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.

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.


Children’s Disaster Services volunteers respond to Hawaii eruption
(May 25, 2018)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers Petie Brown and Randy Kawate have cared for children at the shelter in Pahoa on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. The effort has aided children and families affected by the volcanic eruption that has displaced hundreds of residents.


Children’s Disaster Services offers spring training workshops
(January 26, 2018)
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is offering several training workshops for volunteers this spring, in a variety of locations across the country. CDS volunteers work at the invitation of the American Red Cross and FEMA to care for children and families affected by disaster. Find out more about the ministry of CDS and how to become involved at www.brethren.org/cds .


More CDS Newsline articles