The Council for Professional Recognition began administering the Child Development Associate (CDA) credentialing program in 1985. This is a professional development opportunity for those who work with children 5 years old and younger. Despite how it sounds though, it is not an associates degree. The CDA credential requires 120 hours of professional education, 480 hours of working experience with young children, and a professional portfolio before applying. Earning your CDA opens up more job opportunities because employers see that you are invested in
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Most of the work that is involved in earning your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is done before you even apply. It involves professional education, work experience, and a professional portfolio.
Before you are even eligible to apply for a CDA you must complete 120 clock hours of professional education. Although these hours do not have to be for credit, they must be earned through an organization with expertise in early childhood teacher preparation. High school and technical education program training hours also count.
The Council for Professional Recognition also has a list of Gold Standard training organizations that have met the council’s requirements for high quality CDA training programs. These training hours, no matter what organization you go through, must cover a minimum of ten hours from each of the eight CDA subject areas. The subject areas are as follows.
- Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
- Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
- Supporting children’s social and emotional development
- Building productive relationships with families
- Managing an effective program operation
- Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
- Observing and recording children’s behavior
- Understanding principles of child development and learning
EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
In order to be eligible for a CDA credential, you must be able to show proof of at least 480 hours of working experience with young children. The type of CDA credential you are seeking will determine the age of the children your work experience must be with. This experience, unless working towards a family child care or home visitor credential, must be from a center-based program. Here are the types of CDA credentials you can work towards.
- Family child care
- Home visitor
- Military programs
The professional portfolio that is required to be completed within six months of submitting your application for your CDA is a compilation of materials from your work with children and families. Your CDA professional development specialist will review your portfolio when they visit the child care center in which you work to observe you. You are now ready to take the exam!
AFTER YOU APPLY
Once all of the previously mentioned requirements have been met, including your verification visit, you are ready to apply for your CDA. You can apply online ($425 fee) or on paper ($450 fee). The council will review your assessments and make a decision. Your official Child Development Associate credential will be mailed to you if you are awarded your credential, if not, the council will make recommendations on how you can improve and move forward.