Children’s Disaster Services Training:

What to Expect & What to Bring

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) offered their first volunteer training in 1980 and they have been training volunteers to work with children in the immediate aftermath of a disaster ever since! Child Life Disaster Relief (CLDR) has the privilege of joining their mission in partnership with them to work toward continuing to meet the needs of children and families post-disaster. CDS offers two types of training workshops – a standard CDS training and a child life specific training. Child life specialist and students are welcome to attend either training for CDS certification eligibility; only one training is required.

1.  Standard CDS Training (27-hour overnight). Open to anyone at least 18 years of age and registration is required. Child life specialists will receive 10 PDU’s for this training. Each training may have a different start/end time and schedule, but the content is the same (see content details below). Often, the 27-hour training begins at about 5pm on a Friday night and ends Saturday evening, however, some training schedules are different. Registrants will be given the specific start/end time for the training before the training. This training includes an overnight shelter simulation experience. This is a valuable part of the training where participants sleep (often on Red Cross cots) in a room with other participants who they may have just met.

2.  Child Life Specialized CDS Training (7-8 hours): CDS also established a training with CLDR in 2015 that is specific to child life. This training is a one-day training offered twice a year and includes a post-training assignment to be completed for certification. The assignment focuses on a web and application exercise and a group living questionnaire. Child life specialists receive 7 PDU’s for this training. This training typically begins around 8-9am and ends around 4-5pm. Child life specialists are asked to attend EITHER the full training OR the one-day training for CDS certification eligibility.

All CDS trainings cover the same five modules (duration and mode vary):

  • Module 1: Who We Are
  • Module 2: Creating a Picture of Disaster
  • Module 3: Children & Disasters
  • Module 4: Engaging with Children After a Disaster
  • Module 5: Responding to the Call

Suggested Items to Bring to Training:

  • Comfortable, casual clothes that you can move around in easily, keeping in mind that meeting rooms can vary in temperature- a jacket or sweater might be useful
  • Business cards if you would like to network with others and make connections for responding locally

Overnight training only:

  • Comfortable sleepwear- remember you will likely be sleeping in a room                           with others as part of the shelter simulation experience
  • A sleeping bag or blankets, and a pillow
  • You might like to have a small air mattress or camping pad to make the shelter cot a little more comfortable (optional and based on personal preference)
  • Overnight notions /hygiene necessities/ medications/ washcloth and/or towel
  • Journal and pen (optional)
  • Earplugs (optional)
  • Sleep mask (optional)

Note: drinks, snacks and meals are provided for you there – no need to pack unless you have specific needs.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact either CDS or CLDR. We hope you enjoy the training!