Despite $97.5 Billion Surplus, Budget Proposal Won’t Meet Current Needs of Extremely Vulnerable Californians
Served by County Public Guardians and Conservators; Significant Additional CARE Court Demand Expected
Demand has soared 26% over the past three years and caseloads are already double professional standards
SACRAMENTO, CA — The California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators (PA|PG|PC) expressed deep dismay that the Governor’s May Revision budget proposal includes zero dollars in funding for Public Guardians and Conservators, the caseworkers who are on the frontlines providing safety net services to individuals with severely disabling mental illness as well as aging adults who have been victims of fraud, abuse, and neglect.
“Public Guardians and Conservators greatly appreciate Governor Newsom’s attention to the pressing concern of the overlapping mental health and homelessness crises, yet we are gravely disappointed to see that the May Revision ignores the reality that our services supporting these extremely vulnerable Californians are on the brink of collapse,” said Scarlet Hughes, Executive Director of the California State Association of Public Administrators, Public Guardians, and Public Conservators. “This budget proposal is now in the Legislature’s hands, and we cannot more strongly urge the Assembly to join the Senate in recognizing the urgent funding needed due to current, surging demand for the Public Guardian and Conservator safety net.”
Even before the Governor’s CARE Court proposal, PA|PG|PC has been urgently communicating the need for state resources to shore up the local safety net system on the brink of collapse. Without additional investment of $200 million annually, caseloads will increase even more drastically as CARE Court results in increased referrals to the Lanterman-Petris-Short conservator process.
“We support the Governor’s goal to reach Californians with mental illness or substance use disorder before their conditions become gravely disabling. One thing is clear: the demand from the public for solutions to the homelessness crisis and the overwhelming need for mental health and substance use services coming out of the pandemic means CARE Court will inevitably result in more referrals to the public conservator system,” added Hughes. “Despite the reality that the Administration’s Care COURT proposal will result in a significant increase in
referrals to County Conservators, no funds have been allocated for this purpose. Significantly more resources will be needed to ensure this program is successful for the clients we serve and the communities who are demanding attention to the crisis,” Hughes continued.
Senator’s Susan Eggman and Tom Umberg introduced SB 1338 to implement the Governor’s CARE Court proposal and Senator Eggman is championing a budget proposal to support California’s public guardian and conservator programs as part of the state budget process.
“We thank Senator Eggman for understanding that the success of CARE Court and SB 1338 hinges on our ability to meet the demands of people referred to us through the CARE Court process, but we have existing unmet needs to support homeless Californians, victims of financial crime, and abused and neglected seniors. Our $200M annual budget request will augment county investment of $258M annually to do what no other systems do: protect clients’ assets and facilitate decision-making to improve the well-being of clients who are unable to care for themselves. We look forward to working with Senator Eggman and legislative leaders to ensure the CARE Court proposal is workable and in the best interest of clients.”