Carer Assistance Program

What is the Carer Assistance Program? 

The Carer Assistance Program is a unique program focused on providing individual, couple and group therapeutic support to both Victorian Foster Carers and Permanent Carers and Adoptive Families (PCAF) as part of the Carer Support Team at FCAV.  

It is well recognized that carers in the home-based care system often report increased stress on their mental health and wellbeing. It is also acknowledged that there is little targeted therapeutic support focused on carer wellbeing, that also holds sector specific knowledge and expertise.   


The CAP has been developed to deliver this support to carers who recognize many diverse issues impacting their wellbeing, both related and often unrelated to their caring role. Some of the concerns identified by both foster carers and PCAF carers as requiring therapeutic support include -


  • 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.  


How is this different to other support offered by the FCAV and PCAF? 

Both the FCAV and PCAF have a range of carer support services focused on delivering information, advice and advocacy. The 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.  


Who can access the CAP? 

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.   


How much support does the CAP deliver? 

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.   


Is there any cost involved? 

There is no cost for the CAP support for all eligible Victorian foster carers and PCAF carers. 


Is the CAP confidential? 

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.  


How do I access the CAP? 

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. 






The Carer Assistance Program is currently delivered by two counsellors, Tonya and Nic. Please see below for available working days.







Tonya Bavaro joined the FCAV in 2016 and worked as a Carer Advocate with the Carer Support team until September 2020. Since the launch of the FCAV’s new Carer Assistance Program (CAP), Tonya has been delivering the CAP’s counselling and therapeutic support to Victorian foster carers. Tonya’s previous work history includes extensive experience working therapeutically with children and families impacted by abuse and trauma. She continues to be 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.

Tonya's working days are Mondays and Tuesdays. 







IMG 3193 

Nic Masuku joined the FCAV Carer Assistance Program in 2022. Nic has extensive experience providing individual therapeutic intervention and family therapy, advocacy and case management to children, youth and families involved with child protection and the Out of Home Care system. Nic is deeply passionate about providing a safe and open space through a client-centred holistic approach, with the goal of supporting the client to create a new narrative and improve their psychosocial wellbeing. Currently completing a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy through ACAP to further expand their therapeutic skills and knowledge around trauma-informed intersectional approaches for children and adults linked to the Out of Home Care sector, Nic brings an inviting and youthful energy to their sessions and interactions with clients, and the ability to hold space for personal reflection and validation of experiences.

Nic's working days are Tuesday and Friday