The City of Alameda’s Community Assessment Response & Engagement (CARE) Team will receive $1.8 million as part of California’s Budget Act of 2022, city officials announced on September 7. The pilot program, launched in December 2021, is led by the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) as an alternative response available 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year to individuals facing a mental health crisis.
A group accomplishment
The state funding comes from Assembly Bill 179 (AB179), signed into law last week by Governor Gavin Newsom as a budget-implementation amendment to the state budget passed in late June. The funds are part of a $19.7 million allocation to the California Department of Social Services aimed at supporting homelessness and wellness programs statewide. Other AB179 priorities include $315 million from the General Fund over the next two years to implement the state’s Extreme Heat Action Plan, as well as funding to address the state’s drought response and resilience efforts.
The City of Alameda expressed gratitude to Assemblymember Mia Bonta and State Senator Nancy Skinner for their support of the CARE program through their respective roles in the state legislature and budgeting process.
The CARE Team is the culmination of efforts by the community-led Steering Committee on Police Reform and Racial Equity in response to national outcry following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis due to police misconduct. The Steering Committee’s work included recommending options to shift responsibility for mental health calls from the Alameda Police Department to non-police programs, which the Alameda City Council approved in March 2021. The move to create the pilot program passed in July 2021.
About the Alameda CARE Team
Each CARE mobile crisis team is staffed by a licensed paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who are trained in mental health response, de-escalation, and crisis intervention. Additionally, Alameda Family Services (AFS) contracts with the city to provide on-call consultation services and follow-up case management for CARE Team clients. According to its July 2022 update, the CARE Team averaged about 88 responses per month in its first six months of operation—a 74 percent increase in engagements compared with the previous year. Of the 529 total responses, 376 calls were related to “Medical and Rescue,” with 290 engagements made by the CARE Team. According to statistics shared by the City of Alameda, the CARE Team has significantly reduced the percentage of individuals requiring transport to a psychiatric or medical facility from 85 percent to 37 percent.
The $1.8 million in state revenue will fund the CARE Team for one year and comes after the City Council authorized an extension of the pilot program through June 30, 2023, at its April 19 meeting. The CARE Team vehicle, a mid-size SUV equipped with emergency lighting, has been recently rebranded to more closely match an AFD appearance. Additional details regarding the CARE Team can be found on the City of Alameda website.
Reminder: Always call 911 if you are experiencing an emergency. If you are in crisis or encounter someone else who may be experiencing a crisis, call 911 or call 510-337-8340 and ask for the CARE Team to respond.