Disability Rights California Information on CARE Court

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Disability Rights California Information on CARE Court

Disability Rights California is firm in its commitment to stop any policy that takes away the rights of people with disabilities, including the CARE Court framework. The CARE Court proposal could place Californians living with mental health disabilities and substance use disorders under involuntary court-ordered treatment.

DRC strongly opposes CARE Court because it is based on stigma and stereotypes of people living with mental health disabilities and experiencing homelessness and will disproportionately impact Black Californians, who make up 40% of the unhoused population, only furthering institutional racism.   

While we agree that state resources must urgently be allocated towards addressing homelessness, hospitalization, conservatorship, and premature death of Californians living with severe mental illness, CARE Court is the wrong framework.

Because of a long history of discrimination in housing, employment, healthcare, policing, and other areas, Black and Brown Californians represent most of the unhoused population. They will be more likely to be subject to a CARE Court petition and the court system does not have the appropriate care for people with mental health disabilities, especially Black and Brown people. According to Mental Health America, clinicians overemphasize psychotic symptoms and overlook non-psychotic symptoms, such as major depression, when treating clients of other racial or ethnic backgrounds. This has led to Black men being over-diagnosed with schizophrenia compared to white counterparts.

In addition, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the United States, and research shows that housing is one of the main needs identified by survivors. Under CARE Court, a broad scope of people, including family members who may be the perpetrator of domestic violence, can file a petition creating a system for abuse.

CARE Court is a coerced, court-ordered treatment system that strips people with mental health disabilities of their right to make their own decisions about their lives. It will do more harm because studies show forced treatment lessens the likelihood of people seeking voluntary treatment in the future.

Background

On March 3, 2022, Governor Newsom announced a policy framework for developing CARE Court in all of California’s 58 counties, which could place Californians living with mental health disabilities and substance use disorders who experience homelessness and/or incarceration under court-ordered treatment. You can read more about the CARE Court framework here: Fact Sheet: CARE Court (*Note: This is a government fact sheet.)

On March 10, 2022, Disability Rights California hosted a Town Hall event for DRC’s clients and community stakeholders to provide feedback about Governor Newsom’s CARE Court framework for providing services to unhoused people living with mental health disabilities and substance use disorders.

On April 8, 2022 DRC hosted a convening where advocates provided the most up-to-date information about what we know about the CARE Court framework. We also sought input of our community to combat any framework that demands costly resources, strips the rights of people with disabilities, and makes no commitment to provide housing.

Up-To-Date Information on CARE Court

DRC will continue to effectively oppose a costly, unproven court-ordered treatment system that will not end homelessness in California, we need the community and we want to advocate with you. Below please find educational information and resources about CARE Court:

Letters to the Legislature and Governor in Opposition to SB 1338 - CARE Court

Assembly Health Committee Testimony in Opposition of SB 1338 - Eric Harris, Director of Public Policy, DRC (video)

Articles related to CARE Court

Proposed Bill

Disability Rights California Publications - Know Your Rights

Comments

You can send comments, and questions to CARECourtFeedback@disabilityrightsca.org.