Children's Disaster Services

Nurturing children

Photo by Carol Smith

 Since 1980 Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has been meeting the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation.  Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, volunteers provide a calm, safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires any natural or human caused disaster. 

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Volunteers from across the country

  • participate in specialized experiential training
  • undergo a rigorous screening process
  • learn to work with children after a disaster
  • are capable of mobilizing rapidly and responding both locally and nationally. 

Volunteers arrive to a disaster location with a “Kit of Comfort” containing carefully selected toys that promote imaginative play. Volunteers give children individualized attention and encourage them to express themselves, thereby starting the healing process. Although many volunteers are motivated by faith, CDS’ training is open to anyone over 18 years old. 

CDS provides respite, education and individualized consultation for parents about their child’s unique emotional needs after a disaster.  Through consultation or workshops specifically tailored to each situation, CDS also works with parents, community agencies, schools or others to help them understand and meet the special needs of children during or after a disaster.


CDS updates

Bridges is the Brethren Disaster Ministries newsletter published three times a year. It features articles from our Children’s Disaster Services program, as well as our Rebuild program, and international efforts. Learn more about the Bridges Newsletter.

Children’s Disaster Services team begins work in N. Carolina, Material Resources ships to hurricane-affected areas
(October 29, 2016)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is responding in North Carolina following Hurricane Matthew. Areas of the state suffered severe flooding caused by the hurricane that hit the east coast of the United States after sweeping over Haiti and other areas of the Caribbean. A CDS team of volunteers traveled to Fayetteville, N.C., on Tuesday to begin serving children and families affected by the flooding.


Hurricane Matthew updates
(October 8, 2016)
As Hurricane Matthew batters Florida today, Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to monitor the situation and is working to determine response plans in the Caribbean and on the east coast. Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has put volunteers on alert.


Children’s Disaster Services completes its service in Baton Rouge
(September 30, 2016)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has completed six weeks of volunteer work caring for children and families affected by severe flooding in Louisiana. The 29 CDS volunteers who took part set up childcare centers in multiple locations in Baton Rouge, including shelters, and worked with two partner organizations--FEMA and the American Red Cross.


More CDS Newsline articles