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What is the Carer Assistance Program?

The Carer Assistance Program (CAP) offers free therapeutic support to Victorian Foster Carers, Permanent Carers, and Adoptive Families.

Through CAP, carers can access individual, couple and group therapeutic support across a range of issues impacting mental health and wellbeing, both related and unrelated to their caring role.

Appointments for the CAP service are available weekdays except Thursdays - 9am to 5pm.

Appointments will be scheduled based on therapists' availability.

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Carers in the Victorian home-based care system report increased stress on their mental health and wellbeing. The CAP is the only counselling program in Victoria designed to deliver targeted support specifically for foster carers, permanent carers and adoptive families and is informed by specialist knowledge and expertise of the sector.

CAP provides professional therapeutic support focused specifically on the wellbeing of carers, supporting carers across a range of issues, such as:

  • anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation

  • grief and loss

  • emotional support during a CIMS investigative process

  • parental stress

  • system stress where placements are in jeopardy of breaking down

  • thoughts of exiting the system

  • relationship issues requiring joint/couple sessions 

Meet the CAP Team

The Carer Assistance Program is currently delivered by two counsellors, Tonya and Jake.

Tonya Bavaro

Tonya joined FCAV in 2016 and worked as a Carer Advocate with the Carer Support team until September 2020.

Since the launch of the FCAV Carer Assistance Program (CAP), Tonya has been developing and delivering counselling and therapeutic support to Victorian carers.

With over 25 years experience in the sector, Tonya has extensive knowledge and expertise in the delivery of therapeutic support to families impacted by abuse and trauma.

She is a strong advocate for children in home based care and is committed to delivering a unique and targeted therapeutic program focussed on the wellbeing of carers, in recognition of the critical role they play in the lives of these children.

Jake Iaria

Jake commenced within the Carer Assistance Program (CAP) in 2023 to provide free and confidential therapeutic support to Victorian carers. He has previously worked within both child protective services, as well as working therapeutically with vulnerable children and families and extensive experience working alongside First Nations people.

Jake can provide support for a variety of difficulties that many carers across the state experience. This includes feelings of burnout, system fatigue, anxiety, depression, stress, relationship difficulties, as well as placement breakdowns.

CAP Frequently Asked Questions

The CAP is available to all Victorian Foster Carers and PCAF Carers across the state. PCAF carers include Permanent Carers, Adoptive Parents, and Family Court Ordered Kinship Carers.  

Both FCAV and PCAF have a range of support services focused on delivering information, advice and advocacy to carers. CAP however is designed specifically to provide therapeutic intervention to support carers mental health and wellbeing. There may be times when the CAP provides support to carers alongside other support services within the FCAV or PCAF. 

The CAP’s therapeutic model is that of short-term intervention. All eligible carers will be able to access a minimum of 1-3 therapeutic sessions, with the option of further sessions if assessed as appropriate. For issues requiring long term specialist support, referrals to other providers may be facilitated.

The CAP offers a confidential therapeutic service to carers. Limits to confidentiality may apply however, if you or another person are identified as being at risk of harm. In this circumstance, you can expect full transparency should the CAP counsellors need to discuss your situation with an external person. Similarly, your permission will be sought if it is necessary to share information with other support services within the FCAV or PCAF, where they are involved.

An online referral submission is required to access the CAP. The referral form is quick and will ask some basic questions outlining your concerns. 

A referral can either be self-referred, made by your agency case worker or by an FCAV support worker/PCAF advisor.

Once a referral is received you will receive a confirmation email with a scheduled appointment, with the option of a phone session or zoom link. In some circumstances your referral may be redirected for other FCAV/PCAF support in the first instance.

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