CAPS program evaluation results snapshot


CAPS has recently reviewed the suite of programs.  In doing so we utilised an external evaluator to crunch the numbers from 2012 to 2015 feedback form.  We are delighted with the statistical results as evidence in the snapshot attached.  The qualitative results are just as impressive.  As CAPS uses evidence based programs the evaluation confirms CAPS excellence in producing excellent results for our clients, no matter if the are in Sydney or in Darwin or remote locations.

We have excellence in service delivery in the prevention and targeted early intervention to prevent child abuse in all its forms.  CAPS has started to kick goals. However, we need your support to continue the winning effort from our professional practitioners.  Every dollar donated helps save a child from trauma.  Give generously now to help tomorrow.





CAPS is heading in the right direction to prevent Child abuse across the spectrum of Early intervention and Prevention. CAPS is targeting the new families , and families that have significant risk factors before the abuse occurs. CAPS will provide education and support to parents, children and carers and educators across Sydney.

CAPS has a sequence of preventative, education workshops, seminars and training programs that will intervene and address the risk factors with evidence based programs. The target group includes families with children 0-3, families and childcare centres with children 3-5, primary schools and High Schools in the coming year.

please give generously to help us achieve this goal.

Achieving School Success – Award winning Program release to the Public.

Tuesday 2nd November

marks the launch a new training package to support newly arrived families and families from cultural diverse backgrounds in their transition into Australia.

The free, digital resource for the award-winning program, Achieving School Success, was developed to assist families from Non-English speaking backgrounds to navigate the Australian education system and services for children and families.

Initiated by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, the program assists parents to better support their school aged children by providing a safe and secure home, understanding how to navigate the education system and knowing where to turn to for assistance.

Achieving School Success represents a partnership between multiple community organisations and government departments and in 2014, won the Family and Community Services (FACS) Mary Dimech Multicultural Award for a team program.

“We know that families raising children in a new culture can face additional challenges” says Jeff Taylor of Child Abuse Prevention Service “The Achieving School Success online training package has been developed by multiple organisations specifically to enable the delivery of the program in communities across the country, and to help families from all cultures to support the wellbeing and development of their children as they grow up in Australia”.

Achieving School Success has already been delivered to hundreds of families across Greater Sydney, with demand for the program building. The free digital training package will mobilise the initiative and facilitate its use in all areas in Australia, even in the most remote of Australian communities.

The training package has been designed for easy use within the community sector and includes translated program resources, family activities, and content designed to explain the key features of the Australian education system and the importance of positive family support and safe home environments in child academic and life success.

The Achieving School Success training package can be downloaded for free from

New General Manager of CAPS

CAPS has a New General Manager.  Mr Jeff Taylor has a wealth of experience, over 30 years in the not for profit sector working with the most vulnerable in our society.  Mr Taylor has just returned from construction and operation of a new facility for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, addressing the needs of aboriginal and locals in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Prior to the Western Australia position he was the State Director of Practice for Relationships Australia in Queensland, with oversight of 20 different clinical and support programs across that state.   Mr Taylor has an excellent track record in funding and submission writing, strategic planning and organisational development.  At CAPS we are pleased to be able to welcome Mr Taylor to the Sydney landscape and draw on his knowledge.

Mr Taylor will operationalise the Boards Strategic Plan, which will focus on the further development of the excellent work already performed by CAPS staff, harness the information of evidenced based practice and consolidate the opportunities for programs into the future.

Mr Taylor will also be focussed on early intervention and prevention work that CAPS has specialised in over the last 40 years. We look forward to watching the development of CAPS in the coming years.

All about Wrapped in Angels


Mary Jo McVeigh (pictured above) is the founder and Principal of Cara House, a centre for resilience and recovery. She has a masters degree in social work from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she started working with children who have experienced abuse and trauma. Over 25 years on, she speaks at various national and international conferences, publishes journal articles, writes books and supports children, carers and agencies through training, consultation and supervision. She developed the program Wrapped in Angels, used by CAPS, and here she tells us all about it.


What is the Wrapped in Angels program, and how does it work for children?

Wrapped in Angels is a journey of resilience that explores what has sustained and nourished children and families when facing abuse, violence and trauma.

This is done by making an Angel Blanket. The symbols of family, friends, pets, places, and events sewn onto fabric: a colourful representation of a safety net. It was not just a safety net of metaphor or a distance genogram or ecomap written in case notes stored in a filing cabinet.

The blanket is a tangible object to be wrapped in, to bring closer strengths, protection, connections and relationships. It can warm and comfort with its touch and it can hold memories sewn on to its fabric. It helps children remember and keep remembering all that may be lost through a damaged net: death, removal from family of origin or some form of abuse or trauma, or all that may be present but still needs to be drawn closer.

