Nurturing children

Since 1980 Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), a program of Brethren Disaster Ministries, 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, and 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.

Contact us

Children’s Disaster Services
601 Main Street, P.O. Box 188
New Windsor, MD 21776-0188
Phone:1-800-451-4407
Fax: 410-635-8739
Email Children’s Disaster Services
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Maria's Kit of Comfort book cover
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Maria's Kit of Comfort resources for children's ministry
Click for children’s ministry resources (PDF)
Activities related to Maria's Kit of Comfort
Click for activities related to the book (PDF)

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.

CDS News

  • Emergency Disaster Fund aids Tennessee, Puerto Rico, Florida, Honduras, Uganda, and Venezuela

    Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) grants to support a rebuilding project in Tennessee, the work of Children’s Disaster Services and Church of the Brethren congregations in Florida following Hurricane Ian, flood recovery work of the Christian Solidarity Program for Honduras, a flood relief program of the Church of the Brethren in Uganda, and a flood relief program of ASIGLEH (the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela).

  • Hurricane response efforts continue

    Church of the Brethren ministries are assisting survivors of Hurricanes Ian and Fiona through shipments by Material Resources, Children's Disaster Services teams in Florida, and acts of love and compassion in Puerto Rico.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries, districts work on hurricane response

    Hurricane Ian caused catastrophic damage along Florida’s southwest coast on Sept. 28 when it made landfall near Fort Myers. More than a week later, first responders are still out searching the hardest hit neighborhoods for survivors. With the death toll over 100, this storm is one of the deadliest in the state’s history. The level of damage has impeded relief and response efforts as volunteers come to help. Shelter and rental cars are scarce in the state, with many volunteers driving over two hours to get to the damage zone each day.

  • Children’s Disaster Services offers volunteer training workshops in October

    Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has three volunteer training workshops coming up, for which we are taking registrations:

More CDS Newsline articles

CDS Response Locations

View a larger version of CDS Responses 2011-2018 created with eSpatial mapping software.