San Diego Superior Court Embraces CARE Act, a New Path for Mental Health Support Services

San Diego Superior Court Embraces CARE Act, a New Path for Mental Health Support ServicesSource: Google Street View
Kamal Jenkins
Published on October 02, 2023

Effective yesterday, the San Diego Superior Court has begun accepting petitions under the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, a critical advancement in mental health services in San Diego County. The court's official announcement confirmed the new development.

The CARE Act, initially adopted in seven California counties, aims to alleviate challenges encountered by individuals with untreated schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. San Diego has joined these pioneering counties, following Senate Bill 1338, which established the CARE Act by adding Welfare & Institutions Code Sections 5970 – 5987 to the law.

Under this new legislation framework, persons known as "petitioners" are to initiate voluntary treatment, services, and support including a housing plan for patients struggling with specific serious mental conditions, referred to as "respondents."

Notably, no fees associated with filing a Petition for CARE Act proceedings. This will ensure financial barriers don't thwart access to needed support. Detailed information packs for both petitioners and respondents are provided by the San Diego Superior Court's CARE Act webpage, ensuring the process of acquiring aid is more convenient.

The proceedings of the CARE Act involve assessments and court hearings which allows for an eligibility check for support. The Behavioral Health Services Department of San Diego will be at the forefront of evaluating each case. If the respondent fulfills the CARE eligibility criteria, a personalized CARE agreement or plan could be implemented, which if approved, could be ordered by the court.

A significant feature of the process is the confidentiality of CARE Act petitions, reports, and hearings. This ensures that even in a society where mental health issues remain difficult to openly discuss, sensitive personal information will stay safe throughout the proceedings.

There are some temporary challenges that need to be addressed. For instance, the self-help center at San Diego's Hall of Justice, a resource for both petitioners and respondents, has had to relocate to another room due to ongoing remodeling work. It has been confirmed in the official announcement that the center will return to its original location on the Hall's second floor by October 9.

The San Diego Superior Court's CARE Act webpage provides more information on the CARE Act proceedings, including forms, frequently asked questions, and additional resources.