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 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.


Children’s Disaster Services deploys to Houston, again, following flooding
(June 4, 2016)
“The Houston team is in a shelter where people are taken to after being rescued,” reported Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) associate director Kathy Fry-Miller. CDS has deployed a team of volunteers to Houston, Texas, for the second time since April in response to severe flooding.


Children’s Disaster Services presents new training program in Nigeria
(April 29, 2016)
Along with Paul Fry-Miller, John Kinsel, and Josh Kinsel (John’s son), I returned this week from a trip to Nigeria. While John Kinsel and I presented a new training program on trauma healing for children, on behalf of Children’s Disaster Services, Paul Fry-Miller and Norm Waggy presented medical training to 16 community health workers.


More CDS Newsline articles