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.
- CDS helps care for children and families among asylum seekers in Chicago area
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a team of three volunteers to Oak Park, Ill., to aid children and families among asylum seekers who have been sent to Chicago from the southern border of Texas. The team served from Monday, Nov. 6, to Thursday, Nov. 9, caring for 51 children.
- Children’s Disaster Services deploys to Lewiston, Maine
On Oct. 28, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a team of five Critical Response Childcare volunteers to Lewiston, Maine, in partnership with the Red Cross. This deployment was made in response to the mass shootings at two locations in Lewiston in which 18 people were killed and 13 others were injured.
- Children’s Disaster Services deploys second team to Hawaii after wildfires
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has deployed another team to Hawaii in partnership with the Red Cross. The volunteers traveled to Maui on Sept. 4-5.
- Children’s Disaster Services deploys volunteers to Hawaii after wildfires
The Church of the Brethren’s Children’s Disaster services (CDS) has deployed volunteers to Hawaii in partnership with the Red Cross. The volunteers traveled on Aug. 14-15. They have set up a Children’s Disaster Services Center in a Family Assistance Center in Lahaina, on the island of Maui. The volunteers are scheduled to serve through Sept. 4.