The Child Development Associate (CDA) CredentialThe Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is one of the most recognized credentials in early childhood education (ECE). It is a significant stage of advancement when on the path of career advancement in ECE. The credential is carefully managed to guarantee that those that earn their Child Development Associate credential will have the know-how to take essential ECE understandings and apply them. To date, over 800,000 CDA’s have been issued, and the credential is nationally and now globally acknowledged in UAE, Africa, and China.

Earning the CDA credential has quite a few advantages. Such as:

  • Understanding developmentally appropriate practice
  • Advancing your career
  • Meeting job requirements
  • Reinforcing your commitment to early childhood education
  • Providing parents with peace of mind

It’s an immense commitment to become a CDA, but one that will develop confident specialists with the command of today’s best practices for early childhood education. Here’s a step-by-step process on how you can earn your CDA based on your work with children.

Center-Based Preschool Program 

A preschool center-based setting is a child development center that’s state-approved where a candidate can be observed while working with a group of at least eight children, ranging in ages from 3 to 5 years. A center-based program requires the following:

  • At least ten children enrolled in the program (which does not have to be in the candidate’s group)
  • At least two caregivers that work with the children on a regular basis

Before you apply, you should have a high school diploma, GED, or be enrolled as either a junior or senior in a high school program for career exploration in early childhood education. You should also have completed 120 hours of official early childhood education training that covers both the growth and development of children three to five years old. Also, you are required to earn no less than ten training hours in each of the CDA subject areas listed below.

Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Subject Areas

  • Developing a safe and healthy learning environment
  • Progressing children’s physical and intellectual development
  • Supporting children’s social and emotional development
  • Constructing productive relationships with families
  • Managing an effective program operation
  • Upholding a commitment to professionalism
  • Monitoring and recording children’s behavior
  • Comprehending principles of child development and learning

Within three years of submitting your application, you should have attained 480 hours of professional work experience in a center-based setting with children ranging from three to five years old.

Within six months of submitting your application, you should be preparing your CDA professional portfolio. It’s a must that you create a collection of reference materials that correlates with your work. There will be detailed instructions in your Competency Standards book that will aid in preparing your CDA Professional Portfolio. You will need to find a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist. Click here to learn more about a CDA PD Specialist’s role in the CDA credentialing process.

Applying for Your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential

When you are ready to apply you will first purchase all materials needed to start the program at https://yourcouncil.org/cfprssa/ecssashop.show_home_category. Once you have done that than you can apply at https://www.cdacouncil.org/yourcda.

Please note if you are unable to apply online, use the application in the CDA Competency Standards book to apply for your credential.

Center Based Infant-Toddler

An Infant-Toddler center-based is a setting that is a state-approved child development center where a candidate can be observed while working with a group of at least three children that range in the age from birth to 36 months. A candidate may work or can be observed with all sub-groups or with one or two sub-groups. A center-based infant-toddler program requires the following:

  • At least ten children enrolled in the program (which does not have to be in the candidate’s group)
  • At least two caregivers that work with the children on a regular basis

Before you apply, you should have a high school diploma, GED, or be enrolled as either a junior or senior in a high school program for career exploration in early childhood education. You should also have completed 120 hours of official early childhood education training that covers both the growth and development of children ages birth three years old. In addition to earning no less than ten training hours in each of the CDA subject areas listed below.

Family Child Care

A family Child Care setting is a family Child Care home where the candidate can be monitored working with at least two children that are five years-old or younger, and who are not related to the candidate by marriage or by blood. The home care environment is required to meet at least the minimum of appropriate state and/or local regulations. Family Child Care settings are also qualified that are located in regions where there is no regulation of family Child Care.

Before you apply you should have high school diploma, GED, or be enrolled as either a junior or senior in a high school program for career exploration in early childhood education. You should also have completed 120 hours of official early childhood education training that covers both the growth and development of children ages birth to five-years old. In addition to earning no less than ten training hours in each of the CDA subject areas listed below.

Home Visitor

A Home Visitor environment is an established program of Home visits to families that have children five years or younger. This program supports parents in ensuring that the needs of their young children are met, and where candidates can be observed when they are conducting in home visits. In this type of setting, routine home visits is how the primary methods of the program is provided.

Within six months of submitting your application you are required to prepare your professional portfolio. In addition to:

  • Completing the My CDA Professional Portfolio cover sheet
  • Completing the Summary of My CDA Education cover sheet and a and assemble my training transcripts, certificates and or letters
  • Issuing and collecting Family Questionnaires, complete Family Questionnaires summary sheet
  • Finishing the My CDA Professional Portfolio cover sheet
  • Dispensing and collect Family Questionnaires, completed Family Questionnaires Summary sheet
  • Reflecting on the feedback you receive from the Family Questionnaires
  • Securing the Parent Observation Permission Form (completed and signed) from the family where your observation will take place
  • Attaining your Assessor’s Recommendation Form (in a sealed envelope)
  • Collect and gather all the items for your Resource Collection
  • Write six Reflective Statements of Competence
  • Write your Professional Philosophy Statement

Renewing Your CDA

To renew your CDA click the link below. There you will find the “how to” booklet that covers CDA renewal procedures for the preschool, infant/toddler and family Child Care settings. Also, there is now an updated CDA renewal guide for home visitor.

https://www.cdacouncil.org/credentials/renew-cda