court, a new initiative championed by Governor Newsom and passed into law by the State Legislature, aims to fix the ongoing challenge of getting people with severe mental illness the support and care they need.
“We have been struggling for decades to figure out a way to get real, compassionate help to people with severe mental illness, and I believe CARE Court could be the missing piece of the puzzle,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Our December 1 launch date is coming up quickly and there is plenty of work we need to do to be prepared to provide CARE Court clients with the care they need and support their concerned family members on day one.
CARE Court will provide upstream treatment opportunities to individuals suffering from severe mental health disorders, especially schizophrenia spectrum and psychotic disorders, and are unable to make their own medical decisions by authorizing specified people, like family members, to petition a civil court to create a CARE plan for that individual.
“This motion is about our County proactively preparing for CARE Court. Staffing up is key so that we’re ready to help the gravely disabled – they’re the intended clients and their needs are complex. Our Department of Mental Health is the lead implementation agency and I support moving forward, but there are still a lot of questions about how referrals will be accepted and managed that need to be answered. A lot of good can be achieved. We need to work in close partnership with the state so we get this right and are set up to succeed. We can’t squander this opportunity.”
The Board passed a motion today, authored by Hahn and Barger, directing the LA County Department of Mental Health to recruit and hire new employees to support the CARE Court program and use the Board’s emergency authority under the recently declared Homelessness Emergency to expedite hiring. The motion also directs County staff to identify potential properties and facilities that are needed to support CARE Court, to develop a referral system to connect CARE Court clients with substance use treatment, to implement a peer supporter program for CARE Court participants, and to report back in 90 days with progress made towards CARE Court implementation.
“December 1st is just around the corner and so much needs to be done,” commented Mike Molina, who serves on the LA County Commission on Mental Health. “We need emergency appointments. We need treatment facilities identified, prepared and staff hired. We need coordination with the courts and all agencies involved. And we need a full and comprehensive communications plan so that County residents clearly know the options and services offered to them through CARE Court. This Motion is just what we need to fast-track the work ahead in the next six months.”
Under SB 1338, every county in the state must implement CARE Court. The County of Los Angeles will be part of the first group of California counties to implement CARE Court starting with one courtroom and one judge in the LA County Superior Court Courthouse in Norwalk.
Governor Newsom’s May Revision to the state budget proposes to allocate $15 million to Los Angeles County to implement CARE Court. The revision also identified $151 million in ongoing funds to support CARE Courts statewide although LA County’s allocation is unknown at this point.
Today’s motion passed in a 4-1 vote with Supervisors Janice Hahn, Kathryn Barger, Hilda Solis, and Holly Mitchell voting for the motion and Supervisor Lindsey Horvath voting against it.