CDA - Child Development Associate Credential
You can become part
of the solution and help to end the struggle for quality child care. As a
caregiver of young children, you are responsible for them during the most
important years in their lives.
What is the CDA National Credentialing Program?
The CDA National Credentialing Program is a major
effort initiated in 1971 to enhance the quality of child care by establishing
the standards that define, evaluate, and recognize the competence of child care
providers and home visitors.
Administered by the
Council for Professional Recognition, the CDA Program benefits caregivers and communities alike. It offers caregivers the
opportunity to look at their work in relation to national standards, to receive
feedback and support from people in the field, to improve their skills, and to
earn a professional credential that is recognized nationwide. Communities
benefit because competent individuals strongly influence the education,
nurturing, and the development of children during their most critical years.
Who is a CDA?
A Child Development Associate (CDA) is an
individual who has successfully completed the CDA assessment process and has
been awarded the CDA Credential. CDAs are able to meet the specific needs of
children and work with parents and other adults to nurture children's physical,
social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework.
A CDA performs according to the CDA Competency Goals in center-based, home
visitor or family child care programs. To date, there are more than 200,000 CDAs
in all 50 United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S.
territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands.
As a result of an increase in demand from many public and private employers for
qualified trained staff, the number of child care providers applying for the CDA
Credential has grown to nearly 15,000 annually. Furthermore, 49 states plus the
District of Columbia incorporate the CDA Credential into their childcare center
Benefits of a CDA
- Possess the knowledge and skills needed to
meet the specific needs of children in order to nurture their physical,
social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework
- Accomplishment and recognition for obtaining
a respected, national credential
- Opportunities for advanced education and/or
- Eligibility to participate in the
REETAIN program and earn an additional annual grant
CDA Assessment Setting-Specific Requirements
Center-based Preschool, Center-based Infant Toddler, or Family
In addition, applicants must meet the following
- Must be 18 years of age or older.
- Must hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Must have 120 hours of formal child care education in eight
CDA content areas.
The eligibility requirement for CDA
Candidates to have 120 clock hours of formal child care education may be met
through participation in the wide variety of training available in the
field, including in-service. While the formal education hours can be credit
or noncredit, the hours must be through an agency or organization with
expertise in early childhood teacher preparation. The agency or organization
must provide verification of the Candidate's education in the form of a
transcript, certificate, or letter.
The 120 clock hours of education must be documented, with no fewer than 10
hours in each of the following content areas:
1. Planning a safe, healthy environment to invite learning;
2. Steps to advance children's physical and intellectual development;
3. Positive ways to support children's social and emotional development;
4. Strategies to establish productive relationships with families;
5. Strategies to manage an effective program operation;
6. Maintaining a commitment to professionalism;
7. Observing and recording children's behavior; and
8. Principles of child development and learning.
- Must have 480 hours of experience working with children in
a group setting:
Preschool: ages 3 through 5
Infant/Toddler: ages birth through 36 months including Young Infants (0-8
months), Mobile Infants (9-17 months), and Toddlers (18-36 months)
Family Child Care: ages birth through 5.
- Must select an eligible Advisor to complete the formal
CDA COMPETENCY STANDARDS
The CDA Competency Standards are the
core of the CDA program. Composed of Goals and Functional Areas, they are
statements of the skills needed to be a competent caregiver and the basis
upon which caregivers are assessed.
While the Competency Goals establish
the framework for caregiver behavior, the 13 Functional Areas describe the
major tasks or functions caregivers must complete in order to carry out
the Competency Goals.
To establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment
To advance physical and intellectual competence
To support social and emotional development and to provide
To establish positive and productive relationships with families
To ensure a well-run, purposeful program responsive to
To maintain a commitment to professionalism
HOW DO I APPLY?
interested in applying for the CDA Credential should contact the Council to
request an application packet.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The cost of the application packet
from the Council
is $18.00+ $5.00 shipping and handling; the fee for assessment is $325.00
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
YOU MUST COMPLETE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING
- Be a high school graduate or have a GED,
- Be 18 years or older,
- Have 480 hours of experience working with
children within the past 5 years
- Call 1-800-424-4310 (Council for
Professional Recognition) for brochure and beginning information.
