CARE Court to Launch July 1, Providing Community-Based Support for Those with Untreated Serious Mental Illness

Redwood City – The County is launching a new strategy to deliver critical mental health, housing, and other services to individuals suffering from untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Local officials see the new CARE Court program as key to helping vulnerable individuals get the treatment they need while reducing the homelessness crisis.  

CARE Court begins locally on July 1, 2024.

Established by Senate Bill 1338 and strongly backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act seeks to end the revolving door of homelessness, short-term psychiatric hospitalization, and incarceration for those with untreated serious mental illness.

CARE Court connects a person struggling with untreated mental illness– and often also substance use challenges – with a court-ordered Care Plan for up to 24 months. Each plan is managed by a care team in the community and can include clinically prescribed, individualized interventions with several supportive services, medication, and a housing plan.

The client-centered approach also includes a public defender and supporter to help make self-directed care decisions in addition to their full clinical team.

The outpatient program is intended as an intervention for the most severely impaired residents, allowing them to remain in their community to stabilize, begin healing, and exit homelessness in a less restrictive setting.

“The community-based framework of the CARE Court program aligns with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ vision of enhancing care within our community and supporting recovery with compassion and respect,” said Dr. Jei Africa, director of County Health’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

“The ability to access essential behavioral health services in a community setting versus an institutional one helps clients and their families engage in the treatment while remaining close to their support system. We see CARE Court as another tool to help individuals get connected to services in their recovery journey.”

The court-ordered response under the CARE Act can be initiated by a family member, a mental health or behavioral health professional, a first responder, or a person seeking assistance, for instance. That can begin the process of enrolling someone in the state-funded program.

The July 1 launch places the county among the first in California to implement the program ahead of the December 2024 state-mandated deadline.

The Hon. Susan Jakubowski, who was appointed as the CARE Act Judge, said, “We weren’t required to implement CARE until December 1, 2024, but the stakeholder agencies came together around a clear vision for what we wanted to accomplish. The cooperation among our justice partners and the lessons we learned from courts that implemented CARE this past year allowed us to implement early.”

The Behavioral Health and Recovery Services CARE team can partner with clients and families to answer questions, support the petition process, and help them towards recovery. To reach the CARE team, call 650-372-6125 or email To read more about the CARE process in San Mateo County, visit here.

Additional support, such as a Family Resource Guide, how to fill out a petition, and training materials, can be accessed via the CARE Act Resource Center at

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