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 sends another team to continue work in Baton Rouge
(September 16, 2016)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has sent another team of volunteers to continue caring for children and families who have been affected by the extreme flooding in Louisiana. On Thursday, CDS staff shared via Facebook, “While we thought our team that left yesterday would be our final Baton Rouge team, things changed and we were asked to send in another team.


Children’s Disaster Services sends fifth team to Louisiana, Material Resources ships more aid
(September 2, 2016)
A fifth team of volunteers from Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) arrived in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday, Sept. 1. Four CDS teams already have completed their service there. The CDS volunteers have been caring for children and families who have been displaced by flooding and are living in American Red Cross shelters.


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.


More CDS Newsline articles