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.

BDM & CDS gift catalog


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 offers volunteer training workshops
(August 5, 2017)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) workshops are scheduled for this fall. The website link for registrations is www.brethren.org/cds/training/dates.html . CDS and its trained and certified volunteers provide care for children and families following disasters.


CDS serves in New York, puts teams together for California wildfire response
(July 20, 2017)
Children’s Disaster Services volunteers have responded following flooding in New York State, and the program has been put on alert to send teams to respond to wildfires in California.


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.


More CDS Newsline articles