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 third team to Houston, Orlando team completes service
(June 24, 2016)
“We have another team headed out to Houston, Texas, this week, third one this summer,” reports Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. “I know the people there are getting very weary of all the flooding and water. I’m so grateful that we have volunteers willing to go.”


CDS team cares for children, offers a supportive presence in Orlando
(June 17, 2016)
Our Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) Orlando team has reported that they feel they are at the right place to offer support. The team is serving in the Family Assistance Center (FAC) that was set up starting Wednesday for families of those who were killed early Sunday morning and for survivors and their families.


Children’s Disaster Services team to work in Orlando following gun massacre
(June 14, 2016)
In response to the horrific shooting in Orlando, Fla., the American Red Cross has asked Children's Disaster Services (CDS) to send a team of caregivers. Since 1980, 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 natural and human-caused disasters. CDS is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren and is part of Brethren Disaster Ministries.


More CDS Newsline articles