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California’s Multi-Million Dollars CARE Court Program Flops After 6 Months

California has invested significant resources in a new mental health court program aimed at helping individuals struggling with homelessness, severe mental illness, and addiction. However, as Beige Luciano-Adams of California Insider reports, the program has encountered challenges in its initial rollout that raise questions about its effectiveness and whether it can fulfill its intended goals.

While the Care Act was introduced with the urgent aim of intervening in the cycle that leaves many mentally ill Californians homeless or incarcerated, disability advocates argue the program risks infringing on civil liberties. Additionally, low participation rates in counties like Orange and Riverside suggest outreach challenges or that the voluntary court process may not appeal to the target population.

As Ms. Luciano-Adams notes, the narrow eligibility criteria and ability of participants to withdraw at any time may limit who the program can realistically help. With millions already invested and accountability measures for counties, policymakers should consider whether resources could be better spent on alternative approaches.

Overall, the new program aims to address a serious problem, but initial results indicate the challenges of linking those in need with a complex legal system they do not have to engage with. As implementation continues, further evaluation is warranted to understand how to maximize effectiveness and public value


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