Our Story

We are innovating
with care

We’re here because we know it takes undeniable inner strength to raise a child with complex needs.

In 2018, The Canadian Mental Health Association identified key areas of development to ending the healthcare disparity in Canada with a focus on equitable access for all. These included promotion, prevention and early intervention.

The resulting investment in these areas gave rise to the creation of SAAAC CARES.

A different solution

This program takes an unprecedented approach in challenging the healthcare system to adopt new ways of delivering mental-health interventions.

As the only program of its kind, culturally responsive and peer-led, CARES provides innovative psychosocial intervention, skills training and mental health support – to empower caregivers of children with complex needs.

Proven Support
for Caregiver
Mental Health

CARES has been lauded with the College of Family Physicians of Canada™ (CFPC) and the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) Collaborative Mental Health Care Award for its excellence in enhancing mental health outcomes through collaborative healthcare efforts. Operating across Ontario with partners like SAAAC Autism Centre and Autism Ontario, CARES serves over 200 families annually, offers multilingual access, and has made notable research contributions, including a publication in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, demonstrating its significant impact on community mental health.

The eight weeks of connection with other caregivers creates a supportive environment and a sense of shared identity that fosters resiliency.

Our Team

Backed by science. Powered by people.

Dr. Kira Vimalakanthan

Dr. Shiv Sivapalan

Where is CARES operating?


“The safe space CARES creates for families to be vulnerable and discuss their experiences, feel validated and heard is powerful. Such opportunities are scary and are a vital part of empowering them. If caregivers are not able to vent or even speak about their struggles, there is no way that they can seek out resources that are needed for them and their circumstances. CARES is really the beginning of that empowerment journey.”

CARES Facilitator