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.

Program assistants resign from Brethren Disaster Ministries
(March 23, 2017)
Robin DeYoung has resigned from the Brethren Disaster Ministries Rebuild program and Kristen Hoffman from Children’s Disaster Services.


Children’s Disaster Services sends team to aid evacuees in northern California
(February 18, 2017)
A team of eight volunteers with Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) are serving in Oroville, Calif., at the request of the American Red Cross. The team is offering child care for families affected by the evacuation of the area under threat from the emergency at the Oroville Dam.


Children’s Disaster Services serves people affected by tornado in Georgia
(February 3, 2017)
A team of volunteers from Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) set up yesterday morning at a MARC (Multi Agency Resource Center) in Albany, Ga. CDS provides child care for families affected by disasters, often offering care for children while parents apply for aid or take care of other necessary tasks in the wake of disasters.


More CDS Newsline articles