SACRAMENTO - Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D – Orange County), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with joint author, Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), Chair of the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, amended Senate Bill 1338 into a measure establishing CARE Courts in California. CARE Courts are a new policy framework proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom to provide community-based mental health and substance use disorder treatment services to Californians with the most acute challenges, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.

“I have seen first-hand the good that can come when our judicial, executive, and legislative branches work together to address delicate populations and nuanced issues like mental health, veterans, at-risk youth, and substance use. The individual frameworks and best practices for collaboration exist here in California – I’m confident that we can pull them together for something new and revolutionary in human services for California’s neediest,” said Senator Umberg. 

The Newsom Administration hosted CARE Court roundtables around the state with health care and service providers, impacted Californians, local and judicial officials, and other stakeholders. Those conversations deeply informed the language introduced in SB 1338 today, and will remain an important benchmark for policy discussions moving forward.

Senator Eggman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, echoed Senator Umberg’s sense of urgency for significant reform.  

“The behavioral health crisis that we see every day on our streets requires changes to our existing system as well as new ways of addressing this persistent and worsening challenge.  The Governor’s Care Court proposal offers an important new tool to help the most vulnerable among us and to help give them the dignity we all deserve.”

As the former Deputy Drug Czar under President Clinton, federal prosecutor, and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- Senator Umberg has devoted years to the complex and inter-related problems of mental illness, homelessness, and criminal behavior and the means by which to address them.  He is a Board Member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and has volunteered and counseled those operating both the Drug and Veterans Court systems over the years.

“I applaud the Governor for tackling this critical and complicated issue from a stakeholder perspective,” said Senator Umberg. “If this was an easy web of problems to solve, we wouldn’t be here. I’m eager to work with Senator Eggman, the Governor, legislative colleagues, and stakeholders as we engage on some incredibly difficult and emotional conversations over the next few months and years.”

The language and framework being inserted into SB 1338 will be available on within 24 hours and the measure will be heard in policy committee(s) in the next several weeks.