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.
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.
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.
- Brethren Disaster Ministries monitors needs as California experiences extreme weather
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are monitoring the re-occurring storms and flooding in California and their damage, and sending prayers for those who are affected. The staff have reached out to leadership of Pacific Southwest District and received word that they have not heard from any Church of the Brethren congregations experiencing issues, either for their church buildings or their members.
- 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.