- Purchase a CDA packet in either
Infant/Toddler, Preschool, or Family child care specialization track. Packets
in Spanish are also available. Packets can be purchased through the
Council for Professional
Recognition by ordering
form to mail in
- Attend 120 hours of formal
education/training. (All training must have occurred within five years of
application date) Training can be completed at one institution/agency or
through a combination of sources. (i.e. technical college, resource and
referral agencies, workshops, colleges, etc.) Training must fit into the eight
specific content areas, with at least ten hours in each area.
- Secure an advisor (eligibility requirements
are listed in CDA packet) or call 1-800-424-4310 for a list of advisors in
your area. The advisor will observe you (with children) for a minimum of two
hours and give you feedback for one hour. Advisor visit(s) need to be
completed within six months of applying for assessment. Your advisor will
complete an assessment booklet (found in CDA packet) and will sign it and
leave it with you to turn in to the National Representative.
- Complete Professional Resource File,
instructions are in CDA packets.
- When 120 hours of education, advisor visit
and Professional Resource File are complete, distribute parent questionnaires
to the parents of the children in your care.
- Apply for assessment by either March 1, June
1, September 1 or December 1 of any year. Application form is in CDA packet.
Your advisor and director (if center employee) are required to sign the
application. If you are a family child care provider, you need to complete the
director section of the application. The assessment fee is $325.00.
- Wait to hear from the National
Representative. (30-120 days) S/he will make an appointment with you to
administer a written test and oral interview. S/he will collect:
- a copy of your competency goal statements
and autobiography (from you Professional Resource File)
- completed parent questionnaires
- your assessment booklet completed by your
- The Advisor will also review your
Professional Resource File and will send all results to The Council for
Professional Recognition. The Council will review the information and decide
whether to issue the CDA credential. (This process can take from 30-90 days)
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?Upon receipt of a Candidate's Application Form, the
$325 assessment fee, and documentation of training, the Council schedules a
Verification Visit by a Council Representative. The Council Representative
contacts the Candidate to arrange the date and place for the visit. These
assignments are made four times a year according to the following timetable:
For Assessments to Occur
||1st Quarter: January, February, March
||2nd Quarter: April, May, June
||3rd Quarter: July, August, September
||4th Quarter: October, November, December
During the Verification Visit the Council
- Check the content of the Professional
Resource File prepared by the Candidate;
- Collect documents from the Candidate to
mail to the Council;
- Administer the Early Childhood Studies
Review—a two-hour, multiple choice examination taken by the Candidate; and
- Conduct the Oral Interview to evaluate
the Candidate’s skills and knowledge of good early childhood care and
Details about all of these procedures are
included in the Application Packet .
At the conclusion of the
Verification Visit, the Council Representative will return the Professional
Resource File to the Candidate and submit the remaining material to the
A Council committee
conducts a review of the Candidate's documentation and renders a decision
whether to award the credential. If a Credential is awarded, the official
Credential is sent to the new Child Development Associate. If the committee
decides the Candidate needs more training, the Council notifies the
Candidate and informs them of appeal procedures and other subsequent
WHAT DOES AN
A vital source of evidence of a
Candidate's skill is actual hands-on work as a primary caregiver with children
and families. The formal observation of the Candidate will provide evidence of
The Advisor observes the Candidate
while working as a lead caregiver with young children in an eligible
setting, and records the observation(s) using the
Observation Instrument. The Advisor may complete the formal observation
in one visit or several visits. Observations should be within 6 months before
the time the Candidate submits the Direct Assessment Application Form to the
The Advisor will:
Conduct a formal
observation, for a minimum of three hours, and evaluate a Candidate's
consistent performance within the selected setting using the CDA Observation
Council with detailed comments about the Candidate's consistent classroom
behaviors, within the structure of the CDA Observation Instrument.
Interview the Candidate, if
necessary, to assess any unobservable area(s) in the CDA Observation
Place the CDA Observation
Instrument in a sealed envelope, to ensure confidentiality and return it to
the Candidate. The Candidate will deliver the envelope to the Council
Representative at the time of the Verification Visit.
Council For Professional Recognition
2460 16th Street, NW · Washington DC 20009-3575
Telephone: 800-424-4310 · 202-265-9090
if you would like more information about obtaining a CDA or would like
have an advisor, or for help in finding
educational opportunities in your area.