Frequently Asked Questions

  • The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act is a new state law meant to address and treat those with severe mental health disorders by allowing the court to order the county to provide behavioral health treatment in community-based settings.
  • Eligible residents are those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, who are substantially deteriorating and unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision.
  • Voluntary treatment is always preferred, with or without a CARE Act Plan. Voluntary engagement is encouraged throughout the CARE Act process.
  • The program prioritizes self-autonomy and civil liberties, providing free legal representation to individuals subject to a petition. Forced medication is not part of this program, nor does the program penalize individuals, either in a civil or criminal manner for non-compliance.

The plan is focused on individuals, 18 years of age or older, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, who are substantially deteriorating and unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. In addition, CARE Act is designed to help divert individuals from entering into more restrictive conservatorships or incarceration.

A court petition is required to start the process of assessing the individual’s eligibility for CARE Act. A judge will initially determine whether the person for whom treatment is sought is eligible.

When a participant is accepted into CARE Act, the individual is assigned a representative who will work with Behavioral Health Services to develop a plan or agreement tailored to the participant’s needs. The CARE Plan includes community-based resources, including peer support, counseling, stabilization medications and housing.

The individual is then ordered by a judge to follow the CARE Plan and be provided the resources outlined in the CARE Plan. The individual will receive services under their plan for approximately one year. Review hearings will be scheduled periodically to assess the progress and ensure accountability.

  1. Riverside County residents who need more information about CARE Act and who qualifies can dial (800) 499-3008.
  2. Anyone, including family, county and community-based social service providers can call for more information about CARE Act.

Not everyone will qualify for CARE Act, but everyone is encouraged to seek help themselves or for a loved one by calling the Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health’s CARES Line at 800-499-3008.

There is no cost to the individual participating.

A petition for an individual who potentially meets criteria for CARE Act must be filed with the Superior Court. If a judge determines the individual for whom treatment is sought appears to meet criteria, Riverside University Health Systems—Behavioral Health will be notified, and an attorney will be appointed to represent the individual. Together, all parties will work to develop a CARE Plan to meet the individual’s outpatient treatment needs. A CARE Plan is specifically tailored and can include clinically prescribed treatment with supportive services, medications, and a housing plan. If a CARE Plan is ordered, it will last for 12 months with periodic court reviews. A CARE Plan can be renewed one time for an additional 12-month period if necessary. Following the expiration of the CARE Act process, an individual who is willing to engage can continue to participate with available treatment plans.

One of the fundamental principles of CARE Act is to empower individuals to make self-directed decisions about their own treatment and recovery. Participants work collaboratively with a CARE Supporter and legal representation to create a personalized CARE Plan that fits their unique needs and circumstances. The emphasis is on supporting individuals in making informed decisions and building a recovery-oriented life. It's important to note, however, that while the program promotes self-determination, it also operates within a framework of court-ordered support to ensure the health and safety of the participants.

CARE Act is not a conservatorship and is less restrictive than a conservatorship.

If your loved one does not complete the CARE Act program, they would return to the traditional mental health care system and no longer receive the specialized support of CARE Act. However, each situation is unique, and the exact implications can vary based on the individual's circumstances and the reasons for discontinuation. Importantly, it's crucial to encourage the person to continue engaging with available mental health resources and consider discussing with a mental health professional about the best alternative care options for them. You can always reach out to the Riverside University Health System CARES Line at (800) 499-3008 for guidance and support during such transitions.

If a participant decides to leave CARE Act, there's no penalty. Instead, they would return to standard mental health care, or maybe referred by the court for a conservatorship. Individual circumstances will determine next steps.

Stabilization medications may be provided to manage symptoms and promote recovery as part of the Care Plan. In certain circumstances, stabilization medication may also be ordered by the court. However, it’s important to note that forced medication is not part of this program.

Housing security is an important element of the CARE Act program. Housing is based on the individual's specific needs, the availability of suitable housing options, and other relevant factors. It's important to remember that every participant's journey is unique, and our goal is to provide the best possible support for each individual.

While CARE Act is not a criminal process, there is a requirement that counsel be appointed to all individuals. This ensures that your loved one’s legal rights are understood and protected throughout the process.

For more information on the CARE Act program, call the Riverside University Health System CARES Line at (800) 499-3008 or visit

Riverside Superior Court Self Help Legal Services is available to explain CARE Act legal procedures and provide guidance on court forms. These services can be obtained by calling 951-274-4499 or 760-393-2163 or visiting