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.

Brethren Disaster Ministries executive travels to Puerto Rico, Children’s Disaster Services sends teams to northern California
(October 13, 2017)
Roy Winter is on a trip to Puerto Rico this week to assess needs following Hurricane Maria and to meet with Church of the Brethren leaders in Puerto Rico District. Winter is associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.


CDS deploys Critical Response Childcare team to Las Vegas
(October 7, 2017)
Children's Disaster Services (CDS) has deployed a specially trained team of Critical Response Childcare volunteers to Las Vegas, Nev., following the mass shooting there. The team was requested by the American Red Cross, and are serving in a Family Assistance Center, reported CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller.


Disaster staff to visit Puerto Rico, CDS work continues in Texas, prayer requested for DR Congo
(September 28, 2017)
Brethren Disaster Ministries is organizing the Church of the Brethren response in Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Maria. The response will include--in the short term--the shipping of a container of disaster relief supplies and a visit by associate executive director Roy Winter, tentatively scheduled for next week. In the long-term, plans are being developed for relief and long-term recovery programs, including home repair.


More CDS Newsline articles