Gavin Newsom ordered SF to start compelling severely mentally ill people into CARE Court back on October 1. But now six months into the program, it’s only served 22 people.

It was back in 2022 when Governor Gavin Newsom proposed his CARE Court system that would compel severely mentally ill people into court-ordered treatment. Critics were quick to bash the idea, because it seemed like forced psychiatric holds. But the California legislature passed it anyway, and the CARE Court system took effect on October 1 last year. San Francisco officials estimated last year that “between 1,000-2,000 eligible people in San Francisco” would be served by the program.

Well, we’re now six months into the CARE Court program, and a new report in the Chronicle points out that only 22 people have been referred to the local CARE Court. On top of that, the Chronicle adds that nearly half of those cases “have already been dismissed.” That does not seem like a good investment, considering the state gave SF a $4.3 million grant to get the program up and running.

This is not necessarily an indictment of the entire CARE Court program. Other communities have referred more people, though CARE Courts have only seen 372 referrals statewide over these first six months among the eight counties participating in the program. All counties statewide are expected to be participating by the end of the year.

But for comparison, the much smaller Stanislaus County had 36 CARE Court referrals over these first six months, and the much larger Los Angeles County had 106 referrals, per the Chronicle’s numbers.

So why is SF’s CARE Court lagging badly in case referrals? The Chronicle explains that most of these referrals have come from the SF Department of Public Health, and not many have come from family members, first responders, or other healthcare workers who are also eligible to make referrals.

“I think people don’t totally know how to refer or don’t understand what the process is,” Legal Assistance to the Elderly executive director Laura Slade Chiera told the Chronicle. (That organization represents people who are referred to CARE Court.)

So to that end, anyone interested in referring someone to CARE Court can do so submit forms here to San Francisco Superior Court. You can also contact the Department of Public Health’s CARE Court team at (628) 217-5171, or by email at [email protected].

Related: Gavin Newsom’s CARE Court Program Starts Today, Can Force Severely Mentally Ill People Into Treatment [SFNews]

Image: Cocoablini via Wikimedia Commons