How did you come up with the idea?

Over twenty years working with children I have worked in many places. One of these was a business centre where my desk sat in one corner beside a large window. In this spot I enjoyed the beauty and warmth of the day’s sun. The birds visited my window garden and I was treated to a fabulous light show when the moon rises.

At that time I had one of those times in my life, which we are all visited by, where I faced pain and difficulties. I remember asking for the guidance of my grandmother. I asked her to send me images of angels to help me through this time, to show me she was protecting me. None were forthcoming. As I came out of my ‘dangerous time’ I started to be sent images of angels by friends and
colleagues who had no knowledge of my desire for angelic imagery. With a wry smile on my face I thanked my grandmother. For I realised that while no images of angels were appearing, some very special people sustained me through this time.

For me it was my grandmother’s way of telling me that the angels were with me all the time, they never go away. They live in my memory of her and those of my godmother and aunt, they live in the beauty of nature and the sound of my favourite piece of music and most importantly they live in the actions of those around me who support and love me.

And so around my desk I placed the images of angels to remember, honour and act as symbols of being guided, protected and strengthened in my life and also in the work I do with children and their families.

In 2002 I was seeing Tom and his mother Chris. Tom and his mother Chris were consulting with me one day about Tom’s struggle with nightmares and being bullied at school. We spoke about his fears and doubts, his moments of triumphant and problem solving skills. We also spoke about hobbies and interests and Tom revealed his love of medieval knights; their weaponry, their amour, their valour.

He also spoke about his aunt who had died but still guided him in many ways and he spoke of his belief in angels. As I listened to Tom I heard a verse in my head that described the protection of angels. The words were originally from the breastplate of St Patrick, but I replaced the word Christ with angel.

One idea sparked off the next as we spoke of Tom’s angels and breastplates that protect a knight in battle. And so Tom’s shield was created with the words of the angels written on it to protect and strengthen him. He not only brought the symbolism of the shield in his waking world of the school playground but also his sleeping world: He no longer felt intimidated by the boy at school and the monsters of his nightmares stayed away.

Through consulting with me, a young woman came to know of the work I did with Tom. When she left Australia to work in Ireland she made me a magnificent tapestry upon which she had sewn the words of the angel verse. It hangs proudly on my wall.

Around this time I worked with a young girl called Kay and her foster mother on the traumatic experiences that brought her into care and the effect of these experiences on her current life. The first time she saw the tapestry she asked if she could drape it around her shoulders. I told her it was a tapestry to hang on the wall but she insisted that she be allowed to drape it upon her shoulders.

When I did she slept for her entire session a deep and peaceful sleep. Sleep of this quality was a comfort that Kay did not normally enjoy. As she awoke I told her that we would make her an Angel Blanket. And so I gave this blanket and all others that have come after it the name Angel Blankets.

How many years has the program been running and how widespread is it?

I made the first blanket in with a child in 2002. I have trained small groups of professionals in government and non-government child protection and therapy roles. Therefore, it has not gained widespread recognition. Although over the past two years as the professionals who I have trained have had wonderful experiences with clients it is gaining momentum through word of mouth.

How can people access Wrapped in Angels?

CLIENTS: We run, group, family and individual sessions at Cara House and Cara West which we advertise on our website or through invitation to partner agencies. The agencies I have trained I assume advertise through their connections when they run their Wrapped in Angels programs.

PROFESSIONALS: We run regular Wrapped in Angels training at Cara House or for agencies upon request.

Do people have to believe in Angels?

No, people do not have to believe in Angels. Wrapped in Angels is not a religious or even a spiritual process, but it can be. It can be whatever the person making their blanket wants it to be because it is a process of healing which harnesses the individual creativity of the maker.

What are your future plans for the program?

I would like to continue training more professionals so that the program can reach a larger client population. I would like to engage in research about the process and I would like to find a publisher as I would like to update the program that I have written and train to professionals.

But most of all I like to give everyone, everywhere, who has been through difficult and dangerous times the opportunity to wrap themselves in their own Angel Blanket.

I have watched and experienced the process of making many Angel Blankets range in nature and depth. Nightmares of several years’ duration have ceased, courage and strength have been regained, and recovery from trauma has moved forward. Each Angel Blanket is as different as the life of the sewer. But each time it has been an experience of significance.

To this day I do not really know what it is about Wrapped in Angels that makes it so significant and while I am toying with the idea of basing my PhD on it. There is a part of me that really does not want to know but just accept what people tell me, how much they love their blanket.

Below is a selection of images of angel blankets:



James’ story: being a foster parent

James Craigie has been a foster parent, along with his wife Karen, manager of CAPS, for almost three years.

