Q: Do I have to be a Certified Child Life Specialist to be involved?
A: No! If you are not a Certified Child Life Specialist, you can still be involved in many ways! You can complete a training through Children’s Disaster Services, become a CDS Certified Volunteer, and then deploy through our partnership with them to disasters. You also can assist us with program development, research, resource development, etc. There are certainly roles that are specific for Certified Child Life Specialists, but plenty if you are not, check out our opportunities page!
Q: What is the difference between the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) training specifically for CLSs and the other CDS trainings?
A: Our partner organization, CDS, has been training volunteers to work with children in the immediate aftermath of a disaster since 1980. Their standard training is a two-day training that includes a shelter simulation experience. Participants are able to experience a little of what it is like to stay in a shelter with other people during this portion of the two-day training. This training format is open to anyone 18 years or older and gives excellent information on working with kids under stress. CDS and CLDR have collaborated to developed a second training format that is specifically geared toward child life specialists, child life students, and art/music/rec therapists. This training is only offered twice a year and is a one-day training, approximately 7-8 hours long. Child life specialists have given valuable feedback for both training formats. See below for a few items of feedback for both formats:
Two-day Training format (10 PDU’s):
- It was truly eye opening for me to experience shelter living for a night and get a glimpse into what the children and families (and sometimes volunteers) might be experiencing. I feel like that was very valuable.
- I enjoyed getting to know people of various backgrounds and I am excited about the idea of possibly deploying on a team with them in the future.
- I liked having flexibility to interact with the learning modules as well as interact with other participants.
One-day CLS-Specific format (7 PDU’s):
- I enjoyed having training modules that factored in my professional training and skills.
- It was nice to network and discuss ideas for future collaboration with other CLSs.
- There was a lot of info to cram in to a short time!
Q: How long are the deployments? (Or: I have small children and/or other responsibilities, should I still pursue getting involved if I can’t do a 2 week deployment?)
A: There are times when a 2 week commitment is required for specific deployments, however, there are also times when a shorter response is needed, even a one or two day response or a one week response. If you are trained and certified to be able to respond, you can give your availability and it might fit well with the need. Every disaster is very different, so each time commitment/need can vary as well. We encourage you to get involved and jump in whenever you may be able to.
Q: How much time in advance are the volunteers contacted for assignments?
A: This may vary significantly since the world of disaster can be a little chaotic and subject to multiple factors. Sometimes an email can be sent out as an “alert” of sorts to inform volunteers of a pending need prior to a predicted disaster or after a disaster while needs are still be assessed. Other times, an email is sent out asking for responses indicating immediate availability or even future team availability if a 2nd or 3rd team is needed to deploy 3+ weeks after a large disaster. The short answer to this question is 1 day – 2 weeks, with great variability depending on the scope of the disaster.
Q: How long does my disaster certification last? Or: Do I need to re-certify after a certain amount of time?
A: Your disaster response certification with CDS does not expire. Your background check will need to run again and badge will need to be reissued/updated on the date listed on the badge. You are invited, but not required to take the training again after 10 years.
Q: Is there any documentation that CLDR/ CDS could provide to employers to verify the volunteer assignment?
A: Upon request, CLDR and CDS can provide a letter stating the dates/times a volunteer was on assignment.
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