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, recently saw their Senate Bill 1338, establishing CARE Courts in California, pass the Senate Floor.
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 – we are working around the clock to pull them together in SB 1338 for something new and revolutionary in California,” said Senator Umberg.
Earlier this year, 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, Umberg and Eggman said, 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, 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.
“If this was an easy web of problems to solve, we wouldn’t be here.” said Senator Umberg. “I’m proud to be spearheading this effort with Senator Eggman and look forward to ongoing conversations with legislative colleagues and stakeholders as we move through the Assembly.”
SB 1338 passed the Senate Floor on an historic bi-partisan vote of 38-0. The measure will be heard in policy committees in the State Assembly in the coming weeks.