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CARE Court in San Mateo County
CARE Court began in San Mateo County on Monday July 1, 2024.


The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act is a new law that provides community-based behavioral health services and supports to those living with untreated schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders through a new civil court process. It is designed to disrupt the revolving-door of homelessness, short-term hospitalization, and incarceration for those with untreated serious mental illness.

The evidence-based program will connect eligible adults in crisis to a CARE Agreement or Plan, which may include comprehensive treatment, housing, and supportive services for 1 year and may be extended for up to 12 additional months if needed. 

CARE will serve people who need help most and work with clients and their families to help them towards recovery so they can remain in our community and thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for CARE?

A person must meet all these conditions to be eligible for CARE Court:

  • 18 years old and over
  • A diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum disorder or other psychotic disorder
  • Not clinically stabilized in on-going voluntary treatment
  • Unlikely to survive safely in the community, condition is deteriorating, or in need of supports to prevent deterioration.

How can I refer someone for CARE?

Referrals for CARE Court are made by a petition process to the court.  Eligible petitioners can complete the petition form either: 

Visit the How to File the CARE-100 Form to begin CARE act proceedings. 

Our BHRS CARE team is also here to help partner with clients and families to support the petition process. Call 650-372-6125 or email and let us know how we can help. This is not a crisis service. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 9-1-1 or 9-8-8 or go to your nearest emergency room.

What is the CARE process?

Referrals are made via a written petition to the court.  Once a petition is filed, our BHRS team will engage the individual to assess their needs.  The program will connect an eligible person to a CARE Agreement or Plan, which may include comprehensive treatment, housing, and supportive services for 1 year and may be extended for up to 12 additional months if needed.

A person who has been petitioned for CARE Court is referred to as a respondent.  All respondents will have access to legal representation.  Respondents may also have a CARE Supporter if they choose, who will act as an advocate on behalf of the respondent.

The CARE Agreement or Plan will be agreed upon by the respondent, their legal counsel, our BHRS team, and the CARE Supporter.  The judge will finalize the plan, and BHRS will connect the respondent to the outlined services.  BHRS will provide regular updates to the court on the respondent’s progress. 

After 1 year, the court and the respondent will consider graduation from the program.  If the court or the respondent believe the respondent would benefit from more time, the CARE program can be extended for up to 12 more months. 


Myth: CARE Court will force people into treatment.
Fact: Our goal is to engage people when and where they need it most.  Many of our clients have fallen through the cracks of our mental health system and are in desperate need of high quality, comprehensive care. CARE Court provides us with an opportunity to serve people who need help most and work with clients to help them towards recovery, where they can remain in our community and thrive. 

Myth: People don’t have a voice in their treatment planning or goal setting.
Fact: CARE Agreements and CARE Plans are a collaborative process that include the client. This means we partner with clients, their legal counsel, and their CARE Supporter as we work with them to achieve their goals through a collaborative process and ensure the best treatment for them possible. We personalize every treatment plan to best meet our clients’ needs and set them on the path towards recovery.

Myth: People can already access community services for treatment.
Fact: Those who qualify for CARE Court services are often unable to recognize that they need help or don’t know how to get the help they need.  Without proper treatment, symptoms can worsen and lead to increased hospitalizations and/or incarceration. CARE meets clients where they are and provides these services directly.

Myth: CARE Court forces people into involuntary treatment.
Fact: CARE Court is an Outpatient program.  All services require willingness on the part of the respondent. Our goal is to keep people in the community. 

Myth: People who get CARE services will be under the thumb of the system forever.
: CARE Court is a year-long program and can be extended up to an additional 12 months. Upon graduation, their services will remain in place. Our goal is to help people recover. This means people can achieve stability and be able to thrive in the community.


Additional support such as a Family Resource Guide, how to fill out a petition and training materials can be accessed via the CARE Act Resource Center at