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.

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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.

Church World Service provides online 'Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation'
(June 23, 2018)
Church World Service (CWS) has put together an extensive online resource titled "Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation and Keep Families Together." The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of Church World Service, and partners with CWS through Brethren Disaster Ministries. CWS has worked for decades with refugee resettlement and support for migrants.


CDS sends new team to respond to Hawaii volcano
(June 8, 2018)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has sent a new team to Hawaii to continue the response to the volcanic eruption that was begun by local volunteers Petie Brown and Randy Kawate. The American Red Cross had requested a CDS team to respond on the Big Island of Hawaii. The new team arrived at the Pahoa shelter on Wednesday, June 6.


Kathy Fry-Miller retires from Children’s Disaster Services
(May 30, 2018)
Kathy Fry-Miller is retiring as associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), effective Sept. 13. She began leading CDS on Feb. 1, 2014, working from her home in North Manchester, Ind., and from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.


More CDS Newsline articles