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.

Q&A: Disaster response
(August 26, 2016)
Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter answers frequently asked questions about the role of the church’s disaster response in the wake of heart-wrenching recent disasters in Louisiana and in Italy.


Children’s Disaster Services aids children displaced by flooding in Louisiana
(August 19, 2016)
Two teams of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers have begun work in Baton Rouge, La., this week, and more teams have been requested to help care for children and families who have been displaced by massive flooding.


Nigeria Crisis Response continues food aid in response to new food shortages, but begins to shift to long-term recovery
(August 12, 2016)
As the situation in northeast Nigeria becomes more stable and many displaced people move back home, the Nigeria Crisis Response program is beginning to transition to long-term recovery activities, while still supporting basic needs of displaced Nigerians and members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). This week, EYN leaders confirmed food shortages in some areas of the northeast, and have requested continued food aid at least through the end of 2016.


More CDS Newsline articles