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New program for Californians struggling with mental health and substance abuse

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Posted at 4:42 AM, Mar 04, 2022

At a press conference Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new program to help individuals who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. The CARE Court program is designed to connect these individuals with a court-ordered care plan as well as a supporter for up to 24 months.

The ultimate goal of this program is to get struggling people off the streets and into treatment and housing.

CARE Court will also connect struggling individuals with a care team in their community that can include stabilizing medication, clinically prescribed, individualized treatment with supportive services, and a housing plan.

Transitions Mental Health Association Executive Director, Jill Bolster-White, says this will improve the ability of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties to offer services.

"It sounds like it has some elements that would change some of the regulations, some of the impediments to treatment," said Transitions Mental Health Association Executive Director, Jill Bolster-White.

Bolster-White explained that Transitions Mental Health Association contracts through County Behavioral Health and works with hospitals and law enforcement.

"From what it sounds like, the CARE Court would actually help some of those groups do better coordination and do a better job of addressing the needs of folks who are unhoused," said Bolster-White.

Five Cities Homeless Coalition Executive Director, Jana Nichols, said there are a number of people who qualify for these services.

"I'm very supportive of this act and really hopeful that it goes all the way through the legislature and is enacted. How we actually do that? I have no idea," said 5Cities Homeless Coalition Executive Director,  Janna Nichols.

Nichols noted that housing scarcity on the Central Coast could make the program difficult to successfully implement.

"I know that our behavioral health services in the county will be challenged to meet that both by the virtue of housing and then the availability of staff," said Nichols.

Though Nichols sees potential challenges, she said she remains hopeful about the success of this program.

"We have our challenges ahead if we are going to implement this in an effective way," said Nichols.