How many children have you fostered since starting in 2011? Eight.

Tell us a bit about the type of foster care you provide and the options there are for foster carers… We provide crisis care and respite. Respite is planned care for existing foster carers that need a break. Crisis care is needed for children in immediate risk. After children are removed from home they go into crisis care while the department of community services finds a short-term placement.

Short-term placements can last for many months while the courts decide if a child can go home or needs to be put into long-term care. If a court determines that a child cannot ever be safe at home they are placed in to long-term care with long-term carers. This could be with a family member (known as kinship care) or a foster carer.

What are the main issues facing foster carers in Australia today? The main issue that I find challenging is the lack of information. As a crisis carer we often don’t get any information. We don’t know about schooling, child care, allergies, medical history. It’s very difficult to navigate through the system when everything is up in the air for the child.

It is an emotional roller coaster at times and maintaining emotional boundaries can be hard. We might get a child dropped off on a Friday night expecting they will only be with us for a weekend, but they end up staying for six weeks and you have to plan on the fly – and they become part of the family. We have also had placements that we have expected to continue, and have been planned to continue, but then they end abruptly because there is a change in family circumstance which we have no knowledge about.

How do you think these issues could be resolved? More resources for the department, better funding, better guidelines and policies. Better education for parents, more regular updates for carers. Better communication between the department and foster carers and more centralised communication between carers and the department.

What has been the best thing about being a foster carer? Making the kids happy, keeping them safe, and possibly making a small difference and a long-term memory of a nice time in their life. The end goal is getting them back to their parents and we have been involved with that transition before which is a great success.

What has been the hardest thing? Watching the kids leave, not always knowing where they are going or who they are going to be with. That has a big emotional impact on us and on our son. It’s hard to say goodbye.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a foster carer? Be fully prepared for all types of emotions, not only from yourself but from the kids. Be prepared to keep an open mind and don’t judge. Prepare yourself for good times and sad times and ensure that you can deal with the stress and emotion of it.

For more information on fostering is a good place to start.

Benjamin’s story: Life in foster care

I was raised in a town in the Midlands in the UK. I was sent to children’s home as a tiny baby, because my natural mother was an alcoholic and couldn’t take care of me.

I have no memory of my parents and have never had a desire to meet them. As a parent now, I have no idea as to how people can ever let their kids go.

I was brought up in a children’s home, by a lady we all knew as Ma. She was our angel.

At 21, I had to ask a few questions about my birth in order to get a passport, and Ma told me I was the only one of all her kids that had never asked about their real parents their whole lives. It turned out I have four brothers who were all taken into care too, but I have no desire to find them either.

Ma was the head of a children’s home, where up to 14 of us kids lived at any one time. We were institutionalised really, but Ma always did her best not to make it like that. There were other staff and social workers and Ma had hundreds of kids through her doors over the years. She is very special lady.

Foster care to me felt like a life sentence sometimes. By the time you’re 18, you’ve done a long time in the system, and you often fall foul of the law because you have a lot less to lose than other people. If they lock you up again, you feel like you’ve seen it all before.

I experienced racism and taunts from the kids at school and would often end up in fights. I have dark skin, but have no idea of my racial origins. I had brothers and sisters among the other kids, although now I’m nearly 40, I’m sad to say that a lot of them are either in jail or passed away.

To kids in foster care now, I would say you’ve got to turn your disadvantages into your advantages every single step. Ma always taught me to keep going and fight until my last breath.

I got my trade, got a job and worked my way up in life. I refused government housing and decided I would support myself instead. Today I have a wife and two beautiful kids and I live in Australia, but it has taken me years to evolve. And essentially to stop being angry.

I grew up scared. Foster care was just pure fear. You felt your situation wasn’t normal. You just wanted somebody to belong to. I had to fight for my food and my xmas presents among the other kids that were thrown in and out of my life.

Fear creates anger in youth, and most people are not aware of that. I believe wholeheartedly that fear is the one thing which controls all we do or don’t do, all we can or cannot achieve.

It is a powerful energy, which if not mastered, can hold us back, make us feel week, anxious, angry or sad and keep us from reaching our potential. But, on the positive side, by learning how acknowledge, handle and conquer fear, it can propel us forward to great success.

My philosophy is ‘no adversity, no advance’. What you put in is what you get out. If you don’t like the situation you’re in, only you can change it. It comes from education, hard work and discipline.

To foster carers I’d say, understand that kids have fears which hold them back. They can often feel that they are being punished for something they haven’t done. They may be scared to give out love in case it isn’t returned, maybe they’re scared to get too involved with a new family just in case their mum and dad come back, or maybe they’re scared because they’ve seen awful things they can’t explain or understand.

But accommodate their fears and just be there for them.